Therapy dog named Owen is the secret to success for Clovis Unified

CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) -- A therapy dog is taking on new clients at an elementary school in the Clovis Unified School District.

Owen is a well-loved playmate at Temperance-Kutner Elementary School. He plays basketball, fetch and even helps usher students into the classroom from recess. He's not a visitor, but a Clovis Unified School District employee -- complete with his own ID Badge.

"I trained him to become a therapy dog and he had a very good temperament," said fifth grade teacher Claire Steinbronn. "He's very good with people because he doesn't believe he's a dog. He actually believes he's a person."

Owen is a therapy dog who spends most of his time in a fifth grade classroom at Temperance-Kutner. Students sit with him while they read, and read to him.

Steinbronn first starting bringing Owen to class -- realizing he had a profound positive affect on her students. If they were having a tough day or a difficult time in class, Owen would come to their side for comfort and support.

"The cool thing about dogs is that there's no judgement and so no matter what their reading level is, how they're doing in school, what their home life is like, they can just come here and pet him and forget about anything because he's not judging them," explained Steinbronn.

Ella Boston finds a lot of support in Owen while taking a test.

"I don't feel like I get it sometimes," said Boston. "And then Ms. Steinbronn tells him to come over to me so I can pet him so I feel better and I get through the test."

Jacob Rawe added, "He makes me want to come to class because every time I'm done with all my work I can sit and read to him."

Steinbronn says Owen doesn't just help students in her class. Sometimes he visits struggling students in nearby classes or if a student needs comfort from a difficult situation, he or she comes to the class and sits with Owen.

Principal Randy Hein said, "This friendly soft fuzzy happy looking creature can help and transition a child for us in ways that might take me weeks or months to do."

Owen has become such a success here that now Clovis Unified is looking into implementing therapy dogs at all elementary schools.

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