Dog is “Magic” to Students
It may seem strange for a dog to be in a classroom setting; however, for Magic, a golden retriever, school is now his home. Karen Bade of Perrysburg, Ohio is Magic’s foster parent and a volunteer for Assistance Dogs of America, Inc. (ADAI) in Swanton, Ohio. Bade, who teaches at Arlington Elementary in Toledo, Ohio took Magic to school with her each day from October 2005 until the end of March 2006. Magic was training to be a therapy dog in the Tiffin School System, where he was placed in April 2006.
In order for her students, as well as Magic, to excel, Bade chose a different student to train the dog each day. During their “free choice time” the students helped the dog prepare for his future work-providing love, attention and comfort to school-aged children. The Arlington students also read to him during their D.E.A.R. time (Drop Everything and Read.) Bade feels the dog has positively affected her students by helping them grow as individuals and making them more enthusiastic about school.
According to Bade, raising a therapy dog can be slightly overwhelming at first, but the professional trainers at ADAI are a great help. When a dog arrives at a new home, the foster provides minimal and basic training. The ADAI trainers provide a lot of guidance and they assist with more in-depth training as time progresses.
Bade says it is horrible to give up a puppy once it is trained, but after you see how important the dog becomes to the new owner, it’s all worth it. She said watching the dog and client interact for the first time is very moving.
“It changes their lives,” she said of clients. Assistance dogs not only help clients with physical tasks, they also seem to have an emotional impact on a person that is different than another human being is able to offer.
Magic has joined the Tiffin City Schools under the direction of Suzanne Reinhart, a school counselor. She believes the dog will interact with the students in a different way-giving them a sense of responsibility and compassion. He will be used with about 250 students in grades K-5.
ADAI helps children and adults with physical disabilities achieve greater independence by training and placing service and therapy dogs to assist with the individual’s daily needs. The organization places about 15-20 dogs within a 250- mile radius of Northwest Ohio. The foster volunteers, as well as the staff of ADAI share a common goal- to make a difference in the lives of people who are most in need of assistance. ADAI relies on volunteer fosters and puppy raisers to reach our mission. We are always looking for new foster volunteers. For more information on raising puppies and fostering dogs, please visit our website at www.adai.org or call the office of ADAI at 419-825-3622.