Therapy dog brings a sense of ‘normalcy’ back to one area school

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 10:27 PM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - A Bellaire Elementary school counselor is relying on a new employee to help students and staff learn to manage stress.

Shiloh is a 3-year-old giant schnauzer,

Classroom visits and a few treats are have eased the return to in-person learning.

Between her four paws, wagging tail, and calm demeanor, Shiloh is hard to miss in the halls at Bellaire Elementary school.

“If they are able to engage in their learning because Shiloh has brought down their stressors , then that is already a win-win situation for us,” said La Vonda Loney, principal of Bellaire Elementary School.

Shiloh was helping adults at a local hospital until the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Shiloh has over 150 hours working at the VA Center in Temple with the patients and COVID shut that down. So, I was taking her to any store that allows dogs just to keep her skills up, and there was an employee from Bellaire who fell in love with her at Home Depot, and here we are and have been since October,” said Natalie Pittman, the dog’s owner.

Pittman said she saw an opportunity for a therapy animal to work at the school, especially during the return from virtual learning.

Students and staff look forward to Shilo’s visits, and they hope she will be able to return next school year.

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