Wynn Middle School Resource Officer Eric Hanley is getting a new partner: an Australian Labradoodle puppy born Sept. 27 and donated by New Hampshire breeder Monadnock Labradoodle. Per SRO Hanley, the Tewksbury Public Schools will welcome the comfort dog sometime around Thanksgiving. Hanley has been visiting various boards and committees around town to share information about his new partner.
The pup will arrive fully vaccinated, with a clean bill of health, and be raised in a loving home environment. When it’s old enough, the puppy will go through extensive training before taking on its new job in the Tewksbury schools. It will learn to be calm and gentle even in a loud and sometimes chaotic school environment.
It will be based out of the Wynn Middle School, with SRO Hanley, but will visit all the Tewksbury schools on a rotating schedule, which is to be determined.
The purpose of a comfort dog is to provide emotional support to students. Statistics say that one in three adolescents, ages 13 to 18, will experience an anxiety disorder. More that one-third, 33.8%, said they felt sad or hopeless every day, while 17.5% had serious thoughts of suicide. A comfort dog can help. They have been shown to decrease anxiety, ease social isolation, increase school attendance, provide stability to children living in abusive homes, even help young readers gain confidence. Students find companionship with the dog, and it can help them remain in control of their emotions, or de-escalate when they’ve entered an emotional crisis.
Comfort dogs have also been shown to help students with various emotional disorders, such as autism, PTSD and schizophrenia.
Both SRO Hanley and the district are cognizant of potential concerns with a dog in classrooms and assured the School Committee in a presentation at a recent meeting that no child will be required to interact with the dog, whether that hesitancy is due to fear or allergies.
The Tewksbury Police Department thanked Walmart for selecting TPD to receive a community grant, Monadnock Labradoodles for donating the puppy, WellPet LLC and Pets Plus Tewksbury for donating food and Auntie Dog Training Studio for donating training services.
The Tewksbury Police Department will reach out to the community for help choosing a name for the new puppy. The Carnation will let everyone know what it’s time to cast your vote, so stay tuned!