Montreal

Therapy dogs find furever jobs in 2 Laval schools

Hope and Wall-E are helping ease stress for students, and teachers, at Laval schools.

Hope, Wall-E take positions with the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School board

Student Naim Rodrigues cuddles Hope, a soothing presence at his school. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

Students at Crestview Elementary School in Laval are seeing a new face in its halls — a very good girl name Hope.

The Labrador received 18 months of training from the Asista Foundation to help children cope with mental health conditions.

Student Naim Rodrigues, 10, is anxious and prone to outbursts and said Hope helps him stay calm.

"I have anxiety and she helped me by lying down and giving me kisses," Rodrigues said.

It's that help which has prompted the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School board to launch a Facility Service Dog Program in two of its schools.

Another dog, Wall-E, is doing his part at Laval Junior Academy.

The dogs aren't partnered with specific kids, but roam the halls and go to certain classrooms to provide help and support.

The Labradors received 18 months of training from the Asista Foundation to help children cope with mental health conditions. 0:50

Handler Michelina Scala said the dogs make a difference to the whole school — the teachers, administration and the kids.

"[A child] may be crying under their arms and then they'll peek out to see if she's coming to see them. She makes everyone feel great," Scala said.

According to Service Dogs Canada, thousands of Canadians rely on service animals to assist them in their daily lives.

Most dogs help people with physical disabilities, but more and more people are turning to them for psychological help.

"She can actually sense when people are stressed," Naim said.

"She helps a lot of people by staying next to them. She's calm."

With files from Sarah Leavitt

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