Student Services

Therapy Dogs

Dogs are miracles with paws, according to counselors, teachers, social workers and administrators at Lincoln Public Schools who bring four-legged critters into their schools and classroom.

The dog program at LPS was launched years ago by Dick Spearman, former principal at Mickle Middle School, who convinced teacher Jean Keister to bring Riley the Dog to school. Ttoday there are now 44 pet therapy teams at LPS and more in training.

How to sign up

Learn more about signing up, and for follow-up contact John Neal.

"We are a model for schools in the country because of the dogs and the people."
John-Neal_avatar-96x96
John Neal
Assistant to the Superintendent

Meet the Team

Mrs. Wiebeck, Sheridan Elementary

Favorite hobby: Playing in the sprinkler

Favorite meal: scrambled eggs

Favorite trick: anything with a treat at the end!

Favorite chase item: Frisbee

What do you love about going to school?

I LOVE having my friends read to me at school and especially getting treats!

What do you see as your job at school?

My job is to let my friends pet me and comfort those who need a little puppy lovin'

 

Sara Andersson, Pyrtle

Favorite hobby: I love to take long walks and hang with my humans.

Favorite meal: I appreciate when my humans sneak me bits of human food.

Favorite trick: I can shake and give a high five.

Favorite chase item: bunnies & squirrels, but I'm always on a leash, I enjoy playing fetch with kids

What do you love about going to school?

I love being able to hangout with all my human classmates. They like to read to me and play with me at recess.

What do you see as your job at school?

My job is to be there when kids are struggling and just need someone to listen. My job is to be petted throughout the day by students and staff alike.

Anna Hower, Meadow Lane Elementary

Favorite hobby: Going on walks and playing with other dogs.

Favorite meal: I love lunch meat and popcorn.

Favorite trick: I can shake and catch a tennis ball in my mouth

Favorite chase item: I like to chase tennis balls, bunnies and squirrels.

What do you love about going to school?

I like all of my friends giving me attention and the students who read to me.

What do you see as your job at school?

My job is to greet students and staff and let them pet me, help students calm down, be a listener, and make sure each person I'm with feels loved at school!

Kim Jacobson, Meadow Lane Elementary

Favorite hobby: playing fetch and tug-a-war

Favorite meal: peanut butter or chicken treats

Favorite trick: standing on my back legs and dancing

Favorite chase item: Ball

What do you love about going to school?

I am a puggle, and we love to cuddle! And, I love when humans give me treats!

What do you see as your job at school?

I have the very best job at school since I get to be a friend to every kid and staff member! I work to make sure all of the humans know they are loved and appreciated. I am always ready to cuddle, take a walk, or play fetch when someone needs to calm down, feels sad, needs a brain break, or feels lonely.

Jordan Milliken, North Star, Lincoln High

Favorite hobby: Crocheting

Favorite meal: Blueberries and Stinky French Cheese

Favorite trick: Seeking attention

Favorite chase item: Rabbit

What do you love about going to school?

All of my friends who give me attention

What do you see as your job at school?

Helping students calm down, find joy, and improve their reading scores

Anne Fargen, Kooser Elementary School

Favorite hobby: Getting pet by humans I love

Favorite meal: Anything with bacon flavor

Favorite trick: High-Fiving

Favorite chase item: Ball

What do you love about going to school?

Seeing how happy the students are when I greet them in the morning, all of the smiles and pets I get, and being around kids I love.

What do you see as your job at school?

To encourage students to do their best and be their best at school, to provide help when students are anxious, sad, mad, or unsure of themselves, to help them want to come to school, to provide unconditional love, and to keep kids happy and safe.

Lyndsay Lierman, Clinton Elementary

Favorite hobby: Going for walks and sun bathing on my deck.

Favorite meal: Grilled steak

Favorite trick: High-fives

Favorite chase item: Squirrel

What do you love about going to school?

Seeing the kids and getting a lot of pets!

