A heartwarming chapter unfolded at Lincoln Jr. High Thursday as Penny, the cherished therapy dog, embarked on her first day of school. The credit for bringing this endearing Bernedoodle—a delightful blend of Bernese Mountain Dog and Poodle—goes to Applied Skills Teacher Samantha Vanlue. Earlier this year, Samantha welcomed Penny into the school community, a choice that was rooted in the desire to provide students with an invaluable source of comfort and companionship. This heartening tale mirrors the journey of Plymouth High School, which received therapy dog Rocky from the same generous source, Julie at Emerald Oak Acres and Doodles, in March 2022.

The decision to bring Penny to Lincoln Jr. High is a testament to the dedication and commitment of both staff and the community. During the summer preceding Penny’s debut, Sam Vanlue and Lincoln Jr. High Principal Reid Gault embarked on a mission to seek sponsorship for the new furry addition. Their efforts bore fruit as Plymouth Veterinary Clinic stepped forward to offer comprehensive lifelong services and grooming for Penny. The clinic’s gesture not only ensured Penny’s health and well-being but also symbolized a profound understanding of the importance of therapy dogs in educational settings.

Plymouth Veterinary Clinic wasn’t the only entity to embrace Penny’s arrival with open arms. The school was able to open an account with Smith Farm Store, facilitated by Kim Brenneman, who served as PTO president for five years, demonstrating the collective determination to provide for Penny’s needs.

Therapy dogs have long been recognized for their positive impact on students’ emotional well-being. Their presence in educational institutions like Lincoln Jr. High creates a calming and nonjudgmental environment, promoting stress reduction and improved focus among students. Penny’s interactions with students offer a unique opportunity for them to develop empathy, compassion, and social skills, further enriching their educational experience.

Penny’s first day of school at Lincoln Jr. High symbolizes more than just an adorable addition to the campus. It represents a collaborative effort between educators, the community, and local businesses, including the contributions of Julie at Emerald Oak Acres and Doodles, to create an inclusive and supportive environment for all students. Penny’s warm and gentle presence is a reminder of the power of therapy dogs to foster emotional well-being and enrich the lives of those around them. As Penny continues her journey as a therapy dog, her pawprints on the hearts of the students and staff at Lincoln Jr. High are sure to leave a lasting, positive impact.

Pictured is Sam Vanlue and Penny.

Sam Vanlue’s class and Penny.

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