Monday, April 17 was the first day back in school from spring break for the students at Leverette Elementary School in Toledo, Ohio. LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Claudia (Trinity - Toledo, Ohio), and Jared (Holy Cross - Fort Wayne, Indiana) with their handlers met with the siblings of the teen who died. They are in the second, fourth, and fifth grades. The youngest was shy but receptive to Jared and sat with him for over 15 minutes. Her brother in fourth grade was accompanied by his teacher and didn't get down on the mat with Jared and Claudia but was smiling and answering questions.
The two older boys sat down and hugged and petted Jared. After about 30 minutes, their teacher asked if they wanted to return to the classroom, but both wanted to stay with Jared. The second-grade sister returned with one of her cousins and two other classmates. They all loved Jared and talked about the pets they have at home.
The counselor and therapists told us they saw a big difference in the children's demeanor. They needed to be kids and not answer serious questions about their feelings. They saw a lighting of the moods and felt a sense of calmness and more normal behaviors after visiting with the dogs. The teachers, counselors, and therapists thanked us and praised the dogs for helping the kids feel more like kids again.