Many SayHelloSpot readers will remember the inspiring weekly reports from Coco, the Bright Spot Therapy Dog that went to school with her teammate Michelle Karb, principal of Robert E. Melican Middle School in Northborough, Massachusetts, and helped hundreds of students build self-esteem, perform better in school, and was simply on-hand to comfort and be a friend to all who needed her at the school.
With over 650 students and over 100 staff members, Coco was performing a huge service to the school. When Coco retired, it left a tremendous void. But, not for long…
My name is Betty. I am a 17 month-old labradoodle. You may remember my sister, Coco, who was the first-ever therapy dog at the Robert E. Melican Middle School in Northborough, Massachusetts, where my mom is the principal. Coco spent over 2000 hours working with the students and staff at Mom’s school. Before she retired, she taught me everything I needed to know about being a therapy dog.
Coco and I bonded quickly in March of 2016 when I came to live with her and the rest of the family. I was 8 weeks-old at the time, and she was very accepting of my churlish puppy antics. She also helped me learn how to be calm when I needed to be. Coco retired from her work at Mom’s school the same month I began living with my new family. Mom and Coco made it clear to me that I was to follow in Coco’s paw prints and become the next therapy dog at MMS.
Mom brought me to school with her for the first time in April of 2016, and I was an immediate hit with the students – who doesn’t love a cute and bubbly puppy? At that point, I was considered a therapy dog in training, wearing a yellow training vest, and continuing to learn my manners and basic commands, as I became accustomed to the sounds, smells, and other stimulation of what would soon become my second home. I had a strong several weeks last year, logging well over 150 hours.
This year, I continued my training, participating in obedience classes and therapy dog class, and working on my skills at Mom’s school. In March of 2017, I became a certified Bright Spot Therapy Dog. Students noticed immediately that I had gone from my yellow training vest to my official blue vest.
In January of 2017, we added another member to our family. Jackson, my littermate, came to live with Mom, Dad, my older sister, Sophie, and me. Mom immediately began bringing him to her school as a therapy dog in training. He continues to work on his skills, attending training classes and working with students and staff at Mom’s school.
The last day of school was yesterday. I logged well over 700 hours at Mom’s school this year, and Jackson well over 300 hours. We absolutely LOVE working. We work with students in the therapeutic program, students in the language-based program, students in the behavior specialist’s room, and students in the guidance suite. We work with students with special needs and with typical students. We have become important members of the Melican Middle School staff. I even attended presentations with Mom on some evenings, and met several incoming 6th graders who are anxious about beginning middle school in the fall.
When we are not working, we enjoy playing and wrestling together, and hanging out with Sophie. We will miss the students and staff at Mom’s school, but we are excited to go swimming, kayaking, and hiking this summer. ~Betty