Dear RCS HS 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. His name is Archie and he is a beautiful Labrador pup who we hope will be part of our school for years to come (see above for photo).
We have formed a team of handlers at the high school who are currently being trained to work with Archie directly. These members include Adam Sutton (adopter), Kasey LaBarge, Joy Farrell, Laura Reinisch, and Jennifer Nicholson. If you see one of these members holding a leash with our canine colleague, please ask if you can meet our new “staff” member. Archie needs to follow many rules, so if you do see him, please let Archie’s dog handler get him ready to say hello before you approach him.
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 our principal. The principal will work with the handling team to develop the right plan around the needs of Archie, 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 him. Archie will need to pass two tests when he is about one and a half years old: the Canine Good Citizenship test and a Therapy Dog test. He will be a part of our school community while he is going through the training process. He needs to pass both tests to continue as our school dog.
We need your help.
Archie 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, he 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 Archie be successful. If we all work together, he will pass his tests and will be able to stay with us for years to come. Archie will always be on a leash when walking around our school with one of our handlers.
To ensure his long-term success, it is very important that we all follow these training rules:
When you see Archie with an adult:
- Stay calm and quiet
- If you want to pet Archie, walk up to the handler (an arm’s length away) and ask permission.
- Say, “May I pet him?” Wait for the handler to get the puppy ready.
- Pet the dog's body, and avoid his face area (touch his back gently).
- Only one person may pet him at a time so he doesn’t get scared or over-excited.
- Keep your body calm.
- Archie will love being in school and around people. As such, he will thrive on attention and positive reinforcement. When he is not demonstrating his best behavior, we can let him know by turning your back and walking away. If he 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 his training so that he understands that his best behavior will give him the best petting and affection from us.
Help Archie 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 him 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 his 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 he 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. He will be going to “dog school” to learn these cues but he will need a lot of practice to remember them. As he becomes familiar with our school, you may be asked to help him practice these cues. The team members will let you know when he is ready.
Hugging and Licking: 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 he 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 him to lick you.
Thank you! It may seem like a lot to remember, but the team members in charge of Archie will help you. The rules may also change over time. As our dog gets older, he will be able to manage different situations. We want him to handle many people approaching him at the same time, we want him 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 Archie 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 him and to ask permission to touch him.
As each day passes Archie will become more comfortable with us and the training. Just like all of us, he will want to learn even more. We will let you know when he is ready for more challenges and what you can do to help him.
Together we will train an amazing dog!
If you have any questions, please contact us. We are looking forward to having Archie support our students in so many ways and we appreciate the support from all of you!
Adam Sutton, Kasey LaBarge, Joy Farrell, Laura Reinsch, and Jennifer Nicholson