By Lauren Clark
Motivation and support come in many forms, including a cold nose and a warm heart.
Kyrene de la Esperanza Elementary School welcomed its newest staff member, Bolt, a Labrador/golden retriever mix that will assist handler and principal Dr. Cheryl Greene and resource teacher Janet Moeur in their work with students.
Such relationships have blossomed since 1975, when Canine Companions for Independence began breeding, raising and dedicatedly training assistance dogs in over 40 commands designed to assist people or to motivate and inspire those with special needs.
Bolt can pull toy wagons, push drawers closed and retrieve all kinds of items. He has specific commands that allow him to interact with students in what those who have seen him at work describe as a calm and appropriate way.
Greene, Moeur and other school staff say they’re delighted to welcome Bolt to the Esperanza campus. Greene says she’s confident that Bolt’s abilities and presence on campus will make a positive impact in the educational experiences of Esperanza students.
For more than 40 years, Canine Companions has been enhancing the lives of people with disabilities by training and placing more than 5,000 assistance dogs with program graduates, including more than 140 with military veterans and 1,500 with children.
The estimated cost of a highly trained Canine Companions dog like Bolt, and all follow-up support, is $50,000, according to Greene.
However, each facility dog is provided at no cost. Canine Companions depends on the support of donors and volunteers to match each facility with an assistance dog like Bolt at no charge.