Joy was in the air as West Hills students celebrated the upcoming winter break with a visit from Fur Angels therapy dogs, coinciding with a Pajama Day! Situated in the Media Center during lunch periods, students were encouraged to get some comfort from four certified therapy dogs. Students and staff alike thoroughly enjoyed the visits. Eva VanBolden (grade 7) shares, “It helps you calm down, and you get a nice cuddly buddy to hang out with!”
West Hills staff member Kristen Vigier helped to set up the visit, along with Associate Principal Melissa Palmeri. Vigier’s own dog, a Goldendoodle named Zoey, is a Fur Angel and was present to provide some therapy. While West Hills has a therapy dog on-site in Labrador Retriever Ollie, this visit was set up because Ollie cannot be everywhere all the time. Therapy dog programs like Fur Angels provide access and interaction for all West Hills students to enjoy some puppy love.
Steve Calcagno, who brought Piper, a soft-coated Wheaten Terrier, is the director of Fur Angels Pet Therapy Group, with 77 dogs ranging from 3 pounds to 187 pounds in the program. In addition to Zoey and Piper, Bichon Frise Frankie and Labrador Retriever Chuck visited West Hills. Fur Angels visits hospitals, nursing homes, law and medical schools during testing periods, and K-12 schools. They train and certify therapy dogs - all of whom are people’s personal pets - in two 6-week long programs. Fur Angels is planning to visit Bloomfield Hills High School in January, and they are working to schedule future visits at other Bloomfield Hills Schools.