Return to Headlines

Therapy dog Rue considered important part of Hickory Hill Elementary family

therapy dog sitting with student

On any given day, you may see a Golden Doodle walking down the hallways of Hickory Hill Elementary with her tail wagging next to her owner and school counselor Traci McCormick. 

The dog's name is Rue and she is the school's therapy dog. She started her 2nd year on the job in early September of 2019. Rue works up to four days a week and is considered an important part of the Hickory Hill family.

The dog is highly trained with the following on her resume: Follow-Me K9 training, Dillon's Dog Training, Good Canine Citizenship, and has completed a therapy dog assessment.

"Some of the importance of training is that she is prepared to deal with whatever situation comes," McCormick explained.  

Rue does a lot of different things day-to-day. 

"She's with me all of the time. So anytime I am supporting a classroom or responding to a student in need, running a group, I'm a guidance counselor and I teach a special and she is with me always."

Depending on the specific situation, Rue could be comforting a student, or she could be participating in a skit in guidance class, or supporting students while they practice reading out loud.

"She is a pretty integral part of every day here," she said.

But what if students have allergies or are scared of big dogs? The school has a protocol to follow for both situations.

"If we have a student that may have severe allergies, even though she is a hypoallergenic dog, she still has dander, she is still part of the outside environment," McCormick said.

She explained they work to keep Rue out of common spaces in the school like the library, art room, cafeteria, etc. If a child has a fear for large dogs or dogs in general, the school respects that and Rue will stay away from that child unless the family is wanting to slowly do some work to help them become more comfortable. If that were the case, McCormick and Rue would work with that student in an informal way 

Overall, the response to Rue in the school has been overwhelmingly positive. 

Read the Papillion Times article about Rue here: