Draper Middle School recently introduced an innovative therapy dog program through the social work department, and with the help of a gentle canine companion named Luna, many students are already benefiting from the new program.
The one-year-old “Goldendoodle,” a popular cross-breed between a golden retriever and a poodle, has been making her rounds through Draper classrooms since her school debut in mid-April. She visits special education classrooms and students who can benefit from extra support.
Luna is described by social worker Paola Cummings as “very sweet and mellow,” has earned her American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen title and is scheduled for her official therapy dog certification test at the end of June. Luna’s particular breed is hypoallergenic and known for its smart and gentle nature.
“Luna has been invaluable to the emotional needs of several students,” Ms. Cummings said.
Ms. Cummings noted that research has shown the presence of a dog can help students with anxiety, shyness, aggression, depression and general symptoms of stress. She said that therapy dogs have also been used in the classroom with children who struggle with reading and math skills.
“It has been amazing to observe the effect Luna has on both students and staff,” Ms. Cummings shared. “The students have been fantastic about following the rules and helping Luna learn her commands. Both the students and Luna are learning from each other—particularly about feelings and behavior by observing body language and vocal tones. I am honored to be a part of this program!”