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Welcome Winston! LMES Gets Therapy Dog for 2021-2022

Posted on: July 27, 2021
winston, lmes therapy dog

The staff at Little Miami Elementary School (LMES) is getting a little cuddlier this year! LMES Counselor Dawn Gasper will be teaming up with her furry new colleague, Winston, to support the emotional well-being of Little Miami students in a unique way. Winston, a six-month old Aussie Doodle, has been given the important job of helping to deescalate students’ emotions if they become upset, anxious, or scared during the school day.  Mrs. Gasper decided upon the name “Winston” because with the powerful meaning of “joyful stone,” she hoped he would bring peace, comfort and smiles to LM students.

Mrs. Gasper has been a strong advocate for the usefulness of therapy dogs in the classroom and specifically chose to work with non-profit organization, Pawsabilities, to connect her with a specially-trained therapy dog fitted best for the job! Winston will go into classrooms with Mrs. Gasper as she connects with students, and will be present in her small groups and one-on-one counseling sessions.

Winston will be working at LMES on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and will share an office with Mrs. Gasper during the day and go home with her at night. Students with allergies or a fear of dogs will be able to see Mrs. Gasper on Wednesdays. While on the grounds of Little Miami Elementary, Winston will be accompanied by Mrs. Gasper or trusted adult and will be wearing a harness indicating that he is a therapy dog. During the first few weeks of school, all LMES students will be sent home with a letter explaining and introducing Winston, and families will be provided information about how to contact Mrs. Gasper with questions or potential issues.

In the first few weeks of school, Mrs. Gasper will be visiting each LMES classroom, introducing Winston to the students & teachers and educating everyone about how to properly interact with him. Students can expect to see Winston in Mrs. Gapser’s office, as well as regularly in classrooms, hallways, and even on the playground!

This summer, Winston has proved to be a “star student,” as he is already hard at work at undergoing husbandry training conducted by inmates of a Kentucky prison. In a prison setting, Winston is able to be exposed to sensory elements that will help prepare him for the unique sounds, touches and smells he may experience in the classroom.

Mrs. Gasper is set to undergo extensive dog handling training next month to ensure that she and Winston are ready to assist the needs of Little Miami students & teachers. Mrs. Gasper will bring Winston home on August 21st so that they can prepare for the first week of school in September.

We are so grateful for Mrs. Gasper’s advocacy for the use of therapy dogs in schools and her willingness to train for and take care of Winston’s needs. Welcome to Little Miami Winston!