REPORTING FOR DUTY: D.C. Everest Middle School gets four-legged friend for therapy

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 9:33 PM CST
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WESTON, Wis. (WSAW) - Dogs are known for a lot of things, but more specifically, they are known for reducing stress and improving moods. That’s one of the reasons why D.C Everest School District is expanding its staff and welcoming a four-legged friend to its middle school.

D.C. Everest Middle School’s Resource Officer Abby Behnke said her new K-9 sidekick, Officer Sullivan, aka Sully, is already putting smiles on kids’ faces, even though his new role as a therapy dog hasn’t officially started just yet. “I’ve already seen it working, and he’s not here that often,” Behnke said.

Sully is reporting for duty at least once a week at the school for right now, as he is still in training. Sully is a four-month-old Labradoodle that, Behnke explained, was donated to the Everest Metro Police Department. “The Koppa family from the Wausau area had a litter of puppies and wanted to do some good for the community and donated sully to work in the school.”

Behnke said by the way things are going with training, Sully will be ready for his new role in no time. “I have seen Sully put smiles on some kids’ faces so far that is really hard to crack a smile with them.”

Not only has he been a ray of sunshine, but he can also help break the ice between Behnke and students. “A few kids that I never even got to talk to yet this year that I know don’t want to talk to me and they kind of avoid, Sully has brought them right out, asking questions, talking to me the excitement and the light in their eyes is incredible, what a dog can do,” she said.

Sully’s trainer and owner of Central Wisconsin K-9, Sean Dumais, said the first day Officers Abby and Sully roamed the school together, Sully took it more like a walk in the park. “She was walking down the hallway when all the classes let out and the whole school was running, literally running down the hallway, and he was perfectly happy to be there and greeting everybody and jumping up and down and being excited.”

How Sully reacted to the kids the first day is what studies also show happens to kids. “Eight to ten students between the ages of 13 to 18 suffer from anxiety or depression, and a dog like this can lower blood pressure, can calm a student, as well as put a smile on the face.,” Behnke explained.

Something Officer Sullivan knows how to do all too well. “You can hear them from the classroom yelling ‘Sully’s here, Sully’s here’ and just the smiles are great,” Officer Behnke said.

Behnke added that she’s excited to have him as a companion. “He will go home with me at night and be a family dog at night, but when he comes to school he’s working to make everyone happy, and give them a little hugs and snuggles when they need them.”

Officer Sully will also learn the skills of a tracking dog, in case anyone was to go missing. Behnke said she’s hoping to have Sully at the school full-time in the next few months.

You can follow along on Officer Sully’s journey, here.

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