Roncalli High School welcomed its first facility dog in August. He is being called the newest vice president of happiness, Kass is a 2-year-old black lab from ICAN, Indiana Canine Assistance Network. Kass had to complete extensive training throughout his young life that included a temperament test, formal obedience and service work, and multiple public access tests in order to earn the certification of facility dog.
Facility dogs are similar to therapy dogs. But unlike therapy dogs, who only work occasionally as they are taken a few hours at a time to a hospital or other institution, facility dogs generally “work” full-time at the facility. Facility dogs do not have public access rights as outlined by the ADA but can work inside a particular facility when the administration of the facility has approved of the presence of the dog.
While at school all day, Kass spends most of his time in the guidance department with his handler, Lisa Beckwith. She manages his leash and his location most of the time. The other counselors, school social workers and some STARS teachers will also be his “handler” on occasion. Kass attends class each day with the Life Academy students listening while they read to him or working with them while they practice life skills.
Lisa Beckwith (class of 2001), director of guidance and school counselor, said, “Already in his short time at Roncalli, Kass has made such an impact on our day-to-day operations. Students love seeing Kass in the halls, lunchroom and classrooms. It’s been remarkable to see students’ faces turn to bright smiles as soon as they see him each day. Kass has been a true testament to how animals, especially dogs, can positively improve our mental health.”
In his free time, Kass lives with the Beckwiths where he gets to be a regular 2-year-old pup with his dog brother, Cypher. He enjoys long walks, playing tug, sniffing and finding leftover snacks on the kitchen floor.