The furry, friendly, fun relationship expert at Our Lady of Presentation Catholic School. This adorable Labradoodle is the daughter of two comfort dogs. She and her brother, Patrick, were donated by Raintree Animal Clinic and one of the school families last March with the intention of one being an auction dog and one becoming the school comfort dog. This was near St. Patrick’s Day, hence their festive names.
“Patrick was auctioned off to a school family for a generous $5,000,” says Marianne Organ, principal, OLP. “The school social worker, school interventionist and other staff members had been researching the idea of a comfort dog for a couple of years. Clover is generally a very mellow dog who is still learning the ropes of being a comfort dog.”
Studies show numerous positive impacts of school therapy dogs, including physical, social, cognitive and emotional/mental health benefits. Specifically, they have been shown to reduce blood pressure, assist with pain management, improve self-esteem and focused interaction between students and teachers. It has been empirically stated that these darling dogs stimulate memory and kids’ problem-solving skills, lessen depression, decrease loneliness and isolation, reduce boredom, help children learn empathetic and nurturing skills, improve social relationships and greatly reduce anxiety.
What does Clover’s school day look like? Sort of like a student’s! She arrives by 7:30 each morning and goes to a classroom with Kathy Coleman, the fourth-grade teacher she lives with. She waits until Miss Pierson, the school social worker, picks her up. She stands outside each morning welcoming students and sometimes helps coax any child inside who may be having a rough start to their day.
She wags her tail rotating between Miss Pierson’s office and different classrooms. Some teachers invite her for a visit, and she may go to the office to give children encouragement and affection.
“Clover loves to sit and listen to students read, and to be pet by anyone having a difficult time. Many stop by to spend quality time with her. It seems students are able to talk about such things as suffering a loss, feeling left out or a bad grade a bit easier while petting Clover,” Organ says. “She is genuinely excited to see kids and loves to give them a lot of attention and affection. She attends meetings, stops by recess and lunch shifts. She loves spending time with Mary Kay in the front office. In the hallway, every student gives her a pet as they walk by. Each face lights up as soon as they see her, exclaiming, ‘look, it’s Clover!’”
When it comes to playtime, her favorite is diving for a floating bumper in the pool where she lives. During COVID, she patiently waited by the door of her home, ready to go to school. Putting her in her vest is her clue that it is time to “work.” When she gets to Miss Pierson’s office, the first thing she does is take every toy out of her box. Her personality shines through in all she does.
“Clover has been an absolute blessing to our school and our students,” she says.
This ray of sunshine is also the spoonful of sugar that helps the stress level go down!