What do you see as your job at school?

To help kids focus and feel relaxed when learning gets hard.

Tracie Chapo, North Star

Favorite hobby: running in the wetland at North Star

Favorite meal: Raising Cane's chicken

Favorite trick: fetch

Favorite chase item: Ball

What do you love about going to school?

Getting petted by my fan club between classes

What do you see as your job at school?

Making sure kids know someone is glad to see them as they come through the door.

Rich Aust, Roper

Favorite hobby: Going to the Park

Favorite meal: Steak and Popcorn

Favorite trick: Fetch the ball

Favorite chase item: Ball

What do you love about going to school?

Visiting with kids and staff

What do you see as your job at school?

Helping kids learn.

Jodi Alva, Pound Middle School

Favorite hobby: Playing with my toys and getting love from my humans

Favorite meal: Anything a human drops!

Favorite trick: Getting humans to carry me (all I have to do is sit down and look cute!)

Favorite chase item: Ball

What do you love about going to school?

Getting to see all of the kids - especially when they pet me!

What do you see as your job at school?

I like to help kids when they are feeling sad or anxious. I will sit on their lap or walk with them until they are feeling better.

Tami Rembolt, Mickle and Lux

Favorite hobby: chewing on bones

Favorite meal: Chipoltle leftovers that mom left in a pretty white bowl on the table.

Favorite trick: playing fetch with ANYTHING

Favorite chase item: rabbit

What do you love about going to school?

I LOVE seeing the students and getting attention from them all day.

What do you see as your job at school?

I have so many jobs at school! Greeting students, helping them be calm and happy, setting good examples for them by walking quietly in the hallway, and the most important is loving each and every one of the students!

Adrienne Schlake, Northeast High School

Favorite hobby: Luna's favorite hobby is to run!

Favorite meal: Anything but dog food

Favorite trick: Singing

Favorite chase item: Squirrel

What do you love about going to school?

Mr. Kurt Glathar (principal) and Northeast have been so welcoming to having a therapy dog, and it’s been a wonderful to see how Luna interacts with others. She is always happy to be at work, and loves to meet and greet everyone – both students and staff. Working as a therapy dog team has been such a great and rewarding opportunity to create a dialogue with people I probably would not have met otherwise.

What do you see as your job at school?

Of the many things Luna does at school, her #1 job is to spread comfort and happiness to others. She visits students and staff daily though out the building and makes sure to say "hello" every morning to her favorite people. She takes her additional duties very seriously including singing along to the pledge of allegiance and makes sure to never miss supervising the hallway during passing.

Mackenzie Wylie, Saratoga

Favorite hobby: Car rides with mom

Favorite meal: Popsicles

Favorite trick: Catching the ball in the air!

Favorite chase item: Ball

What do you love about going to school?

Walking with the students around the track

What do you see as your job at school?

To be a listening ear to any student who may need it.

Victoria Heaton, Calvert Elementary

Favorite hobby: Cuddling with my mom.

Favorite meal: Peanut butter

Favorite trick: Using my cute eyes to get more attention.

Favorite chase item: I love to chase my brothers (Mowgli and Simba)

What do you love about going to school?

I love seeing all of my friends and being able to put a smile on their faces! I also love being held all day long, getting plenty of snuggles, and treats!

What do you see as your job at school?

My job at school is to help my friends be calm and productive. I also make sure to lick up any tears that fall and replace them with laughter and joy. My purpose is to encourage my friends to do their absolute best no matter how hard it gets and to be a listening ear for any struggles they may face. It makes me so happy to see the smiles that I put on their faces.

Tara Troy, East High School

Favorite hobby: Chasing any splashing at the swimming pool

Favorite meal: "Snausage" Treats

Favorite trick: Giving high-fives to students

Favorite chase item: Ball

What do you love about going to school?

Seeing how students benefit from having him at school.

What do you see as your job at school?

Helping students have a positive high school experience!

