Dakoda the Therapy Dog Helps Walled Lake High Schoolers

Walled Lake Western High School has a new and non-traditional employee – Dakota the therapy dog. Meet Dakoda and find out how she helps students and staff.

High school can be a very stressful time. Students often have too much homework, pressure about their futures and social issues with their peers.

In her 20 years as a social worker at Walled Lake Western High School, Ann Gray has seen the impact, from students collapsing in tears to fights in the hallways.

That’s why she worked with the school board to bring a new stress-reducing element to their school: a yellow Lab retriever named Dakoda.

After nine months of intensive training, Dakoda is well-qualified for the position of student soother – and she holds the title of Oakland County’s first high school therapy dog.

5 benefits of therapy dogs

Here’s what Walled Lake Western High School social worker Ann Gray has seen since therapy dog Dakoda entered the scene this school year.

1. Lower performance/social anxiety

“I saw one student crying in the office, she was very stressed, depressed and just sitting on the floor,” Gray says. “When Dakoda approached, her demeanor changed, she relaxed. I have a hundred stories just like that.”

2. Reduce fights and incidents among students

“Some of the areas in the hallways have had high incidences of violence in the past. You can feel drama building when you walk past. But teens know when the dog is around, and they don’t want to disrupt that. (Dakoda) brings the angst down.”

3. Form bonds between students

“In the hallway, you can tell who’s withdrawn. When Dakoda approaches, those kids are suddenly talking to others and the dog. Before they would walk through the halls with their heads down.”

4. Help teachers perform better

“She is great for the staff. She calms them down, and helps them be more open to teaching,” Gray says. She also says that personally, thinking about seeing Dakoda makes going into work more enjoyable.

Dakoda Fast Facts

  • Age: Turned 1 year old on Aug. 15
  • Breed: Yellow Labrador retriever
  • Favorite toys:Chew toys and tennis balls
  • Favorite activities:Running around her host family’s yard

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

LATEST STORIES

State of Michigan Education Report 2023: What Parents Need to Know

We read Michigan's annual education report so you don't have to. Here's the crucial information parents should know.

Is Overnight Camp Right For Your Child?

Summer rite of passage or a scary proposition? For many parents, including this local mom, it's a toss up. Read on for the pros, cons and many perspectives.

Super Bowl Dips for the Big Game

From savory to sweet, these Super Bowl dips will satisfy any craving your guests might have. Try one of these recipes, which are fast (and easy!) to make for the main event.

Holi Guide for Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor Families

The Hindu Festival of Colors happens on March 8. Enjoy this celebration of spring at home with these fun ideas.



- Advertisement -