Service dog helps special-ed kids


Lilah Adams

Animals are invading the halls and hanging out at student events. Golden Rule Retrievers, a local company training Golden Retrievers to work as service dogs, has offered to bring a golden retriever every Tuesday to work with the life skills department.

Studies have shown how dogs can have a positive effect on kids with disabilities. The dogs help the students and teachers manage their behavioral problems, their lack of ability to pay attention, and help them calm down when needed.

“Amanda Davis offered it [the service dog] anytime I wanted it,” special ed teacher Katie Villarreal said. “We had a discussion and we concluded that it would be good for everyone, especially Lizette.”

Since the beginning of the year, Villarreal noticed changes in one of her students – Lizette Vasquez. Earlier in the year, Vasquez had not been talking as much as usual, and Villarreal had a suspicion that a dog might help.

“The kids love the dog,” Villarreal said. “Lizette had not been talking this year but when the dog arrived, she began talking to him. She has recently opened so much more.”

All the students have reacted very well to the dog, including students who see him coming and going in the halls.

“The dog is super gentle and sweet,” Villarreal said. “I am so glad we were able to have this opportunity for the kids. I feel like throughout the year it is going to have such a great impact on the kids.”