Cuddling with a furry friend is always a joy. Students at one local elementary school will visit with one every month to become better citizens.
Students at North Joshua Elementary School interacted with Pax, a 4-year-old Golden Retriever who’s a comfort dog with LCC Comfort Dogs of Fort Worth, on Thursday.
One of his handlers, Janice Marut, said Pax started training when he was just 6 weeks old and has learned many commands.
He has interacted with all kinds of people, Marut said, including police officers, firefighters, doctors and nurses, hospital patients and military servicemen women. They all have one thing in common when they see Pax, she said, a smile on their face.
Every morning his handlers brush his teeth and brush out his fur, she said.
“We want to make sure wherever he goes he’s nice and clean and nice and soft,” she said. “During the day between visits, he might get brushed again because we don’t want to leave too much of his golden flakes of love around.”
Pax is trained not to bark, growl or wag his tail.
“When his vest is on, that means he’s working,” she said. “He knows when the vest goes on he has a command to listen for and lowers his head, which means he’s going to be calm and quite so that everybody — no matter what age they are — can just love on him and won’t be afraid of him.”
His vest says, “Pax,” which means peace, and also says, “Please pet me.”
When most people come into contact with dogs wearing vests, she said they shouldn’t be touched because they are working as service dogs. Pax’s vest says for people to pet him because his job is to comfort them, she said.
“Who wouldn’t love to love on a dog?” she asked.
NJES Principal Tammy Watts said this year their school-wide theme is “CIRCUS,” which stands for Caring, Integrity, Responsible, Cordial, Unique and Self-Discipline.
During their visits with comfort dogs each month, Watts said the students will listen to a book that pertains to these traits and discuss the importance of being a citizen with good character.
“Since research shows that communication is enhanced in the presence of comfort dogs, we will have open discussion with the students about ways to care for others and the importance of kindness,” she said. “Research also shows that comfort dogs visits in elementary schools lifts the moods of students and staff, encourages communication, increases socialization and decreases feelings of anxiety and loneliness.
“We want all of our students to feel comfortable with Pax and Phoebe and know that they are a source of comfort.”
Phoebe is the other comfort dog that volunteers with LCC Comfort Dogs.
Watts said they feel this program will be beneficial to their students.
“It’s important that we teach ours students the importance of good citizenship,” she said. “Reinforcing these valuable traits to our students while spending time with our new furry friends is a win-win for all.”
For information, visit comfortdogsfortworth.com.