Students Experience the Dog-Human Connection

Wantagh Elementary Students Experience the Dog-Human Connection

Fifth graders at Wantagh Elementary School gained insight into the valuable support that canines provide humans during a visit from the Guide Dog Foundation on Oct. 8. On the back blacktop, students met with Tracey McCarthy and Emily Tullo, as well as guide dog ambassador Harper and guide dog-in-training Lola.

Ms. McCarthy and Ms. Tullo discussed the differences between guide dogs and service dogs. Guide dogs help people with visual impairments while service dogs help those with other needs. They noted that many of the service dogs they train are for veterans with PTSD, and know when and how to provide comfort. 

Guide dogs and service dogs are trained using positive reinforcement, in which good behavior is rewarded. They learn house manners and socialization skills. Most of the dogs that are trained are black Labradors, golden retrievers and poodles. 

At the end of the presentation students were able to pet Lola, who is 10 months old, and Harper, 16 months. 

This was the first time the Guide Dog Foundation has visited Wantagh Elementary School and the program was coordinated by teacher Traci Weiss. As gratitude for the presentation, the fifth grade organized a supply collection for the foundation, with students donating cleaning products, dog bones, food, leashes, toys and more.