Facility Therapy Dog will Soon Join MHS Staff


Media by Dr. Robin Lady

Facility therapy dog, Remi, smiles after getting a new scarf. She has helped friends, family and neighbors cope with depression, anxiety and the loss of loved ones. “We’re getting her as much interaction as possible,” Dr. Lady said.

Dr. Robin Lady, gifted resource teacher, drove home from Columbia, Mo., in April with her fiancé and their new labrador retriever, Remi, in her lap. 

She  knew Remi was an uber-sensitive dog when the then 5-month-old dog stayed in the fetal position the whole car ride home. 

She knew Remi was an empathetic, focused and understanding animal.

And, she knew Remi would be a great therapy dog, and so she started her training immediately after getting her.

“When I sat down and started to research, she would put her head on my lap and I would pet her,” Dr. Lady said. “It was so calming, and I was able to get a lot of work done.”

Now, Remi is approved to join other therapy dogs in RSD.  Pond Elementary, Rockwood Valley Middle, Crestview Middle, and Wildhorse Elementary have also implemented a facility therapy dog to work in the building. 

Remi passed her American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen test on Friday, Oct. 15, and is well on her way to becoming a certified therapy dog, Dr. Lady said. Remi turned 1 in November, so she is now allowed in schools, but Dr. Lady said she probably won’t be brought into school until January of 2022. 

Dr. Lady said she feels less stressed when Remi is around; therefore, Remi would be great for students who are struggling at school. (Media by Dr. Robin Lady)

The Canine Good Citizen is a 10-skill training program that teaches dogs the basics of obedience and good manners. After mastering the 10 skills, dogs become AKC Canine Good Citizens. 

She is now working on her AKC Therapy Dog Title, which exceeds requirements for her to be a facility therapy dog.

Part of Remi’s purpose will be to help students who are anxious to read out loud, Dr. Lady said. 

Dogs can’t judge kids, and they can’t give them a grade. This will result in a significant reduction of anxiety attacks and stressful situations.

— Dr. Robin Lady

“Dogs can’t judge kids, and they can’t give them a grade,” Dr. Lady said. “This will result in a significant reduction of anxiety attacks and stressful situations.”

Remi also will help teach students basic pet ownership skills, provide stress reduction for students and staff and facilitate happiness through a human to animal bond. 

Dr. Lady said she takes Remi everywhere to expose her to different places such as stores, restaurants, the ballpark and softball games and to give her interactions with people of all ages and appearances. 

“This continued exposure that Remi is getting confirms that this is absolutely her line of work,” Dr. Lady said. 

Ella Derstine, junior, has experience with a service dog, her miniature goldendoodle, Tiffany, who is 4 years old. 

Derstine said Tiffany was originally trained to work in hospitals and help patients with anxiety, but, COVID-19 ceased the hospital work for Tiffany. However, Tiffany was able to work in her own home over quarantine. 

“I developed really bad anxiety over quarantine,” Derstine said. 

Melody Kaplan, Crestview Middle School (CMS) language arts teacher, sits with her dog Clayton in front of her classroom. Clayton has created a connection between all students and staff at CMS. “Clayton is always excited to see everyone, and that rubs off on people,” Kaplan said. (Media by Karen Farmer)

Derstine said Tiffany sits by her and lets her pet her until she feels calm again. 

Everyone in the building has found a way to benefit from Clayton regardless of their age or situation. He really brings joy to everyone, and I hope Dr. Lady’s dog has the same effect at Marquette.

— Melody Kaplan

“I know so many kids at Marquette, including myself, that will benefit from having a dog like Tiffany available at school,” Derstine said. “I think this will be a great asset.”

Melody Kaplan teaches seventh grade language arts at Crestview Middle School (CMS). Kaplan has an emotional support goldendoodle, Clayton, that has worked at CMS since January of 2019. 

“We find that so many students come to school just to see Clayton,” Kaplan said. 

Students stop by to say hello to Clayton and take him for a walk if they need to get out of the building. Teachers use time with Clayton as a reward for good behavior in their own classrooms, Kaplan said. 

Kaplan has become friends with so many students, teachers, cafeteria workers and custodians because of Clayton, and she said she would not have connected with them otherwise.

“Everyone in the building has found a way to benefit from Clayton regardless of their age or situation,” Kaplan said. “He really brings joy to everyone, and I hope Dr. Lady’s dog has the same effect at Marquette.”