Holtville Middle School in Alabama is like any other middle school. Students come in every morning and learn things like English, math, and science. But Holtville has two furry additions to their faculty which most other middle schools don’t have. On the first day of school, students are greeted by Captain and Mason, two service dogs provided by the program at Service Dogs Alabama.
“On the first day of school they were so excited to see everybody. And they would just run around, back and forth, trying to greet everybody.”
-Clayton, student at Holtville Middle School
Captain and Mason have been with Holtville Middle School for about four years now. They were trained to help students who are having a hard time, and they’ll go from classroom to classroom to find students who they sense need some encouragement. They can sense stress, and they will do everything in their power to help with it.
“Children have tried to push them away, but they’re pretty adamant. And by the end of the class period, the dog has his head on your lap and the student is petting him.”
-Kelli, teacher and Mason’s handler
The dogs make their students feel more comfortable. Many of them have said they feel like they’re at home when Captain or Mason come into the room. The students are more at ease, and can concentrate on their work easier. It’s relaxing to see Captain and Mason. The two even make it easier for students to get through tests and their school work.
“You see the dog and you look at your paper and a second later — and you don’t know how — you’re done.”
-Chloe, student at Holtville Middle School
Captain and Mason don’t just make school work easier. They have big impacts on the mood of the classroom. The teachers who see them interact with students every day say that the dogs are able to calm the room. Just the fact that they’re in the building seems to make everything easier. And they’ve had big impacts in the lives of individual students.
“I’ve watched those dogs change children’s lives. That’s amazing in itself, to have an animal come in and literally change someone’s life.”
The connection that Captain and Mason have with the kids at Holtville Middle School is nothing short of incredible. They’ve been able to help so many students, and just by being there and being endlessly supportive. We’re happy to help Service Dogs Alabama train more dogs like them.