Springfield elementary welcomes new therapy dog

The Springfield City School District has welcomed a new therapy dog at one of its elementary schools.

Students and staff at Horace Mann Elementary recently welcomed Pete, a 110-pound, yellow labrador retriever.

Pete is a certified therapy dog and belongs to Horace Mann Principal Kevin Schalnat.

“Pete, Principal Schalnat and wife, Sarah, have gone through intensive training to make sure Pete is ready to be part of the building and district community,” the district said.

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Now two-years-old, Pete started his therapy dog training at six-months-old. He has gone through several courses in obedience, self-awareness and tricks, including shaking hands, waving and a dozen other tasks on command.

The goal for Pete is to make weekly visits to Horace Mann, but Schalnat said he will take Pete wherever he is needed within the district. Schalnat said he’d like to also take Pete to visit patients at both Nationwide and Dayton Children’s Hospitals.

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According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, therapy dogs in schools provides physical and emotional health benefits to students, including positive moods, decreasing stress, and increasing a child’s trust and empathy skills.

The district also has another therapy dog in training named Gunner who belongs to Occupational Therapist Lori Stemmer.

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