Therapy dog brings comfort to students at Grand Ledge High School

Trained friends help children cope in Grand Ledge
Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 7:40 PM EDT
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GRAND LEDGE, Mich. (WILX) - With the pandemic, the war and the everyday struggles of life, coping through uncertain times can be challenging.

That’s especially true for high school students. That’s why students in Grand Ledge have a trained friend to help get them through difficult days.

Isolation, disruption and loss caused the American Academy of Pediatrics to declare a national emergency in youth mental health. Some schools responded by hiring social workers, but Grand Ledge High School hired a dog.

Related: Grant allows Michigan schools to invest in students’ mental and physical health

Mariah Mosher is a senior. She said she deals with anxiety and starting a new school was scary, but Gravy was there for her.

“She brings a lot of comfort,” Mosher said. “She was one of the first facility members that I interacted with when I moved here. This is my first year here and I came from a really small school.”

Mosher said Gravy brought comfort to her when she struggled to transition.

“She’s a really big joy to see when you’re walking down the hall to your classes,” Mosher said. “Or if you’re having a bad day, you can sit down with her for a couple minutes.”

Being able to take a moment to sit with Gravy can make a big difference.

Ryan Boylan, a sophomore, said he thinks of Gravy as family.

“Having Gravy around is like having a slice of home at your school,” Boylan said. “It didn’t hit me until the longest time. I watched all these people deal with their emotions and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m glad that’s not me,’ until it was me and I was like, ‘Why?’ It came out of nowhere and it came super fast.”

Gravy has helped Boylan get through the school day because when she’s around, there’s always someone to talk to.

Maria Capra, the dean of students, said the pandemic is what made them look into ways to help students deal with their emotions and Gravy does just that.

“She brings a smile to them. They will get down on the ground and pet her,” Capra said. “They will talk to her. I’ve had students tell me she’s the best part of their day.”

She said that was the goal when they hired Gravy as the school’s therapy dog.

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