The halls of Roosevelt Creative Corridor Business Academy have one exceptionally friendly face—or snout, that is.
Eco—pronounced like “echo”—is a professional therapy/assistance dog and greets students each morning. Dr. Lisa Coyle, a counselor at Roosevelt, has been her handler since September 2020.
“I went down [to Kansas] and they trained me for a week with the commands,” explains Dr. Coyle. “Eco comes to work with me every day, and she lives in my house.”
Eco received her professional therapy/assistance dog training through Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services (CARES) in Concordia, Kansas. The specialized training is rigorous and focuses on socializing the dogs to work with people using a loving and gentle demeanor.
This specialization perfectly complements Dr. Coyle’s role at Roosevelt.
“If there’s a student that needs to come to the office, or they need a break from the classroom, I go and take Eco a lot of times because they’d rather go with Eco than any other adult in the building including myself,” says Dr. Coyle. “She’s very convincing and very unconditional; she’s just there for them all the time.”
Eco’s presence has been especially beneficial for students during the pandemic.
“Kids like to talk, and a good topic of conversation is pets,” explains Dr. Coyle. “It’s a good topic to open up conversation with adults and she’s a constant; she’s always here.”
Not only did students benefit from Eco’s presence, but so did staff members.
“I was amazed last year during Covid times how many teachers came to seek her out to just sit and have some love and assurance that they are good and accepted, and it continues this year,” says Dr. Coyle. “They love her as much as the kids do, or more!”
Eco’s typical day varies as she may be found in the hallway or a classroom, or with individual students.
“She does go to lunch duty with me, and that can be a challenge because there are crumbs on the floor,” says Dr. Coyle. “Invariably, students want to get done with their lunch quickly so they can sit with Eco. [She] just brings a peace and a calm.”
“She’s just very loyal, and she’s just always there,” adds Aliyah, a Roosevelt seventh grader. “If you’re in a bad mood she’s always there to cheer you up.”
There are five professional therapy/assistance dogs in Cedar Rapids Community School District. View photos of them all in action here.