Meet Anna, the friendly service dog of St. Patrick Catholic School!
Anna was gifted to St. Patrick Catholic School (Portland) in February of 2022 and was fully certified as a facility dog through Canines for Change on June 30, 2022. Since the beginning of this school year, Anna has been hard at work providing students with support they need - whether that is quiet time and practicing reading with her, playing games with her, or just being greeted by her when they arrive in the morning.
“As an educator, I’ve always had dogs in my classrooms to support students’ social/emotional and literacy needs.
I’ve always dreamed that one day I could bring a full-time facility dog to St. Patrick School,” said Cortney Smith, the principal of the elementary school and Anna’s primary handler. Cortney reached out to Canines for Change in hopes of obtaining one, but the process was postponed while Cortney developed a financial plan required for a therapy dog.
A few months later, Farm Bureau Insurance Agency of Portland surprised the school by generously funding a service dog through Canines for Change. “I was instantly filled with joy!” says Cortney, “I immediately began attending training classes as Anna’s intermediate trainer and handler.” Anna now lives with Cortney and the two of them share a daily commute.
Anna’s primary role at the school is to provide a calming presence to students who are struggling with self-regulation and anxiety. Her presence also helps students to connect and to form good relationships with others in the school community. She also participates in school events, such as spirit days and even attends sports games!
Her most recent debut? The St. Patrick’s Middle School Dance. “She sure helped break the ice!” says Cortney. “And I think she had some fun too. She even got out on the dance floor.”
To see more photos of Anna and the dogs of Catholic schools, click here.