Wendy Badje, Rousseau

Favorite hobby: Burying things.

Favorite meal: My meals are usually the same (dog food). However, sometimes I get to go into the teacher's lounge and eat the crumbs off the floor.

Favorite trick: To lay down on my side so the kids will rub my belly.

Favorite chase item: Squirrel

What do you love about going to school?

I love the attention I get. Sometimes I just lay down in the hallway and the kids pet me as they go by. The kids make me cards for my birthday. I love it when children read to me. Sometimes a student is sad, and I can cheer them up by licking their nose. I know I am important because I get to be in all of the school pictures.

What do you see as your job at school?

I am here to help make Rousseau a warm and welcoming place to be. The kids love me, but so do the parents and the teachers. If a student doesn't want to come in from recess, they call me. I will go outside and walk them in. Kids work hard so they can spend time with me.

Jodi Alva, Pound Middle

Favorite hobby: Going on walks with my human

Favorite meal: Anything my humans drop!

Favorite trick: standing and catching food

Favorite chase item: my human

What do you love about going to school?

Getting to hang with all of the kids

What do you see as your job at school?

I love helping kids who are sad or anxious by walking with them and showing them all of my tricks.

Susie Mahoney, Randolph

Favorite hobby: Licking kids and chewing sticks

Favorite meal: Cheese that has the special plastic wrapper

Favorite trick: Flopping on the ground to get belly rubs.

Favorite chase item: Slow bunnies

What do you love about going to school?

I love seeing kids, smelling kids, helping kids learn to trust me, checking pockets for treats, and did I mention KIDS??

What do you see as your job at school?

I make kids smile no matter what kind of day they're having, help them learn to love reading, and hang out with my adoring fans who love to see me.

Benefits of the program

  • Increases positive hallway behavior.
  • Increases concentration and work completion.
  • Improves school attendance.
  • Gives student an incentive to meet academic and behavioral goals.
  • Reduces anxiety.
  • Provides students with a nonjudgmental partner.
  • Increases motivation for physical activity/occupational therapy.
  • Elevates mood of staff and students.
  • Provides emotional support during times of stress.
  • Creates a warm school environment.

How do you get your dog certified?

  • Pre-approval from building principal and your supervisor.
  • Successful completion of a pet therapy certification program.
  • Pet therapy certification: AKC Canine Good Citizen Certification, and necessary medical records.
  • Submit the Pet Therapy Dog Log and Building Guidelines for final school district approval.
  • Recertification is required biannually.

Video: Dogs, A School's Best Friend

Impact of Therapy Dogs on students

Sugar Bear

Sugar Bear is a therapy dog in training – the fourth therapy dog for Susie Mahoney from Randolph Elementary School. “Zeke was my first dog, one of the first in the school district, and he did a lot of listening to beginning readers, often reluctant and struggling readers…In fact, we had one eighth grade boy come back to Randolph and tell us that Zeke was the only reason he had become a good reader.”

Betsy

“Betsy has a way of connecting with children, she senses when kids are stressed out and I’ve seen such a huge transition with calming down kids,” said Schyler Lindekugel-Sullivan, a school social worker at LPS who often brings along her therapy dog, Betsy.  

Peanut

Shawnie Motschenbacher, a teacher at Lincoln North Star High School, brought Peanut to the Learning Lunch Tuesday and pointed out: “Many of my students are nonverbal…and I’ve seen students who are agitated…but as soon as they see the dog, and pet the dog, you can just feel the student starting to calm down and de-escalate. No words and no judgments.”

Ellie

Pound Middle School teacher Steve Spieker said he saw a profound impact in bringing Ellie to school: “This year we have a number of students who have lost loved ones, and when they come to see Ellie it’s just a comforting place to be. They can talk to her; they know she’s there for them.”

Contact

Russ Uhing
Director, Student Services
duhing@lps.org | 402-436-1650

P.O. Box 82889
Lincoln, Nebraska 68501