#072: Working as a School Therapy Dog team with Steph and Bruce

by | February 27, 2023 | Therapy Dog Talk

Therapy Dog Talk - Steph + Bruce

Steph and her Whoodle Bruce are working as a School Therapy Dog team and helping other teachers to do the same.

In this 72nd episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I chat with Steph Kallas and her wonderful Whoodle, Bruce, about their inspiring work as a school therapy dog team working in Animal Assisted Education. We dive into how they help children who find it difficult to trust adults, and how this partnership has changed the lives of many students.

Steph, a behavior specialist, discovered the power of therapy dogs and saw the potential for Bruce, a Whoodle with a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier and Poodle mix, to help kids build trust. We discuss the importance of exposure training, which focuses on creating a strong bond between the dog and their handler.

Throughout the episode, we explore the many ways Bruce has helped students feel better about school, and how school therapy dogs have even benefited staff during the COVID pandemic. Steph also shares her journey with Michael’s Peaceful Paws, a nonprofit she founded to help other educators bring therapy dogs into their schools. So far, they’ve gifted nine dogs to teachers, providing training and support from breeders and trainers.

We wrap up our conversation discussing Bruce’s self-care activity, playing fetch with a tennis ball, which not only helps him unwind but also connects him with the kids at school. Steph reminds us that while therapy dog work can be challenging, the rewards are absolutely worth it.

After listening to this episode, you’ll gain valuable insights into the incredible impact of school therapy dogs and the dedication it takes to make a difference in the lives of children.

In this episode, we discuss …

  • How Steph has seen Bruce help children to enjoy school more.
  • Why Steph decided that a Whoodle was the best partner for her.
  • How Steph has helped other educators get started through Michael’s Peaceful Paws.

Key moments you won’t want to miss:

Note that the timecodes match the video, not the podcast.

  • [01:00] Steph is a behavior specialist who partners with her Therapy Dog, Bruce, to help kids learn to trust adults.
  • [02:27] Steph created a nonprofit called Michael’s Peaceful Paws to help other educators bring therapy dogs to schools.
  • [04:54] Bruce, a Whoodle, is the perfect therapy dog for Steph because of his Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier and Poodle mix.
  • [07:35] Exposure training for therapy dogs focuses on creating a trusting bond between the dog and their handler.
  • [09:18] Bruce loves kids and enjoys sitting close to them for pets and comfort.
  • [09:56] Therapy dogs like Bruce help build trust with kids, making them feel better about school.
  • [11:33] School therapy dogs have also helped staff and participated in virtual classes during COVID.
  • [12:15] Michael’s Peaceful Paws has gifted nine dogs to educators, with training and support from breeders and trainers.
  • [14:33] Steph and Bruce were certified through Alliance of Therapy Dogs, but their district now only requires Canine Good Citizen (CGC).
  • [18:28] Bruce’s self-care activity is playing fetch with a tennis ball, which also helps him connect with kids at school.
  • [21:21] Steph reminds us that therapy dogs can be challenging, but the rewards are worth it.

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I do. Give it a watch or a listen and then let me know in the community which part you found the most helpful!

Mentioned in this episode:

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Therapy Dog Talk is a podcast where I interview a different team each week via Instagram Live. If you enjoyed this episode please find us over at Apple, Google, or Spotify and give us a follow after you leave a review.

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