School Facility Dogs
Homewood City Schools partnered with Service Dogs Alabama (SDA) to provide an additional resource for elementary students’ academic and behavioral successes.
Research indicates that dogs can impact student performance by reducing stress and increasing motivation, focus, and task persistence. Even the simple act of petting an animal can lower blood pressure and be life-enhancing.
HCS has received four school facility dogs who are specifically trained to work with multiple people and intervention tasks. These particular dogs are chosen for such training because their personalities are confident enough to work off-leash without direction. They are trustworthy in professional environments as they are able to act independently of their handler to seek out students/people who need them.
Students and others experience the unconditional love, attention, and acceptance offered by trained school facility dogs. A facility dog is an additional resource in the building that engages students to help build healthy attachments, increase verbal interactions, develop leisure/recreation skills, boost self-esteem, decrease anxieties, reduce loneliness, and improve attention skills. Teachers can sign up to have one of the dogs come to their classroom to listen to students read or present projects, provide comfort, interact with the kids, or more often than not, just be present in the room.
Homewood’s school facility dogs live with school employees/handlers and are family pets outside of their school working hours. HCS employees/handlers participate in ongoing training and behavioral work as part of the requirements of receiving a dog from SDA. HCS school facility dogs are considered employees of the school system. Having a facility dog on the faculty encourages feelings of calm and security and can be a mood changer for all!
Service Dogs Alabama is the oldest and largest non-profit organization in Alabama and has placed dogs with qualified individuals/facilities throughout the State of Alabama. To learn more about Service Dogs Alabama and school facility dogs, please visit the SDA website.
About Homewood’s School Facility Dogs:
Edgewood Elementary School - Foxie
Foxie is Homewood’s newest school facility dog. She joined the Edgewood school family in May 2021 as a 3-year-old labrador retriever. Foxie’s handler is the school’s librarian, Fran Woodruff. Foxie loves children, belly rubs, listening to stories about dogs (but not about cats), and smelling everything! Be sure to check out Foxie on Instagram! @edgewoodfoxie
Hall-Kent Elementary School - Maize
Maize is Homewood’s first school facility dog. She came to Hall-Kent Elementary School in November 2018 and is a flat coat retriever mix. Her handler is HCS Director of Student Services, Kiana Coleman. While at school, Maize can be found visiting classrooms, reading with friends, or enjoying outside recess.
Shades Cahaba Elementary School - Delta and Russell
In January 2019, Russell joined the Shades Cahaba family. He is a labrador retriever, and his handler is Dr. John Lowry, HCS Director of Academic Programs and Services (former Shades Cahaba Principal). Russell loves one on one time with students. He’s happiest when he can sit on the carpet and hear a good story read by a student or curl up and have someone pet him. Russell’s hobbies include exercising and watching his food bowl.
Delta joined Shades Cahaba in April 2019, her handler is Shades Cahaba’s Principal, Dr. Wendy Story. Delta is Homewood’s only goldendoodle, and she loves being in the classrooms with the students. Her favorite things to do is snuggle or read with friends. She can also be found on her favorite bean bag chewing on bones and treats.