As school counselor Jennifer VonLintel gears up for the start of the school year at B.F. Kitchen Elementary School, there are new students to enroll, files to update and schedules to plan — including the schedule for Copper, her registered therapy dog and a popular presence in the hallways of the Loveland, Colo., school.
Three days a week, the 3-year-old golden retriever's assignments can include mingling with kids during recess, being assigned to students who struggle with reading or math anxiety, and providing general companionship and support in the classroom, during counseling office visits, and during after-school programs. Any time a friendly, furry face can provide an extra measure of comfort and assurance, says VonLintel.
When there's a death in a family or a child receives bad news, "with the parents' permission, we'll introduce Copper to the situation," she says. "Kids find comfort in petting him, and sometimes the parents do, too. "