Therapy dogs lend a paw in the classroom
By Rachel Goings
The most popular employees at Plumas Charter School just might be certified therapy dogs, Tucker and Gus. The two canines were hired to support students and their job is to visit classrooms, join students during counseling sessions and offer reading support.
Tucker is an 8-year-old collie mix and his human is Taletha Washburn, PCS Executive Director. She and her family adopted Tucker when he was 8 weeks old and he has been raised with her two daughters. Tucker supports the students in Quincy and holds office hours; anyone needing some unconditional love can come and see him.
Gus is a 9-year-old shepherd mix and his human is Becky Powers, PCS School Counselor. She rescued Gus from a shelter when he was 1 ½ years old. Because Ms. Becky travels to all three PCS sites to offer counseling services, Gus gets to bond with kids from Quincy, Taylorsville and Chester.
Both dogs have been certified by the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. ATD provides testing, certification, registration, support and insurance for members who volunteer with their dogs in animal-assisted activities. ATD’s objective is to form a network of caring individuals and their special dogs.
According to studies from the National Institute of Health and the University of California, therapy dogs can make significant impacts on socio-emotional and cognitive development in students. The studies found that therapy dogs contribute to lower stress, improved reading skills, enhanced executive-functioning skills and stimulate memory and problem solving skills.
To learn more about Plumas Charter School programs, please visit: www.plumascharterschool.org.