This school year, Bloomfield Hills Schools received new therapy dogs, who have been serving the Lone Pine and West Hills School communities for most of the year. More recently, therapy dogs have joined Bloomfield Hills Middle and East Hills Middle Schools. The value of the therapy dog program extends beyond the single school communities in which they’re placed; a collaboration with the PREP program is one example.
PREP student Aman Mehta and Intervenor Brenda Bujold visit Lone Pine and West Hills a total of four days a week to interact with and learn from therapy dogs. Lone Pine Principal Mary Hillberry shares, “We have enjoyed the partnership with PREP that has resulted from the therapy dog program. Aman and Brenda have truly become a part of our Lone Pine school community, engaging not only with Paul the therapy dog, but also with staff and students, offering all of us an opportunity to benefit from this partnership.”
Bujold explains, “Aman has CHARGE syndrome, which affects his hearing and his vision. He’s almost totally blind and is severely hard of hearing. We’ve worked together for eight years. We’ve had some other jobs in the community, but when we heard about this we were very interested. We work with Paul here at Lone Pine on Tuesday and Friday, and visit West Hills on Monday and Thursday to work with Ollie and Douglas.”
Mehta shares that they began working with Paul at Lone Pine on November 8, adding up to six months of visits. The PREP program is dedicated to helping students transition from high school to adult life and serves young adults ages 18 - 26 who have developmental and physical disabilities. PREP students work on independent living, how to get a job, and extended education. Working with therapy dogs, Mehta develops the skills of feeding, taking the dog for walks outside, brushing the dog, taking the leash and attaching it to the collar, giving the dog treats, getting used to dog behaviors like sniffing and licking, and learning the skill of being patient.
Prior to a recent Lone Pine visit, Mehta and Bujold created a ball made of 32 circles of fabric that can hold treats in its folds. The creation of toys like this is an example of activities and projects that are engaging and educational for PREP students and can also enhance the life of BHS therapy dogs. The collaboration of PREP and our BHS therapy dogs is just one of the many exciting benefits of therapy dogs in Bloomfield Hills Schools. To support the BHS therapy dog programming, please donate here.