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Support PUPs Guide Students Through Reading

Linda Hagerdorn, English Development Teacher at Springs Ranch, brings in her emotional support dogs, Kona and Ginny, to support her students through Students read to Kona, emotional support dog. a program she created called PUP, Practice Upon a Pooch.  “These animals can lower blood pressure and help the students feel more relaxed” said Hagerdorn of the response her students have when the dogs are present.

 Student reads to Ginny.

Kona, a 2 year old German Shepard, was attentive and patient as Hadassah Chavarria Stewart, a student from Springs Ranch, read a story out loud to her.  Last week, Maddox Hepperle, a 5th grade student at the school, practiced science vocabulary with Kona.  Maddox shared “its just nice to have her here to listen while I practice my words”.  Mrs. Hagerdorn shares her dogs with all students who may have some anxiety when it comes to reading.  All students are welcome to stop by, visit with Kona and Ginny, and use their time for mostly anything educational. 

 Maddox Hepperle reads to Kona.

Last Friday, November 10th, was Kona’s most recent visit to Springs Ranch.  During the visit, Paige Vincent, a 4th grade teacher from Springs Ranch, stopped by to say hello to Kona.  “I have a student who was all smiles today because he knew Kona would be here today.  He stayed on task all day and seemed so much more comfortable in the classroom just knowing he would have time with her later today”, said Vincent of a student who frequently works with both emotional support dogs.

 Israel reads to Kona.

Israel Tovar Stewart, a student from Mrs. Vincent’s classroom, stopped by to say hello to Kona.  “Kona knows Israel. She always remembers people” said Hagedorn of Kona’s excitement of Israel visiting. “Kona listens to me most of the time.. I like to read to her. Sometimes, I just like to play with her”, shared Israel.


Mrs. Hagedorn has seen great strides in her students’ language scores and also a decrease in anxiety in students she does not have in class. “All students want to come in and work with the dogs”, she shared. “Students are good in that they are more relaxed and more focused when they are with Kona and Ginny”.Students play with Kona.

Lauren Stuart