Therapy dogs aid in student success at Hill Top Academy

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picture of therapy dog with young student

Therapy dog provides emotional support

Harry was one of the first therapy dogs to be placed in a classroom at the Cedar Run emotional support facility in Cumberland County.

There he met a female high school student with school phobia. Just getting her into the building and settled in her classroom was a success in and of itself.

The class began with daily journal writing. Students could respond to a prompt or write about anything they felt they needed to get out. As this particular girl wrote in her journal, Harry went to her and placed his head in her lap.

Patti Chasteen, a high school emotional support teacher who has been with the program since it began, didn’t question it. But once she read the girl’s journal, she realized the power and intuition Harry had that day.

The girl had written of her plans to commit suicide. But when Harry put his head in her lap, she said it made her feel better. The dog sensed the student was struggling before Chasteen even knew.

“These dogs have amazing powers with these kids,” she said.

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