Dogs provide comfort for students at this Montana school

Posted at 2:33 PM, Apr 11, 2024

HELENA — When students at Radley Elementary School are having a "ruff" time, they can visit two of the school's hardest workers with four legs.

"He's magical," said Jace Bullen, a 3rd-grade student at Radley.

Governor was brought to the school in 2016 by Vashti Teders, a special education teacher.

Teders said, "The big goal for those dogs is to regulate [the students] brain state. We want them in what we call the green brain state where they can work through problems."


After talking with various experts, Teder said that the dogs needed to be pure breeds with a lineage of therapy and service and have a soft temperament.

Bullen has autism, which Teder says the dogs can help with.

June going for a walk

The dogs can also benefit students with seizure disorders, trauma, and anxiety.

Madison King-Schedel, a 4th-grade student, said, "She kind of brings my stress level down, and it's nice to just be with her, pet her, and snuggle with her."

The dogs are also a motivator for students to go to school.

June laying down

"I was like, 'I don't want to go to school,' but it gave me a reason...[to be] excited for this...because we have dogs here that can help, and it's fun to have them," King-Schedel.

Another third grade teacher, Jennifer Scoles, brought June to Radley last year.

June is still in training but attends school every day that she can.


Scoles said, "She figured out she could do it. She could be here and deal with sounds and all of those things, so it's a treat."

Teder and Scoles pay for the dogs' needs, such as food, vet visits, grooming, and training.

Since the dogs mainly work with students who have mental disabilities, they have been trained to deal with things being thrown and not bite when a student is upset.

June laying by student

So far, there have been no problems with the students or the dogs being harmed.

Both teachers plan to continue the program, even after June and Governor retire.