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Northwest Expedition Academy students explore support dog work through writing

| May 30, 2024 1:07 AM

Fourth graders at Northwest Expedition Academy spent time this spring investigating the question, "How do support dogs make a difference in people’s lives?"

Four different support dogs from the community came into the classroom so students could learn more about their specific jobs. Students spent time researching each dog’s specialized senses that make them so adept for support work.

Below are op-ed pieces written by the students. More essays will be published in Friday's Press.

Lucy the therapy dog
By KIARRA GAYMAN

Imagine you are a kid and something frightening happened to you and you had to talk about it with someone that you barely know.

Wouldn't you feel better with a dog by your side?

Some people think that the dogs don't help or they would rather not have one to help comfort them. Other people think they help them open up easier and they would have less anxiety talking about it. Lucy is a therapy dog that helps kids who have trauma feel better while they are talking to her owner Scott Coleman about the incident that happened to them. Lucy makes the biggest difference in people's lives because she helps calm you down if you have stress or anxiety, she can smell if you are stressed and will help you and she will snuggle you for hours if you need it.

Lucy makes the biggest difference in people’s lives because she helps calm them down. Lucy’s owner says, “She helps with kids when something happens to them to help the kids have less stress.” This is important because if you did not have Lucy, think about how much more stress you would have.

Secondly, Lucy is important because she can smell when you are stressed. If you have stress your dog can sense it and help stop a potential panic attack. Therefore, Lucy can smell if your stress and help you. 

Lastly, Lucy makes the biggest difference in people’s lives because she will snuggle you for hours if you need it. Her owner said, “Lucy’s favorite activity is snuggling and she will do it for hours on end.” This is important because it can make you feel better while talking to her owner and she can sit on your lap and comfort you.

When you see a dog that has a vest on in public, that usually means they are working and cannot be disrupted. Sometimes people see therapy dogs and pet them, that is not OK. When therapy dogs get disrupted that means they cannot do their jobs, which could lead to something happening to the owner. Please do not touch a therapy dog in public, or even talk to it because that could also distract the dog.

Rocket the therapy dog
By JONAH KING

Imagine you are in the police station. You are having a terrible day.

A trained therapy dog walks through the door. He is white with brown spots and has cute little floppy ears. His breed is a Brittany. The owner lets you pet him.

This is Rocket. You suddenly feel much better. Rocket works for the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office. Rocket makes the biggest difference in policemen's lives because he helps elevate their mood, he helps them feel calm and he helps policemen socialize.

Rocket helps elevate policemen’s moods. I think this because his owner, John McSwain, was a previous presenter for fourth grade on their project-based learning. He is a retired policeman, a therapy dog trainer and still works for the police department.

“Rocket is nonjudgmental," he said.

I think this is a good thing to help elevate policemen’s moods. This is important because if policemen are not happy it would be a world of sadness. They would quit their job, make no money and not survive. This way without policemen no one would be safe. Therefore, Rocket helps elevate policemen’s moods.

Secondly, Rocket helps policemen feel calm. I think this because Mr. John said, “Whenever policemen pet Rocket, they let go of all of their anxiety because the softness of his fur helps with emotional problems.” This is important because then people are not stressed all of the time.

Rocket helps policemen socialize. I think this because Alliance of therapy dogs Inc. says, “Therapy dogs provide a more comfortable approach interacting with many individuals who are lonely and struggle to socialize.” In this case the “individuals” are policemen. This is important because if you do not have many friends it may cause mental distress, boredom, anxiety, depression and more.

In conclusion, Rocket makes the biggest difference in policemen’s lives because he helps elevate policemen's moods, he helps policemen feel calm and he helps policemen socialize. Now you can donate to Rocket by giving money to the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office.

Murphy
By LIAM EVANDER RAVSTEN

Do you know a service dog like Murphy?

Murphy is an Urban Search And Rescue dog. Murphy makes the biggest difference in people's lives because he helps tell people when they are sick and he can help first responders calm down.

USAR dogs save people all over the world all the time. I know this from handler Cody Moore because he told me Murphy can smell people in hard-to-find places and save them. Dogs can also find people quicker than technology and humans. Dogs' noses are super strong. Dogs' noses are so powerful they can smell the past, present and future. This is important because people get trapped in weird places all the time and dogs can smell a scent trail to where they are. Therefore, USAR dogs are the best type of service dogs.

Another reason I believe Murphy can make a difference in people's lives is Murphy can tell when people are sick. I know this because a YouTube video called "How dogs 'see' with their noses” told me that dogs can smell sickness and some like Murphy are trained to tell when people are sick. Dogs can smell chemicals that humans release. This is important because people can have cancer and not know it. That is where Murphy and other service dogs come in because they can smell it and tell their owners. Therefore, service dogs can be very useful.

Murphy can comfort first responders when they are having a bad day. I know that's because Murphy is adorable and snuggly and trained properly. Mr. Moore told me that this can help first responders when they have seen bad or scary things. This is important because it helps first responders stay focused on their work. Murphy is very important in people's lives.

A lot of dogs are good companions, but Murphy makes people’s lives better in his own unique way of saving lives. If you want to learn more about USAR dogs, go to the library or a bookstore.


    Northwest Expedition Academy fourth graders spent two months this spring learning all about support dogs, including local dogs Lucy, Rocket and Murphy. The students also made their own art of the canines, pictured here.