A Day in the Life of Shelby, Facility Dog at Sanders School

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The following article was written by Linda Dobbs, teacher at Sanders School, MSD of Wayne Township, Indianapolis, Indiana. Linda and Paws and Think both want to acknowledge McDonald’s Corporation for their monetary donation in enabling this perfect match to occur!

A Perfect Match

ShelbyShelby was rescued from the Indianapolis Humane Society by Kevin Knartzer, certified trainer with Paws and Think, Inc. He told me there was something in her eyes that told him she would be a great dog…for any situation. About the same time, I was emailing Gayle Hutchens to inquire about the possibility of securing a facility dog for my special education day program, Sanders School. After meeting Kevin and Shelby in May of last year, we knew we had a perfect match.

Our school is a Circle of Courage school that focuses on improving behavior and academics through Mastery, Independence, Generosity and Belonging. Shelby has been an integral part of the program since her first day “on the job” in August of 2010. Shelby now attends school three days a week and the students have come to depend on her. She greets the students at the main door as students enter the building in the morning and participates in all of my physical education classes. She sees students off at the end of the day as we dismiss buses together. Shelby visits in the front office while I am teaching math and brings a great deal of stress relief to our staff. Every student feels that Shelby “loves them best” and several students who had previous negative experiences with dogs have come to feel comfortable and safe around her. That has been one of the most rewarding outcomes from Shelby being at school. One student even comes to stay with Shelby in my office whenever there is a storm as he has increased anxiety during heavy rains and bad weather. Other students come to visit Shelby after an acting-out episode and Shelby serves as an accepting place for them to begin re-establishing rapport with staff and students. Shelby has also helped calm students with test-anxiety, prior to exams.

I am so thankful for the service that Paws and Think provides individuals and communities through the training of facility, service and assistance dogs. I’m confident that Shelby has not been the only “perfect match”.