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Therapy Dogs Visit School of the Arts

(March 27, 2024) Students at School of the Arts (SOTA) are experiencing the benefits of therapy dogs who help address mental health within the school community.  Welcoming these four-legged companions to school as integral members of its counseling team represents a unique approach to providing social-emotional support in a nurturing and impactful manner. 

Among the roster of therapy dogs at SOTA is Greta, a four-year-old Great Dane, who is part of Therapy Dogs International, a dedicated group of volunteers who regularly visit the school.  “We had to put my dog down during COVID, and getting to see dogs again in school has really helped me,” said Brooklyn Graham, a junior at SOTA.  “They help me be calm, smile, and happy.”

Now in its sixth year at SOTA, the therapy dog program has integrated into the school’s social-emotional support system.  “It brings a whole new impression, especially when the only dogs many of these kids ever see are behind fences barking at them. There is a whole other side to this,” said Sherry Vandermallie, a physical education teacher at SOTA, who is the educator in charge of coordinating the therapy dog program at the school. 

During this school year alone, teams of volunteers and their dogs have spent 200 hours in classrooms with students at SOTA.  The dogs, an assortment of breeds, all undergo required training and must complete a 10-part test to be allowed into schools to serve as certified therapy dogs. Therapy Dogs International has been training dogs since 1976. For more information, please visit