Tucker the therapy dog offers support for Horizons HS students

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MOHAWK, Mich. (WJMN) – The Calumet, Laurium, and Keweenaw (CLK) school district has added another therapy dog to their schools, making the district the first in the U.P. with therapy dogs.

Tucker and Bleau are both doodle-mixes. Bleu is the newest addition and is apart of the district’s Trauma-Informed School grant from Portage Health Foundation. The grant helps support students struggling with mental and behavioral health issues.

Bleau spends the majority of his days at Washington Middle School in Calumet. As for Tucker, his story isn’t particularly ordinary. Unlike Bleau, Tucker wasn’t meant to be a therapy dog at all. Horizons Alternative High School Principal Joel Asiala got Tucker as a family dog, but a friend who works at Asprius Keweenaw thought Tucker would be a great therapy dog in the hospital.

So, that’s exactly what Tucker does. He spends his weekdays at Horizons and his weekends at Aspirus Keweenaw. During exam week at Michigan Technological University, Tucker will visit the students as well.

Now that’s one busy pup!

Tucker receiving belly scratches from a student.

“When someone is down, depressed, having a bad day, or even crying, it’s pretty amazing to see,” said Asiala. “He’ll seek that person out and sit with them. He puts his head right on their lap, you can ignore him. Once the kids start petting him that behavior or stress seems to melt away.”

Darren Kinnunen, a school social worker for CLK, said a few years ago he was teaching a social-emotional class to fourth-graders and one student was visibly struggling…until Tucker came in.

“Within thirty seconds, [Tucker] found that student without any prompting. He ran over and sat with that student, and about twenty seconds later his demeanor changed. He was smiling, he was happy. At the same time, he was petting Tucker and paying attention to the lesson,” said Kinnunen.

It seems Tucker, and Bleau, have truly captured the hearts of those who meet them.

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