Facility dog brings smiles to Meadow View Elementary

Published 9:54 am Monday, January 30, 2023

By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

ALABASTER –  An Alabaster City Schools facility dog recently visited several classes at Meadow View Elementary School to comfort and bring smiles to students.

Reagan, a 5-year-old golden retriever, visited Meadow View Elementary School on Friday, Jan. 20.

“I have heard such great feedback from our students at Meadow View about how great the day was and how much they enjoyed having Reagan visit them,” said Dorann Tanner, chief student services officer.

Facility dogs like Reagan, help address anxiety, bullying, promote self-confidence, social skills and provide companionship. They can also help students be academically successful and assist with general test anxiety.

“Alabaster City Schools have had a facility dog since we became a system,” Tanner said. “Our first facility dog retired after COVID, so we really wanted to get additional facility dogs because we just feel like it’s such a great program for our students.”

ACS currently has three facility dogs, Reagan, Max and Stevie.

“We are so excited to have those for our students,” Tanner said. “They’re just great. It just makes you feel good and makes you happy and (helps) relieve stress, and they’re just a great asset to our school system.”

Regan has the most qualifications out of the three facility dogs that currently serve ACS. Reagan has earned AKC Canine Good Citizen, AKC Community Canine, AKC Urban Canine and Therapy Prep 1.

“She has the most experience,” Tanner said. “She has actually been around for a while because her handler (Audra Faust) is one of our dance coaches, and she brought her along quite a bit with the dance team.”

Unlike assistance dogs, professionally trained facility dogs work with a trainer or handler to serve multiple people who need social interaction, motivation, comfort or a feeling of safety. Facility dogs have friendly temperaments and like to be pet.

“I think they’re just goodwill ambassadors for our school system,” Tanner said. “(They’re) basically like a community pet that lowers stress, make them happy, gives them an incentive to do well.”

Tanner said facility dogs are used at times to help during testing to alleviate the stress and anxiety associated with testing.

Research shows the use of therapy dogs is also useful to aid those diagnosed with autism and other learning and behavioral disorder and emotion disorders. They may also be beneficial in aiding children with background of trauma, abuse and neglect.

Tanner shared her favorite thing about Reagan.

“My favorite thing about her is her facial (expressions),” Tanner said. “When she’s with kids it looks like she is smiling. She just looks happy. She has her own warrior jersey so you can see her on the sidelines a lot at sporting events.”

ACS facility dogs participate in district wide events, giving an opportunity to reach all students in all ACS schools. There are also opportunities to help those outside of the Alabaster school system as well.

“Our (other) facility dog, Max, is going to Chilton County to help out with a special needs prom,” Tanner said. “We’re always willing to share our facility dogs and take them to other communities too.”