Dogs for the Deaf brings program assistance dog to Eagle Point elementary school

Dogs for the Deaf, Nov. 30th 2016, (KTVL/Megan Allison)

EAGLE POINT, Ore. -- Dallas is a two-year-old program assistance dog.

Hillside Elementary teacher Sean Dugan-Strout has been advocating to bring a dog to his classroom. He said Dallas is trained specifically to work with students.

"If someone is visibly upset we're working on training him to understand...for Dallas to see or recognize that the student is noticibly upset. So Dallas can immediately just go to that student too and give him a little bit of comfort and a little bit of support too," Dugan-Strout said.

Principal Jodi Salinas said her school already has a therapy dog, but when Dogs for the Deaf offered to train a program assistance dog to be in a classroom daily, the school had to say yes.

"Some students don't connect as well with other students yet they're able to connect with an animal on a different level. And so for example with our therapy dog they'll go and read with the dog and feel like they have a partner," Salinas said.

Dugan-Strout said that connection is important for students to make before they go into middle school.

"This is a transitional period for kids when they're figuring out who they are academically but also outside of the classroom. And so it's good for the students to get one more added connection where they can see Dallas as a positive thing in our classroom," he said.

Dogs for the Deaf normally only puts dogs in classrooms for special needs students. This is the first time Jackson County School District Nine has allowed a program assistance dog in a general classroom.

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