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There is a teacher at Carrollton High School (CHS) who is going above and beyond to help ease student’s anxiety when it comes to taking tests and quizzes in math and he isn’t costing the district a dime. Oh, and he also has fur and four legs.
Dozer is a seven year old, 150 pound St. Bernard owned by math teacher Delsie Eads who became a licensed therapy dog last year and began his duties at CHS in January of this year.
Eads has been teaching math with the Carrollton School District for six years and the one thing she hears from a lot of the students is that they freeze up on tests.
“A lot of the kids complained about test anxiety,” she said. “They know all the material and I could ask them a question and they would be able to answer it in class but then when I would give them a test or quiz they didn’t know where to start – they just didn’t know how to put it on paper and their excuse was always that they just get nervous when it was right in front of them. They get nervous and anxious and then they forget everything.”
This got Eads thinking about different ways to overcome this problem for these students.
“I was trying to look into different things to help them overcome this text anxiety and the one thing that popped into my head was a therapy dog,” she said. “I already had Dozer as a pet at home and I thought to myself how it would be funny if I brought him to school as therapy dog.”
Eads started looking into the requirements of getting Dozer licensed as a registered therapy dog and found out that it wasn’t difficult at all to get him registered.
“It wasn’t very difficult at all to put him through the training and I actually did it myself,” she said. “I had to submit things online showing that he can follow basic commands and for such things as he is potty trained and that he is calm. The main thing for him to be a therapy dog is that he had to be calm and lay around. Any dogs that are high strung don’t usually make good therapy dogs.”
Dozer was the perfect candidate for a therapy dog – he is one of the most chill dogs there is – laying around just observing the world around him raising his head when someone walks by in case they want to pet him or acknowledge his presence.
Eads was asked what she thought Dozer thinks of his new “position”.
“I always joke about it, but dogs are very smart and when he sees that harness come out at home, he knows he is getting to come here and he gets very excited,” she said. “He enjoys coming here because he loves the people and especially the kids. They all give him attention and if he’s at home he is all alone during the day so its an added bonus for him that he gets to come to work with mom.”
But it’s not something that Dozer gets to do every day of the week.
“I usually limit his work schedule to two or three times a week,” Eads said. “I try to schedule his days on the days when I have a quiz or a test scheduled so he can do what he is actually here for – ease the kids’ test anxiety.”
At the end of the day, Eads lets students take him out to go to the bathroom or for a walk. It is sort of a reward for the students.
High School Principal Leslee Frazier said that simple act of taking him out has helped some students build their confidence.
“I was thinking about a couple of boys who would do it at the end of the day last year and how responsible they were – making sure that he didn’t leave their sight or get away from them because they wanted to protect him,” she said. “They really took ownership in their job and you could see the confidence that came across them when they were given that responsibility from her. That they can show us that they are maturing and growing and that they love animals too. So, its actually kind of a win-win for everybody.”
Dozer is not limited to just Eads’ room. He can go anywhere in the school, with the exception of the cafeteria or the kitchen.
“I have another teacher who comes and get him and takes him for a walk down the hall so the other kids can pet him,” she said. “He loves that because he gets to see some of the other kids and they get to pet him. We also have other kids come in my room just to pet him.”
It is not only the students who benefit from her services.
“We also have teachers who come in here wanting to see him as well,” Eads said. “I have some teachers who come into my room every morning before class and if he is not here they will ask where he is at and are disappointed if he is not here. He helps with their anxiety as well as the students.”
If there is any doubt that he is a valued member of the staff at Carrollton High School, just check out the yearbook for the coming year. The photographer came to take yearbook photos for staff and students last week and one of the teachers made sure that Dozer had his picture taken along with the rest of the faculty.