Eagle Hill Middle School expands therapy dog program

This September, 3-year-old Shih Tzu, Kobe joined the Eagle Hill Middle School community. He is the latest addition to the Fayetteville-Manlius School District’s therapy dog program.

KobeKobe, who belongs to Eagle Hill school counselor Mrs. Aeri Chapman, will visit with students and staff in classrooms, at recess and in the counseling center approximately one to two days a week. He is Eagle Hill’s second therapy dog, joining German Shorthaired Pointer, Heartley who began serving as a therapy dog at Eagle Hill in February 2023.

The district’s therapy dog program launched during the 2019-20 school year in support of the district’s strategic plan, which includes a focus on creating a positive school environment.

“The presence of our therapy dogs has been a positive experience for both students and staff members. Having another therapy dog at Eagle Hill will offer multiple avenues to support our school community,” school counselor and program founder Dana Pierce said.

All of F-M’s therapy dogs have earned their American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification. While on school grounds, therapy dogs are always on a leash and accompanied by an adult. All interactions with the therapy dogs are voluntary so everyone within the building feels safe and comfortable.

Each F-M school has at least one therapy dog with a total of 14 therapy dogs in the district.