BY SHERI TRUSTY
Nearly every school day, one of R.C. Waters’ staff members can be caught taking a nap on the floor of the principal’s office. So far, no one has complained about her. Afterall, she spends each day being the comfort and advocate for a school full of children.
Lilly, a five-year-old Australian Labradoodle, is the school’s therapy dog. Her owner, R.C. Waters Principal Angie Lipstraw, wanted to make Lilly a part of the school community for a long time. Last year, Lilly completed specialized training at Talk Dog Toledo in Woodville.
“We went every Sunday for 14 weeks. The first seven weeks were on-site, and during the second seven weeks, we went to places like nursing homes and Lowes to see how she would respond,” Lipstraw said. “It was something I always wanted to do with Lilly, and the timing was perfect.”
Lilly was a training success, and in December, she started coming to school with Lipstraw every day.
“The kids just love seeing her. The second we walk in a classroom, the kids are excited,” Lipstraw said. “We visit all the classrooms. I try to get to every class, every day.”
Lipstraw talks to the students about the commands that Lilly has learned, and she utilizes Lilly’s dog training to help students understand the importance of their schoolwork.
“I make a connection. They come to school to learn and have to take tests just like Lilly did,” Lipstraw said.
As a therapy dog, Lilly offers emotional support to students. She has the skills – and an adorable, fluffy face – to help with mental health and behavioral issues.
“If a student is having a meltdown or just a bad day, just the presence of Lilly can bring a sense of security,” Lipstraw said. “They’ll open up more.”