Therapy dog helps students through trying school year

by | Aug 5, 2021

Ella with an AMS student last fall [submitted photo]

Auburn Middle School’s newest staff member was the furry, four-legged type. Ella has been a therapy dog at Auburn Middle School – along with her handler School Counselor Kim Sicurella – since the fall of 2020. Ella was trained through AaTs (Animal Assisted Therapy Service) led by trainer Kim Fontaine.  

Ella attends school every Tuesday and Thursday.  She greets students in the morning and attends some classes.  She also has lunch duty and afternoon dismissal duty.

Students earn the privilege to take Ella for walks.  She often helps get kids into school when they are having a rough start to the day.  She likes to assist students when struggling to get off the bus because she has even learned that some bus drivers have dog treats with them. 

Recently, students were given an assignment to write a note to a Teacher (or Dog) they will never forget. Some of the students’ responses show just how much of an impact Bella has had on some students.

I have selected Ella as the dog that most impacted me this year because, “You are cute and you make me smile.  I love seeing you in the morning when I walk into school. You have taught me to be calm and not be sad” wrote Bella Rufli.

Mirabelle Silva added, “You always make me smile when I walk in the door.  It is always nice to see a cute dog like you when I am sad.  You have taught me to be less sad and I always loved it when you visited our class in Art.”

Ella curls up with an AMS student during a break in the school day [submitted photo]

Tucker Benton likes how Ella greets him at school in the morning. “I smile whenever I see you [Ella] in the morning, by always making me happy to start off the day.  Petting your head makes me very happy.”