Dear A.W. Becker and Pieter B. Faculty, Staff, Students & Community,
We are beginning a facility dog program in our school during the 2022-2023 school year! Please click here to learn more about the program.
We are excited to introduce you to our newest “staff” member. Her name is Waffles! She is a beautiful Goldendoodle pup who we hope will be part of our schools for years to come. Our puppy will be joining us at AWB and PBC in February of 2023! Here is a photo of our new puppy:
We have formed a team of handlers at both Pieter B. and A.W. Becker who are currently being trained to work with our school facility dog directly. These members include Ms. Wolfe (adopter), Ms. Engelhardt, Ms. Mckown, Ms. Burns, and Ms. Hughes at AWB and Ms. Sollien, Mr. Hilker, Ms. Manning, and Mr. Powers at PBC. If you see one of these members holding a leash with our canine colleague, please ask if you can meet our new “staff” member. Our dog needs to follow many rules, so if you do see her, please let our dog handler get her ready to say hello before you approach her.
As always, we put the welfare of our students and staff at the forefront of all we do. We will always be kind and respectful to everyone in our community. If you have any concerns about the dog, be it a fear of dogs or an allergy concern, please get in touch with the principal. The principal will work with the handling team to develop the right plan around the needs of our dog, our students, and staff. Any concerns that you have will be treated with privacy and respect.
This is an exciting time for our school. This is a big job for a dog and one that requires a lot of training, patience, and caring. We need everyone’s help to train her. Our school dog will need to pass two tests when she is about one and a half years old: the Canine Good Citizenship test and a Therapy Dog test. She will be a part of our school community while she is going through the training process. She needs to pass both tests to continue as our school dog.
We need your help.
Our puppy has been specifically chosen by our Facility Dog trainers to work at RCS. Some of the key behavioral ingredients for a successful Facility Dog puppy are calm, patience, an eagerness to be social, and comfort with being touched. To pass the Facility Dog tests, she will need to continue to develop good manners and learn a lot of skills, just like we all do in school. We are going to teach our community how to help her be successful. If we all work together, she will pass her tests and will be able to stay with us for years to come. Our school dog will always be on a leash when walking around our school with one of our handlers.
To ensure her long-term success, it is very important that we all follow these training rules:
When you see our school dog with an adult:
- Stay calm and quiet
- If you want to pet her, walk up to the handler (an arm’s length away) and ask permission.
- Say, “May I pet her?” Wait for the handler to get the puppy ready.
- Pet the dog's body, and avoid her face area (touch her back gently).
- Only one person may pet her at a time so she doesn’t get scared or over-excited.
- Keep your body calm
- Our school dog will love being in school and around people. As such, she will thrive on attention and positive reinforcement. When she is not demonstrating her best behavior, we can let her know by turning your back and walking away. If she is pulling on the leash, barking, crying, trying to jump, or if the handler tells you to, turn your back and walk away. This is an important part of her training so that she understands that her best behavior will give her the best petting and affection from us.
Help our school dog learn good manners by:
- Never being super silly, laughing, or loud (especially if the dog is over-excited).
- Never letting the puppy lick you.
- Never encouraging her to jump or go after something.
- Never encouraging the puppy to run down the hall towards you.
- Never play tug games with a toy
- Never trying to pull something from her mouth.
People First: We follow a philosophy of people first. Adults and students with allergies or dog fears will always be respected. If you do not want the dog near you, just let the handler in charge of the dog know and she will be immediately removed.
Cues: A cue is a word the dog will understand and respond to, like “sit”, “down”, “come”, “wait” or “go say hello”. Our puppy will not only need to have good manners but will need to learn many cues. She will be going to “dog school” to learn these cues but she will need a lot of practice to remember them. As she becomes familiar with our school, you may be asked to help her practice these cues. The team members will let you know when she is ready.
Hugging and Licking: We do not want our puppy to become overwhelmed so we ask that you do not hug the puppy right now. We want you to pet her! Petting her gently on her chest or with one hand gently on her body is best. There is only one of her and many of us. We want her to feel safe. This rule may change as she gets older. Some people are allergic to dog saliva. The dog needs to get into the habit of not licking. To prevent this we ask everyone to keep out of the dog’s face. You can simply stand so the dog cannot lick your face. If she does start to lick, you can withdraw attention by moving away. Even if you don’t mind being licked, please keep in mind that this is the rule for the dog, and please help us by not allowing her to lick you.
Thank you! It may seem like a lot to remember, but the team members in charge of our school dog will help you. The rules may also change over time. As our dog gets older, she will be able to manage different situations. We want her to handle many people approaching her at the same time, we want her to be easy in assemblies, calm during fire drills, and relaxed around buses and in busy hallways. Our team will let you know if the rules are being altered to help our puppy manage different levels of stress. Please follow their requests.
The most important thing is for all of us to help train our school dog by being calm around her and to ask permission to touch her.
As each day passes the puppy will become more comfortable with us and the training. Just like all of us, she will want to learn even more. We will let you know when she is ready for more challenges and what you can do to help her.
Together we will train an amazing dog!
If you have any questions, please contact us. We are looking forward to having our school dog support our students in so many ways and we appreciate the support from all of you!
Ms. Wolfe, Ms. Engelhardt, Ms. Mckown, Ms. Burns, Ms. Hughes, Ms. Sollien, Mr. Hilker, Ms. Manning, and Mr. Powers
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