Elementary School adds four legged friend
By Kate Johnson
Beulah Elementary made an addition to their staff this year that isn’t typical. Alex is a five-year-old Shetland sheepdog who will be assisting Elementary Counselor Heather Brandt.
Alex is a registered therapy dog and a long-time dream of Brandt’s. Since 2005 Brandt has had a dream of being the handler to a dog that has the ability to help children academically and behaviorally within a school setting.
She plans on having Alex take part in pet-assisted activities with students as well as with some therapy, to allow students to calm down and learn from Alex. Brandt has partnered with Pet Partners -- who Alex is registered through -- to allow her dreams to come true.
When the Brandt family first got Alex, outsiders said he was something special. Brandt knew that he was different, but didn’t fully grasp how different. Alex had this innate ability to sense pain, illness, and sadness, and his response was to console, to aide, and to calm.
Brandt began researching programs in North Dakota and came across Pet Partners. Once Alex went through his evaluation she heard the words again: that Alex is “special.” When reading up on the handler course and studying it, Brandt knew that this was something for Alex -- as he already did so many of the tools that would be taught.