Dogs are commonly referred to as “man’s best friend,” and seeing Tessa, the therapy dog, in action brought truth to the statement. The 6-year-old, German Wire Hair attends school most days with her owner and is a friend and so much more to the students with whom she interacts at Spencer Middle School.
Tessa’s owner and Spencer Middle School teacher associate, Jaymie Krukow knew how good-natured Tessa was, and she started taking her to a nursing home to visit her grandmother. All of the residents loved Tessa. It was then that Krukow did some checking to see what it would take to get her certified as a therapy dog.
Utilizing her research, Krukow began the long, costly process of training and testing. In order to become a therapy dog, Tessa had to pass rigorous procedures while being subjected to different environments including individuals, groups of people and other dogs exhibiting a variety of distractions. Specific responses such as aggressiveness, shyness, pulling, barking and not following directives were some of the responses that would result in automatic test failure. Tessa passed the testing, and at the expense of the Krukow family, became a certified, therapy dog.
Krukow believes that Tessa benefits the classroom environment noting that tension with students can be lessened. “It seems that Tessa can tell when kids are stressed, and she will go up and sit by them, and it always helps,” said Krukow. Middle school teacher, Cindy Glover added, “Tessa warms everyone’s heart, and people just naturally reach down to pet her.”
Throughout the day, Tessa travels with Krukow as she shifts between classes. Students don’t seem distracted by Tessa’s presence as she has become a normal part of their daily routine. One student shared that Tessa is his best friend, while 7th grader Makenna Pierce remarked, “I enjoy having a dog in the classroom. Sometimes she will walk around, and you can pet her. It’s nice.”