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‘They make you feel comfortable’: How therapy dogs are helping a Uvalde Catholic school

Canines 4 Christ is bringing dogs and handlers to Sacred Heart Catholic School in Uvalde as soon as a week. The principal desires them to remain without end.

UVALDE, Texas — Immediately following the tragedy in Uvalde May 24, a group referred to as Canines 4 Christ San Antonio teamed up with the Salvation Army to supply households help on the native Civic Center.

Then, from the primary to the final, the dogs and their handlers attended each funeral — able to consolation the grieving. 

It was there the place they captured the eye of a native principal.

He knew it was precisely the kind of therapy his college students would wish.

“I knew right then and there, regardless how this school’s enrollment would be, we need those dogs to come in to help us,” stated Joseph Olan, Principal of Sacred Heart Catholic School in Uvalde.

Olan says the school is experiencing file enrollment this school year, welcoming many new college students who are overcoming tragedy.

“Especially our children that are grief struck and students that might be angry about what occurred, or just students that are confused about what’s happening or what happened in our community,” stated Olan.

Sitting collectively in a classroom when KENS 5 arrived Friday morning had been fifth graders Aleah Ruiz and Neliana Rodriguez, alongside 4th grader Levi Cervantes.

Rodriguez and Cervantes are newly enrolled at Sacred Heart Catholic School. Last year, they attended Robb Elementary School.

All three college students say that having a canine round at school helps them loosen up whereas lifting their spirits.

“They’re always happy, so they make you feel happy,” stated Rodriguez. “If someone’s friend was arguing with them, they can just sit with a dog and it helps a lot.”

“She licked me and I gave her this little treat!” Cervantes exclaimed. “We love them. And I wish they would bring them more…We just want to pet them all the time!” 

“They run up to us!” stated Ruiz. “They give us a lot of fun and laughter.”

“How often would you like to see these dogs at school?” we requested the trio.

“Every day,” they replied.

Canines 4 Christ is a therapy canine ministry. Friday, handlers introduced Mollie, who’s one in all six dogs who go to Sacred Heart Catholic School as soon as a week. Their companies are freed from cost. 

“We work to our strengths. We want our dogs to do that as well,” stated Chaplain Jill Powell, the Local Chapter Leader for the San Antonio space of Canines 4 Christ and the National Director of Membership for the group.

Each canine and handler from Canines 4 Christ is there to take heed to those that want to speak, and to affix others who want a prayer.

“My hope is that they feel better,” Jill defined. “That some of that stress and anxiety and fear or whatever emotion that they bring with them, that can be lifted and that happiness is what remains.”

“The parents see a difference in their child and they can attribute it right back to the dogs. So it changes the family system at some level as well,” stated Chaplain Ross Powell, Co-Leader for the native chapter of Canines 4 Christ and National Director of Operations and Finance for the group.

Handlers feel the heaviness lifting at Sacred Heart Catholic School. Students who had been quiet are popping out of their shell.

“Saint Francis of Assisi put it best,” stated Principal Olan. “He said, ‘True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice.’ Each and every day [the dogs and handlers] add just an increment of hope, happiness and comfort for these children.”

The ambiance modifications when these dogs stroll in. 

“I took over a class and there was a student who held one of the dogs and put their face into their fur and stayed there for about 10 whole minutes,” Olan recalled. “I could see their body shake and you could tell that the student was crying. But at the end of the 10 minutes with the dog, they had a big smile on their face.”

Because of the profound affect the group is having on native college students and employees, a Canines 4 Christ chapter in Uvalde could possibly be on the best way.

“We’re just not going to come and leave you hanging,” stated Ross. “We’re going to be here with you and walk alongside you forever.”

Olan is hoping for a lifetime partnership between Sacred Heart Catholic School and Canines 4 Christ. He believes faculties nationwide want dogs like Mollie. He stated they’re a small addition that may make a large distinction within the happiness and well-being of youngsters.

“Even if a tragedy doesn’t strike…school should be open to allowing these type of animals come and support the students,” stated Olan. “Education’s always evolving, always growing. It is not static. It’s very fluid. This is just another aspect or dimension that people could start looking at for the social emotional well-being of children as well.”

The Powells say they’re already seeing an curiosity in Uvalde for handlers and therapy dogs who want to take part with the group. Ross says they’re providing free scholarships totally free memberships to the primary few individuals who be a part of.

A junior handler program can be a part of their companies. Olan expressed curiosity in integrating that program for fifth and sixth grade subsequent school year.

If you’re eager about enjoying a function in Canines 4 Christ, name Chaplain Jill Powell at 210-452-5623 or e-mail [email protected]

During Catholic Schools Week in February, Olan is planning a particular occasion to thank Canines 4 Christ handlers and dogs for his or her service to the school.

“[We’re] so honored and privileged to be walking this journey of healing with them,” stated Jill. “We love Uvalde. We love Sacred Heart School. All for Jesus!”

Sacred Heart Catholic School in Uvalde has grow to be like household to Canines For Christ. Through weekly visits, particular…

Posted by Canines for Christ San Antonio on Friday, December 9, 2022

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