SWBOCES at Pocantico Students Meet Therapy Dog

Duke the Therapy Dog

SWBOCES Students Meet Duke, Pocantico Hills School's Therapy Dog

Students in the Southern Westchester BOCES program at Pocantico Hills School recently met Duke, a 7-year-old American Staffordshire terrier mix who is the school’s new therapeutic support dog.

Mario Suarez, Therapeutic Support Center teacher at Pocantico Hills School, and Duke, his pet, started making the rounds of classrooms on Feb. 10. Children are learning some of the rules around having a dog in school, such as do not pet him when he is wearing his red “do not pet” bandanna, pet him on the back or chest, and respect his personal space. They found out he loves to eat Cheerios and have his belly rubbed, and that he has a younger and smaller “brother” named Tank.

Research has found that therapy dogs in schools can lower students’ anxiety, stress and negative feelings. The dogs also help boost their energy, wellness and academic achievement.