Rosie Russell & Facility Dog Deacon
“When there is a dog in the classroom, you can feel a difference in the atmosphere,” says Rosie Russell, a special education teacher at Ashland Middle School in Oregon.
“It’s a calming, unifying thing,” she says. “Deacon brings a smile to everybody’s face.”
Rosie requested a Facility Dog at about the same time the pandemic began. Deacon had come to DBL through a career change from another service organization because he got fearful around traffic. When DBL paired Deacon with Rosie, his first service role was supporting the educators coping with online and hybrid learning.
“It’s still a stressful time in education,” Rosie says. “My colleagues are excited to see Deacon. They will stop by my classroom for some Deacon time.”
Rosie introduced her students to Deacon over video last year. She mostly works with students who have learning disabilities, anxiety, ADHD and/or autism.
Now that in-person school is back, the children are thrilled to get to be with Deacon.
Rosie says Deacon has lots of helpful skills. On command, he can give a high-five or lay his head in a lap. He can lay under a desk or next to an anxious child. At 70 pounds, he’s a big boy but very relaxed and calm.
“He loves the kids,” Rosie says. “When it’s allowed, Deacon loves to zigzag through a classroom to sniff and meet every kid in the room. Interacting with kids is his happy place. That, and rolling in the grass during his lunch break.”
Deacon is popular with all the students; even the children who don’t have a class with Rosie know Deacon. He provides a perfect icebreaker for shy children and a reassuring presence for anxious children who need a diversion.
“Deacon just brings joy to everyone he’s around,” Russell says.
Facility Dog Applications are Open
Facility Dogs are trained to do specific, skilled tasks and placed with working professionals or volunteers to help support them in their work with vulnerable populations and persons with disabilities (physical, mental, cognitive, sensory, or developmental). Applications are currently open for one of these life-changing dogs. Learn more and apply here.