Therapy Dogs Playing Important Role in Lakeview Christian Academy Students

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: February 26, 2020 05:38 PM

Dogs are important parts of our family. They give us unconditional love and support when we need them. A local Duluth school is making them a part of students everyday life and learning experience.


Lakeview Christian Academy has resource dogs who are making a significant difference in students who struggle in school. In the short time they've been there, the school has seen great results in students.

Therapy dog Layla is more than just a cuddly puppy. Her very presence provides third grader Lulu and other students at Lakeview Christian Academy extra help and attention.

"We've seen kids that were maybe struggling in the classroom and now their grades have improved because they get this opportunity to go interact with the dog. It helps on the emotional level too that's the big thing is that they're able to kind of relay some of their feelings and thoughts with these dogs," said Aaron Walls, the head of the school at Lakeview Christian Academy.

"There was an instant connection between Lulu and the dog. Layla just has a really good sense of intuition when students need something," said Candy Pappas, the resource director for Lakeview Christian Academy.

Layla is Candy's dog. Candy helps students with special learning needs at the school. She started bringing Layla in a few months ago to help students she works with and instantly saw the impact it was making.

"Layla has been amazing for Lulu and other students as well. I've really found that she has enhanced my job in terms of providing an incentive that lasts for kids," said Pappas. "Lulu is working on many different things with fine motor and gross motor and playing fetch with a dog requires so many skills that we take for granted like being able to track a ball and throw a ball and kneel down to pick up a ball. It has been beneficial for my students."

Students like Lulu get puppy time with Layla and the other therapy dogs at the school named Zeke and Raven. They go on walks with students, perform tricks and brighten everyone's day.

"It gives them a break to go into something where they get some confidence, and they go back into the classroom and they feel just a little bit better and they just tend to help them a lot," said Walls.

School staff said they've seen improvement on a behavorial and academic level in students. Layla, Zeke, and Raven have motivated them to excel and have given them that comfort and support they need.

"These dogs have made a huge impact on them and just allowing them to kind of flourish and kind of grow in areas that we haven't seen growth with other things," said Walls.


Alejandra Palacios

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