High school welcomes new therapy dog

As the field of animal therapy continues to gain popularity as a form of healing, Plainville High School is just one of the many schools country-wide that integrates a therapy dog within the school community.

This past May, PHS said goodbye to Duke, the school’s second therapy dog, who accompanied physical education and health teacher Sarah Centore in several classrooms over the past three years.

Centore recently introduced Willow, a therapy dog-in-training, to the PHS community.

“Each of my therapy dogs has had a unique personality, but I’m excited to have Willow in the building because she’s very affectionate and loving,” Centore said in a press release. “She loves people and attention, and her youthful enthusiasm helps lift the spirits of students and staff members.”

Willow, a one-year old chocolate lab, was found wandering the streets in a local community, with no tags, collar, or microchip. She was available for adoption in June after no one claimed her, and has proven to be a very friendly, loveable, and energetic pup.

Therapy dogs are different from service animals—service animals are trained to perform tasks related to a person’s disability, while therapy dogs provide comfort, companionship, and emotional support to those they interact with.

In the past, the high school’s therapy dogs have been part of the Integrated Physical Education classes, teaching students about pet care responsibility, improving students’ social skills, and enhancing physical activity time. Many students over the years have benefited from the companionship of the therapy dogs, through one on one time with the dogs, or in group settings throughout the school year. The therapy dogs have also been particularly helpful for students in coping with stressful situations over the years.

“The addition of Willow at PHS is a benefit to our students, faculty, and community,” Plainville High School principal Carl Johnson said in the release. “It is one of the many things that makes PHS unique and a great place to learn and work.”