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Lucy the Therapy Dynamo: Transforming Schools One Wag at a Time

In the heart of Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), a loving mini-golden doodle named Lucy, weighing in at a mere 30 pounds, has become the unexpected yet indispensable secret weapon in social worker Chris Schlosser’s mission to infuse joy and comfort into the educational landscape. 

Working at Benjamin Harrison School Center for Inquiry School 2, this dynamic duo leaves an indelible paw print on the hearts of students and staff alike.

What sets Lucy apart is her intuitive nature—she goes from child to child, seeking out those who may need a bit of soothing. Her keen ability to sense emotions and connect with those in need is nothing short of awe-inspiring, creating an instant rapport and positively transforming students’ demeanor.

“Lucy should get half my pay,” Schlosser said. “Part of my job is developing a rapport with the kids. Lucy creates an amazing environment. In most cases, it takes weeks for me to build that, but with Lucy there – if the student likes dogs – it can be just seconds.

“The turnaround in a student’s whole demeanor can change instantly,” he said. “Kids that don’t like to read volunteer to read books to Lucy. She can help them become better students by simply being there.”

The impact of therapy dogs in schools, especially those like Lucy, is profound. Lucy’s presence serves as a stress reliever, alleviating anxiety among students navigating the pressures of academic life. 

Lucy’s journey as a therapy dog began when she entered Schlosser’s life as a pandemic puppy, gifted by his children on his birthday during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Little did he anticipate that Lucy’s boundless enthusiasm and affection would evolve into a powerful force for good within the school community. 

The magic commenced during leisurely walks on the IU Cancer Center campus, where Lucy’s magnetic charm attracted people from all walks of life. Schlosser witnessed her uncanny ability to break down barriers and bring smiles to faces, irrespective of age.

“We just go for walks and people would immediately come up to her,” Schlosser said. “I was on a break from working at IPS and would take her to my office, and I saw immediately how she likes people and they love her.”

As Lucy seamlessly transitioned from Schlosser’s real estate brokerage business to Benjamin Harrison School 2, she acclimated to the bustling office environment and emerged as a beloved fixture. 

“I planned just to get her certified as a therapy dog and take her to nursing homes and other places,” he said. “But, when the opportunity came to return to IPS, I knew she would play a major role in helping kids.”

During her regular visits to the school, Lucy weaves her way through the classrooms, fostering social skills and preventing feelings of isolation. The positive atmosphere Lucy contributes to has a ripple effect, creating a supportive and inclusive environment for everyone in the school community.

“The extra support of a licensed therapy dog in schools can add positively to the culture of a school building fast,” said Dr. Lori Hart, the district’s K-8 elementary and middle school counseling coordinator. “An added advantage is teaching students responsibility and empathy as the physical and emotional needs of the therapy dog need to be met during the day.”

Lucy, with her wagging tail and infectious spirit, is not just a therapy dog—she’s a catalyst for joy, connection, and a “pawsitively” impactful educational experience