Prospect’s new staff member

By Nabi Dressler
Executive News Editor|

The latest addition to Prospect’s staff is Junie, the Counseling Assistance Dog, who had her first day on Oct. 15.

The 17-month-old Golden Retriever was trained in Michigan to be a service dog but couldn’t tolerate the vest, so after safety dog organization Interquest completed training with her in MI, Junie was sent to Prospect to train with guidance counselor Lynn Thornton and social worker Doug Berg.
Berg and Thornton worked with Junie on Oct. 11 and 12 in various settings like classrooms and hallways. According to Thornton, the focus of the training was for Berg and Thornton to learn and use the commands Junie had learned in MI for seven weeks.

For example, to instruct Junie to come, Thornton learned to say, “Here,” and to tap her left side. Berg said training was for Junie to learn to accept commands from Thornton and him as opposed to just Junie’s trainer.

Former drug dog Dandy served as Counseling Assistance Dog last year once the current drug sniffer, Goldie, was able to take over busting drugs without mentoring from Dandy. Having Dandy around had a calming effect on everyone.

Junie will not sniff for drugs, however. She will be at different parts of the building throughout the day. According to Berg, dog people can visit her to “relax and reset.”

Aside from helping distraught students calm down and retain focus to get back to class, Junie will work with students who receive speech and language services. Also, students with motor issues will work with Junie to improve their skills in ways like throwing a ball to her.

Thornton and Berg conducted a blood pressure lab with a class that showed spending the class with a dog lowered students’ blood pressure. Thornton believes having Junie in the counseling office and around school will help maintain high morale for students and staff alike.

“We’re always down in student services trying to help kids,” Berg said.

Subtly but with a big impact, Junie will be another tool to benefit students by relieving stress and making students feel a little more comfortable at school.

To learn more about Junie and this program, contact Dr. Thornton or Mr. Berg.