One of Warren’s favorite staff members, Lainey, came to Warren last school year, with the purpose of providing emotional support for students undergoing difficult emotional situations, and with the COVID-19 school year, she is needed now more than ever for students and teachers alike.
Lainey spends her day in the Counseling Service Center with the director of counseling, Bradley Morgan. When the school year started, his first concern was the safety of both the students and Lainey when wanting to interact with each other, so it was asked of each student to put on hand sanitizer before and after petting her, which took a bit of adjusting for Lainey at first.
“Not nearly as many people are interacting with her because there’s not as many people in the building, especially during passing periods,” Morgan said. “There’s not a lot of downtime in class and so there’s not a lot of time for kids to come down, so it really reduced the amount of interactions that Lainey has had.”
At the beginning of the year, there was only about one-third of the students in the building each day, so instead of the long line of students we saw last year waiting to pet Lainey, it is now reduced to about two to three students per class period, which makes it tough on her. As for November however, after the school went on a temporary lockdown, Lainey was getting little to no interaction from anyone other than the counselor, academic coaches, or staff members that come to see her daily.
“Her focus has shifted to more of a support for the staff and their children. Some teachers have told their kids that if they get their virtual school work finished, they can have some time to visit with Lainey. I have also had several staff members tell me that it relieves their stress to be able to visit with Lainey during the day,” Spanish teacher and Lainey’s caretaker Roberta Kuonen said.
While the lessened social interaction affected Lainey, she continued to greatly help and support others in the school. She was more exposed to younger children, which helped with her training, considering she did not have much interest in them before. And she now enjoys playing and running around with the other children. She was also a great support for the teachers. Before, teachers looked at Lainey as a great opportunity for just the students, but during the temporary closure of the school, teachers began to appreciate her more, for she is for everybody.
“I think this time has been good for Lainey also because she has become more used to being around smaller children. One of the reasons she was chosen to be a high school facility dog, was because she didn't really show much interest in little kids when they were testing her to find a place for her. Since she has been with the faculty members' children, she has really enjoyed running and playing with all of the younger kids,” Kuonen said.
While Lainey is learning to like the kiddos a little more, she can not wait to be back with the teenagers.