Whenever he walks through the halls at Newark Valley Middle School he is swarmed by students clamoring to be near him. You can tell that he enjoys the attention by the way he smiles, sticks his tongue out and wags his tail. His name is Sarge and he Social Worker Andy Davenport's therapy dog. He comes to work with Davenport and visits with students once a week. At almost five years old, Sarge has been through thorough training and testing to become a therapy dog. Davenport said he had to take Sarge to classes where he learned basic commands. He also had to acclimate Sarge to public areas so he got used to being in loud spaces around other people.
“He did so well, that his teacher said he could take the therapy-dog test immediately based on his performance and personality,” Davenport said.
The Golden Retriever interacts
with students and helps those who are feeling anxious or having a bad day. Davenport said he leaves his
office door open and in between bells the kids can come by and see him. He also
takes Sarge out to visit classes and Sarge sits in on one-on-one sessions. Davenport
said Sarge really helps kids open up and talk more freely.
“Last week I had a student that I hadn’t seen smile and Sarge had him belly laughing, so it’s nice to see that,” he said.
Sarge has been visiting the school since the
last week in September, and Davenport hopes that his visits will help ease anxieties
and bring smiles to the students and staff at the middle school.