Therapy Animals Bring Smiles to Crossroads Park Elementary Students

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Students at Crossroads Park Elementary School had some surprise guests come to classes on Tuesday.

Therapy animals Webster the duck and Boogie the dog were both present at the kindergarten and first grade classrooms.

Kindergarten Teacher Jennifer Waring said the students have been learning about therapy animals the past week.

“To [help] understand that they are not scary animals. These are animals that are here to help us to make us feel better, to make us want to smile and be kind. That’s a big thing for kindergarteners',” Warning said.

K12 Project Based Learning Strategist for West Des Moines Schools Sheila Hudson said it is important to have a therapy animal in a classroom.

“It really helps us to maximize our learning for our students. Students may be having a hard day, you never know what happens in the life of a student. It’s either academic or personal, and a therapy dog has really helped us maximize the learning time that student has and really created a connection with school,” Hudson said.

Boogie and Webster both went through training before becoming a certified therapy animal.

“Go in and see what it looks like in a classroom. I didn’t have any experience with a therapy dog in a classroom until Boogie came into our lives. The difference it makes on a daily basis is not only to the students in the classroom, but the families that are in our school district speaks volumes,” Hudson said.

Boogie is a basic trained therapy dog that is there for support and comfort inside classrooms. While, Webster spends a lot of his time at assisted living facilities and children’s hospitals.