CLARKSVILLE — Mondays are special for students at Clinton-Massie Elementary School. It’s the day Goose, an eight-year-old black Labrador Retriever, and his pet partner Kim Hamlin visit and lend a hand to children in need.
Goose and Hamlin work with the Delta Society and are certified members of “Therapy Pets of Greater Cincinnati” (TPGC), an organization that provides pet therapy services and testing—an affiliate of the national organization, “Pet Partners.”
Hamblin works in conjunction with the school’s guidance counselor, Jennifer Horner, to coordinate schedules that allow students to spend time with Goose and benefit from his unique form of therapy that is known to lift spirits and lower stress and anxiety; increase positive social behaviors—especially among children with special needs—while also increasing motivation and optimism; and influencing children’s health and happiness.
“Mondays couldn’t be a more perfect opportunity to visit the students and staff at Clinton-Massie Elementary School,” says Hamlin. “Beginning the week with Goose’s presence is always welcomed by both.”
Students are always delighted by Goose’s arrival. Whether it is in passing on the sidewalk, in the hallway, or in the classroom, Goose and Hamlin are received warmly, but without distraction, especially in the areas where he is most often seen.
As Goose wanders about the classroom, students go about their work, and while they do take a moment to pet, touch, hug, and love him, they continue to complete their tasks.
According to Hamlin, the bond between humans and animals is mutually beneficial, positively influencing the health and well-being of both. As such, Goose has also been involved in diffusing stressful situations while improving children’s interactions.
Goose has been Hamlin’s partner his entire life and has worked with the therapy dog Pet Partners program since 2012. They participate in ongoing training which Hamlin compares to raising a child, “We want to teach them positive skills while minimizing poor behaviors in order to maximize success.”
Goose and Hamlin train with TPGC and renew their required certification every two years. Renewal consists of on-site skills testing at Bethesda North Hospital where dog and handler are put through a series of situations, testing both the dog’s reaction and handler’s response to specific situations.
Goose and Hamlin have been certified three times, all of which have been a qualification rating of “complex” which means they have no restrictions on types of environments, clients, or interactions for visiting.
Information for this article was provided by Diana Miller, who coordinates communications for several area schools.