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Back to School for Dogs

We all know the multiple ways in which service dogs can help us. That's why therapy and service dogs are allowed on airplanes, in restaurants, and school. But not everybody has their own therapy dog to bring to school, as therapy and service dogs can be very expensive. However, one county in northeast Montana is addressing this.

In Flathead Valley, Montana, educators have come together to provide therapy dogs for their students. Canine companions can now be found at Smith Valley School, Summit Preparatory, and Kalispell Montessori. 

The principal of Smith Valley School, Laili Komenda, says that therapy dogs were introduced to the schools after realizing how soothing therapy dogs can be. 

The difference between therapy and service dogs are important. While service dogs are trained to help one specific person with their specific disability, therapy dogs are versatile and loving. They're trained to be able to help everyone.

That's why Sitka, an Airedale terrier/border collie/Australian shepherd mix, sits next to Komenda in her office. Sitka is one of a few canine faculty members, and he loves his job. "Sitka is such a big-hearted young dog," said Komenda in an interview with Great Falls Tribune, "He is an easy dog to train. His language is love, attention and play. As long as he has that he loves his life."

And that's exactly what Sitka gets at Smith Valley! Komenda took him to three different training programs before bringing him to school, and now he's a regular fixture. Komenda hosted an assembly before introducing him to the students so that they could know the basics of how to behave around Sitka and, of course, how much he lvoes getting pet. 

Sitka, as well as the other dogs at schools in the area, have helped tremendously in their time at the school. When students fall in the hallways, they make sure they're all right. When they're in the classroom, they can provide emotional support to children with disabilities. 

This just further emphasizes the true power and loving soul of every dog out there. Seriously, could dogs get any better?


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Jenna Gomes

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Jenna Gomes