Sign In

Academy’s Therapy Dog

August 27, 2020

When students returned to iAcademy at Athens Elementary earlier this month, they were welcomed by a new member of the school’s faculty. He may not be much of a talker, but he still has a way of brightening everyone’s day.

His name is Eli, and he’s a 2-year-old Labradoodle serving as iAcademy’s new therapy dog. The good boy is hard at work, helping to ease student and faculty stress while everyone adjusts to modified school conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We love him,” said Beth Patton, acting superintendent with Athens City Schools. “The kids are crazy about him. He is very helpful during this time when stress is high.”

iAcademy Principal Amanda Tedford said getting Eli at AES has been a two-year process started by former principal Cindy Davis. She said Davis and a Title I teacher attended a workshop that included a session on therapy dogs, and they were intrigued by the idea.

Tedford said Eli was actually supposed to begin working at the school in March, but his first day happened to be the same day schools closed due to coronavirus.

“The mental health of our students has been a great concern of ours, especially during this pandemic,” Tedford said. “Having Eli gives students a great opportunity to have some emotional support. He is there to help. He sits with students who need some comfort or who need to see a friendly face.”

Tedford said Eli spends most of his time away from iAcademy living with teacher and handler Cindy Greenway, but the lovable pooch actually belongs to the school itself. Like Patton, Tedford said everyone at iAcademy loves Eli.

“Everyone’s faces light up when they see him come into the classroom,” she said. “We spent the first couple of days letting the students meet him, and taught them how to interact with him. We taught them how to pet him the right way and to not startle him. It has been neat to see their reaction.”

Eli goes to different classrooms regularly, and Tedford said teachers can request a visit. Even remote students got a chance to meet Eli when he recently sat in on Zoom teleconferences.

Eli was trained by Service Dogs Alabama, a group that helps provide medical and psychiatric assistance dogs for those in need of them. Tedford said the therapy dog will be a member of the school for a long time.

Register your Dog Schedule a Visit

  • Recent News

    Pet Therapy Program

    Saturday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day, which this year has a new sense of urgency for many. Covid-19 has taken a mental and emotional toll on healthcare workers across the U.S but there is a program boosting the spirits of doctors and nurses on the frontlines. At UC Irvine Medical Center in Southern […]

    Read more

    AMR Therapy Dog

    Rampart, a therapy dog with American Medical Response San Bernardino County, recently passed his Certified Therapy Dog exam. AMR acquired Rampart, a 1½-year-old goldendoodle, when he was 10 weeks old. Rampart started basic obedience classes when he was 4 months old and continued through advanced obedience classes, according to a news release. When he was […]

    Read more

    Workers Get Canine Interactions

    It was a long, boring spring and summer for the four-footed members of the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, who couldn’t visit nursing homes and hospitals giving tail wags and doggy smiles. The coronavirus paused the professional canine therapeutic interactions with patients and hospital workers. “You could actually see him falling into a depression at home,” said Wendy Kadish of […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Program

    An initiative by Cyndy Caravelis, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at Western Carolina University, will include a pilot program to use a therapy dog to aid domestic violence victims and their families in Jackson County. Caravelis’ German shepherd Atlas will escort victims and family members into court procedures and stay with children while […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogs Working With Staff

    After a pause due to COVID-19, the St. John Ambulance Abbotsford therapy dog team recently returned to visit staff at several different correctional facilities in the Fraser Valley. The PAWS inside program originally began at the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women five years ago and started off by providing services to inmates. Last year, the […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Bringing Comfort

    The Marion County Sheriff’s Office has a special K-9 who plays an important role. While most K-9s help in crime scenes and investigations, Comfort Caj is crime therapy dog and brings smiles to the community and the sheriff’s office. “He really brings a light and energy to this whole building, that you can’t fathom, you […]

    Read more

    Montgomery County's Therapy Dog

    Montgomery County has a new tool to help give crime victims some support. That tool’s name is Zurg. Zurg is the new therapy dog for the Montgomery County district attorney’s office. Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey introduced Zurg as the newest member of the team Monday. Coming from Canine Companions for Independence, Zurg will […]

    Read more