Dooley the Therapy Dog
Dooley the therapy dog joined Sycamore Community School District 427 for his first day on Monday, September 26, 2022. Since then, Dooley and School Resource Officer (SRO) Kaitlyn Pedersen have worked to foster a safe and positive learning environment for all.
Dooley, a one-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer, is part of the Sycamore Police Department’s (SPD) new therapy dog program to provide mental health and behavioral support within our schools and the community. The goal of this program is to assist individuals during difficult times and manage their stressors.
“We have supported the therapy program since the SPD first proposed it to us, and we are excited for the work Dooley will do for our students, staff, and community,” said Superintendent Steve Wilder.
Petting a dog releases “happy hormones” or serotonin that allows for a person’s mood to increase and reduce tension. When people interact with dogs, they experience both physical and mental benefits. “A therapy dog is a resource that can bring joy, and that is really Dooley’s main role — to assist in everyday encounters to alleviate stress,” said Pedersen.
Although SRO Pedersen is based at Sycamore Middle School, she and Dooley are available to assist students and staff throughout the district and members of the community.
In addition, the team will sometimes visit classrooms to give presentations. SRO Pedersen is aware that some individuals may be allergic or weary of dogs in general. “Before visiting any classroom, we will always check that no one is allergic; and if someone would like to pet Dooley, we will ask them to approach Dooley rather than Dooley approaching them,” explained Pedersen. And SRO Pedersen will always be available to assist students and staff without Dooley, if desired.
We are excited to have Dooley in our schools and community. “Students and staff are always welcome to visit Dooley in my office or stop to say hello when we’re walking around,” said Pedersen. If you see the team, be sure to say “hi!”