Teachers and therapy dogs bring comfort to Chester County

CHESTER SPRINGS, Pennsylvania (WPVI) – John DeSantis is a high school teacher at Bishop Shanahan High School in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. And when he fails to solve the equations, he is becoming part of the solution to anxiety of all ages.

The Rough-Collie lover has always wanted to elevate his pet to a position where it can serve the community. But DeSantis knows a special dog with the right temperament and willingness to train is needed for the job.

Then he meets Ingrid.

“I married her about two and a half years ago,” he said. “The previous owner couldn’t afford to keep her. She needed two different procedures.”

DeSantis adopted Ingrid and spent four months catching up with the puppy to improve her health.

“I thought, in a way, I wanted to get her,” he said.

Beginning in late 2019, DeSantis enrolled Ingrid for therapy dog ​​training. All was going well until the COVID-19 pandemic halted their efforts for several months. After passing a certification test and completing five different levels of conduct classes, Ingrid is ready to meet her community.

DeSantis and Ingrid can be found visiting schools in the area from preschool to college. They also regularly make trips to Camilla Hall, home of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and many other high-end centers. They also appear and greet shoppers at the Lobby and Citadel Bank.

“We go out and do these visits for free,” says DeSantis. “I don’t charge. I don’t ask for any money. I don’t accept donations.”

DeSantis says the goal is to share her dog’s warmth for comfort for people of all ages. Action News was there when he visited Saint Matthew’s Preschool and Kindergarten in Chester Springs.

“With the pandemic, there are many types of anxious behavior that are being seen,” he said. “So therapy visits for dogs are good because they break up feelings of boredom and it helps them socialize.”

Margie Miller’s kindergarten class is buzzing every time Ingrid comes to say hello.

“Especially with where we are now during the pandemic and the rules we have to uphold, I think it helps to alternate things like breaks and surprises like Ingrid,” Miller said. “And then they can go back to the learning part of our day and have a little more energy for it.”

And in the short term, both DeSantis and Ingrid have enough energy to continue touring around Chester County.

“It’s amazing the impact it has on people,” he said. “And as long as she’s healthy and she enjoys this, we’re going to keep doing this.”

Philly Proud is powered by Pick NRG.

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