Northwest Indiana school district puts dogs into every school this year

A Northwest Indiana school district has put dogs into every single school this year, and they claim they're already seeing results.

"What I’ve seen from our staff, our students, the vibe of the building has been fantastic,” said Nick Slater, Assistant Principal of Ben Franklin Elementary School. 

Assistant Principal Slater pops into classes with Zoe, his family pet, but also the official pup of the Valparaiso school.

Her main job there is to do what puppies do best: simply make people feel better. 

"We know that sometimes school can be tough, and we also know that not everybody has an easy day sometimes,” said Assistant Principal Slater.

"Everyone knows the power of animals right? And research has even shown what impact these dogs can have on kids, on staff, on anyone,” said Dr. Julie Lauck, Superintendent. 

Dr. Lauck has placed dogs in all 13 Valparaiso schools, thanks to one big litter of English cream golden retrievers and some quick fundraising. 

"For a superintendent within four hours to raise $12,000 from their community is pretty amazing,” said Dr. Lauck. “To me, that says a lot about how they support us."

Zoe comes from a litter of 10 and all of her siblings are working in schools where they've clearly reached celebrity status.

"There's a lot of kids that will kind of go above and beyond for that one-on-one time with Zoe,” said Assistant Principal Slater. 

Teachers can use Zoe time as a reward or incentive. However, Assistant Principal Slater says her true puppy power is comforting kids, like a little girl too upset for class. 

"It was like a switch with that student and just a calming effect came over that student," said Assistant Principal Slater.

Zoe and her littermates passed puppy school, with maybe a few accidents. 

"We'll keep that off the record for right now,” said Assistant Principal Slater. 

The puppies are now training as therapy dogs and already help counselors and social workers. 

Educators at the school say they know they are lucky, compared to other school districts struggling to fund the basics.


However, they insist their dogs make a difference for students. 

"Now, we also have that one extra element of someone who can be there for them, doesn't judge them, loves them, doesn't care who they are, what they've done, will just let them love on them,” said Dr. Lauck.

It’s a new resource, fast becoming a schools' best friend.