By Hailey Le Roy
Nelson Elementary has acquired a therapy dog to be integrated inside its classrooms.
Odd Job, a mixed black lab, has visited the school occasionally for the past seven years, said the owner of the dog and physical education teacher at Nelson, Leslie Wheeler. She has been teaching at Nelson since 2005 and would bring Odd Job in during teacher workdays ever since she got him.
“Who doesn’t want to have their dog at school with them?” said Wheeler.
Last year, Wheeler decided to train Odd Job to be a therapy dog so that he could regularly work with students at the school. According to Wheeler, Odd Job got was very cooperative during his therapy training and got it done in four weeks. He did everything the trainer asked him to do. Then, with the help of Nelson’s principal and guidance counselors, he was approved to visit during school hours.
In the past school year, Odd Job was used only on Fridays and strictly to reward students’ good behavior and academics. The kids could either read to Odd Job, take him out for a walk or just relax and enjoy petting him.
“He has always loved children and has a great disposition and I didn’t want that to go to waste,” said Wheeler.
Next year, the school is hoping to add onto Odd Job’s purpose. It would like to incorporate him even more inside the classroom setting as well as rewarding students. He will be visiting the students daily. A blanket permission slip will be sent out across the school to allow interaction with Odd Job.
Odd Job has not had the easiest life. He had two surgeries on his back legs and two anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears. However, he has mostly recovered and is continuing to positively impact the community.
“Just to sit and pet a dog totally reduces your stress level,” Everyone, including the teachers, has used Odd Job to calm down after a rough day. “He’s had an effect on everybody in this school.”
In addition, Wheeler would like to start bringing Odd Job into assisted living homes so he can continue to help others inside and outside of school.