With too few dogs to go around, one is helping students via email, online games

features@islandpacket.comJune 7, 2014 

Carolina, a therapy dog at Beaufort Elementary School, is called “Dr. Câ€



    Email David Lauderdale at dlauderdale@islandpacket.com.

Thanks to Cora Fay of Lady's Island for sharing a story about her dog, Carolina. Cora is a member of the Beaufort Chapter 229 of Therapy Dogs International.

'Paws for Technology'

by Cora Fay

Beaufort Elementary School, where my mixed-breed dog Carolina and I volunteer, has an awesome therapy dog program. The school has eight dog-handler teams and the canines are involved in every aspect of the school life, including tutoring, literacy night, and even the petting zoo at the Halloween carnival.

However, even with eight dogs, there are never enough to go around. There would only be enough dogs if there were one for every classroom. The dogs go first to classes that need the most reading help. Naturally, those classes not assigned a therapy dog are unhappy.

One of the classes without a dog had a resourceful solution. With the help of the teacher, the students created a secure email account for Carolina so the children could correspond with her regularly. Whether they're having a blue day, just need a friend, or have a question, this therapy pup is always available with a reply.

The first day we opened Carolina's email account, there were 60 messages in the inbox. Questions ranged from "Did you ride the bus when you went to therapy dog school?" to "What do you want to be when you grow up?" One little guy wanted to know if Carolina remembered that he had been the first to give her a cuddle when she visited the class.

For reasons known only to fifth-graders, the kids christened the dog "Dr. Carolina" and address her as "Dr. C."

Last semester, we hosted a trivia contest online called "Paws for a Challenge." Winners received a doggie bag of prizes each week. This year, Carolina will sponsor an online geography contest titled "Where in the World is Dr. Carolina?" The weekly winner will receive a photo session with Carolina and a framed picture.

Of course, nothing takes the place of a visit to the classroom. However, this is a fun way to spread the joy of therapy dogs just a bit further.

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