Some Stow-Munroe Falls students will have a new four-legged friend at school this coming year.
At the School Board's June 29 meeting, Superintendent Tom Bratten introduced Jax, a nearly 3-year-old golden lab that will be put to work as a therapy dog in district schools.
"He's going to be great for kids, especially our special needs kids," said Bratten. "The research just goes through the roof how much therapy dogs can do for children so we're really excited having him here."
Bratten said Jax will work three days a week. He was initially intended as a police dog, but ended up being repurposed as a therapy dog because he has "a bad nose."
"The way it was explained to me," said Bratten, "he can smell a cheese sandwich, but he couldn't smell marijuana."
Bratten told the Stow Sentry that Stow Police Sgt. Steve Miller arranged for the donation of Jax to the district.
"The only thing we had to pay for was to have him neutered and his shots," said Bratten.
Miller said Jax was initially trained by Dulebohn Dog Training in Wapakoneta, a city in west central Ohio. He then went to Von Der Haus Gill German Shepherds, also in Wapakoneta, which provides training for Stow police dogs, including Ruger, the city's newest K-9. Miller said that when he spoke to Von Der Haus Gill owner Al Gill about Jax and Bratten's desire for a therapy dog, Gill offered to donate Jax.
"Mr. Bratten and I had talked before that he was looking to get a therapy dog he could bring into the schools and he was asking me about it earlier in the year," said Miller. "I was down there and it was brought up about Jax not going to make it [as a police dog] and they were going to try and get him to a good place. He's a real good dog, a real good social dog."
Bratten said Jax lives with him and will be his "traveling companion" when he visits individual school buildings.
"I do a lot of building visits," said Bratten.
He added, "We were so appreciative because therapy dogs can be anywhere between $10,000 and $12,000. To get him donated to us was just a blessing. He'll do great work with some kids."
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