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New therapy dog at Bryant Public Schools brings smiles to students and staff

Bryant Public Schools implemented a new four-legged friend to help make days for students and staff a little less "ruff."

BRYANT, Ark. — We all know that school can be stressful for lots of reasons, and in an effort to help make things a little brighter, Bryant Public Schools made the decision to bring in a new four-legged friend.

Between all the belly rubs, you'll find Archie, the therapy dog, greeting students in the hallways at Bryant Junior High.

Archie has quickly become a "paw-some" friend, as he helps both students and staff one pet at a time. 

"It boosts the overall mood. The smiles on the faces when you see a pet just speaks for itself," Counselor, Traci Long said.

Long explained that in his first two weeks at the school, Archie has already helped several students.

"There was a student upset in the office, the front office, and didn't want to talk because she was angry. And she wouldn't talk to anyone," Long said.

Then, Archie stepped in to help. 

"She ended up lying on the floor with Archie for a long time till she could calm down and not be so angry," Long said.

In his short time at the school, he's already impacted more than just the students. 

"The adults too," Long added.

Archie's owner, Kelly Hay, explained that it took more than a year to get Archie ready for the job. 

"We went through puppy training, obedience training, and community-based training for him to be ready to go," Hay said.

Hay said the timing was just right for him to start this school year. 

"Everything just coincided, he finished his training the same month that Bryant allowed dogs in," Hay said.

The school district said that they have big plans for Archie.

Some of his job duties include reading with students and assisting with small-group counseling. 

"The more attention he gets, the happier he is. So you can mob him and he's like, just bring it on," Hay said.

Oakley Escobar, a freshman at the school, said that the golden retriever has been a stress reliever. 

"We have quite a few tests like this week and last week. And whenever I see him, it just kind of gives me like a mental break. And just to like, relax and get my mind off that," Escobar added.

"You get the right dog in the right place and you will see amazing changes," Hay said.

Hay also said that Archie could have a furry partner soon—  as one of Bryant's elementary schools is in the process of training its own therapy dog. 

In order to have a therapy dog in Bryant schools, the handler must be employed by the district.

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