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RCS facility dogs pass Canine Good Citizen test

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Archie, a Labrador retriever, was the first facility dog on the RCS campus. Courtesy of RCS Central School District

RAVENA-COEYMANS-SELKIRK — What a good dog!

Make that “dogs.”

The RCS school district’s three facility dogs last week passed their Canine Good Citizen test. The test is the first of two they will have to pass. Next will be the Therapy Dog test.

Archie, Odie and Rosy all passed their first test with flying colors.

The facility dog program at RCS launched at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year with Archie; Odie and Rosy soon joined him on the schools’ grounds.

The RCS Board of Education approved its Therapy Dog Policy in early 2020. The program pairs staff members from across the district who volunteer to undergo specialized training to act as owners, or handlers, of the dogs.

Each of the facility dogs goes to school with their handler every day, and then goes home with them when the school day is over. The animals visit classrooms and interact with children and staff who want to do so.

Rosy is a Goldendoodle who started working at RCS Middle School in January 2023. Courtesy of RCS Central School District

The district’s three dogs were selected for their temperament and ability to undergo training and have extensive interaction with children all day long.

“Some of the key behavioral ingredients for a successful facility dog are calmness, patience, an eagerness to be social, and comfort with being touched,” according to the district website. “Our facility dogs will always be on a leash when walking around our schools with a handler.”

A study published by the National Institutes of Health indicated that “having a dog present in the classroom promotes a positive mood and provides significant anti-stress effects on the body,” according to the district website. “Therapy dogs also provide a ‘connection’ with students that allows them to become more than an occasional friend or visitor to the classroom. The study also indicates the connection between interacting with animals its impact on improving social interaction.”

Odie goes to Pieter B. Coeymans Elementary School every day and interacts with the students. Courtesy of RCS Central School District
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