MIDDLEPORT — Students at Meigs Primary School have had a new addition at the school this year — Axel the Therapy Dog.
Axel is a trauma informed therapy dog. Axel is the personal dog of librarian Kim Wolfe and has been taking part in training to be a therapy dog. He is one year old Great Dane. In addition to the trainings, Axel has a lot of social experiences, allowing him to be around people in a variety of settings.
According to Pet Partners, “Therapy animals can provide physical, psychological, and emotional benefits to those they interact with, typically in facility settings such as schools.”
Earlier in the school year Wolfe sent home information with all students, discussing the therapy dog program and providing information to the parents.
Wolfe explained the benefits of the program, including, to enhance children’s psychological development; to improve social skills and interactions; to increase self-esteem; to teach responsibility, compassion, and respect for other living things; to calm fears and relieve anxiety; to promote greater self-esteem and well-being and focused interaction with others; to stimulate memory and problem solving; to enhance reading; and to decrease anxiety and enable students to work through issues such as anger management, bullying tendencies and other psycho/social problems.
Axel spends much of his time in the library, while also visiting classrooms and spending time with students who may need some extra comfort on a particular day.
Axel also takes part in the guided reading group, with the students having made a book about him.
Wolfe explained that Axel interacts differently with the children depending on the specific need of the child, sensing what type of interaction the child may need. She added that he is comforting to the students and staff in the school.
Having Axel at the school has helped the students to learn how to interact with him and appropriate behaviors around dogs.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.