Home Diocese Therapy Dog Brings Joy, Stress Relief to Students at Catholic School

Therapy Dog Brings Joy, Stress Relief to Students at Catholic School

Students greet Bo, the therapy dog, January 10 at Saint James/Seton School in Omaha. As a therapy dog, he brings joy and stress relief to students every Wednesday. (CNS photo/Mike May, Catholic Voice)

By Mike May
Catholic News Service

OMAHA, Neb. – Every Wednesday morning, Bo roams the halls at Saint James-Seton School in Omaha. He’s a golden retriever/labrador mix eager to offer a friendly greeting.
As a trained therapy dog, Bo helps students de-stress before and after school, and between classes, by providing unconditional love and comfort as they pet and hug him.
His owner, Suzi Richardson, the school’s director of student services, began bringing her 7-year-old dog to school in October to greet students at the beginning of the day, walk the halls between classes or rest in her office, ready for any students who need some “Bo time.”

One student who especially benefited from Bo’s special brand of love is Sydney Gatzemeyer, a kindergartner being treated for brain cancer.
Currently in remission, Sydney required frequent trips to the school nurse’s office for temperature checks or when not feeling well, which upset her, said her mother, Sarah Gatzemeyer.

“She’s calmer when Bo is there, and she always talks about it when she gets home,” Sarah told the Catholic Voice, newspaper. “She tells me, ‘Bo likes to cuddle with me when I don’t feel good.’”

“I think it’s great for the kids,” Sarah said. “Dogs just have that sense of when someone doesn’t feel good. Sometimes that’s all a child needs is someone to make them comfortable.”