Chicago high school throws birthday bash for beloved therapy dog

Getting through high school can certainly induce a lot of stress, which is why one high school on Chicago's Northwest Side has fallen in love with a furry four-legged counselor.

And on Wednesday, it was a special day for Patrick – the therapy dog at Saint Patrick High School.

Every Wednesday, and during high-stress periods like final exams, you’ll find Patrick the Goldendoodle trotting down the hallways at St. Patrick High School and visiting students in their classrooms.

Three years ago, Melissa Moroko adopted Patrick from a Facebook rescue group. She quickly noticed his ability to put people at ease, especially when Melissa visited her son’s school.

"I was surprised. I had no idea what the therapy dog situation is all about," said Moroko. "They pulled me aside and said, can we do this every week?"

After some formal training, Patrick got his school staff name tag, and has now become a valuable member of the school community.

"It just brings smiles to their faces whether they have a dog or don’t have a dog," said Principal John Harrington. "The boys love to interact with him. The teachers love to interact with him. He’s part of our community and part of the family."

So on Wednesday, Patrick’s third birthday, the school community paid it back with a party in the cafeteria featuring music, balloons, and a Patrick cake.

Brendon Flowers was one of scores of students taking pictures with Patrick.

"He can help us mentally, or if we’re going through something he’ll help us out. It’s comforting."

Patrick has become such a part of the school that he even has his own YouTube channel and Instagram page.

"I’ll be honest with you, when I first heard about it, I was very skeptical. I’m thinking, a dog?" said Brother David Galinski, who has been working at St. Patrick high school for 53 years. "But after I’ve seen him, the effect it has on kids, you have to see it to believe it."

Patrick’s owner said she sees the effect the dog has on the teenage boys when they arrive every Wednesday morning.

"They’re dragging their feet. Their heads messed, like this is horrible," said Moroko. "And as soon as they see Patrick, it’s ‘Pats here! It’s Wednesday!’ You hear the kids go, ‘This is Wednesday, it’s my favorite day at Saint Pat’s because Patrick is here.’ It changes everything."