Therapy dog ‘Bear’ helps students


CHARLESTON, Ill. (WCIA) — Some elementary school students are getting to hang out with a special guest during their school days, and he’s doing more than just offering snuggles.

“I saw kids who were having a terrible day turn around and have a great day,” said Carl Sandburg Elementary School Assistant Principal Patti Murphy.

It may be as simple as a pat on the head or a listening ear, but seeing therapy dog Bear is making a powerful difference for students at Carl Sandburg Elementary School.

“We’ve had some students with autism that Bear has helped, like helped them kindof reset or calm down, start their day better,” said Murphy.

Murphy says she got the idea after witnessing the success of a therapy dog at a school in Iowa. “That dog was just loved all over the school. It would go out at recess, play with some kids who maybe had trouble finding someone to play with.”

Murphy realized it would be the perfect addition to the school, so she brought it up to Paraprofessional Brad Tribble. Tribble’s dog, Bear, was already in behavior training.

“I knew he had the right temperament for it and it seemed like he’d be a good fit and the kids life him,” said Tribble.

Tribble decided to further his training by having him become a therapy dog at the school.

“We started just very slowly last April just a couple times here and there to see how the kids responded, how it did, and it was just very successful,” said Murphy. “He’s been wonderful for our students. he greets the students in the morning as they’re coming in out of cars, he’s outside, and they just kinda start their day with a smile and so it’s a great way to get things rolling.”

“He picks out the kids who need him the most sometimes. You won’t know a kid’s having a bad day, but he’ll go over and sit by them, and he’ll know that, that person needs me,” said Tribble.

Bear only comes to the school two to three days a week, but they’re trying to get him there more often.

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