ST MARYS — St. Marys Area School District Superintendent Brian Toth is undergoing training with a Goldendoodle named Brooklyn who will help bring calming smiles to the lives of students, he says.
Toth recently created a “GoFundMe” page, requesting support to fund the cost of Brooklyn and her training. He contacted “New Hope Assistance Dogs,” a charitable training organization, he said, and has begun the process with Brookyln, who lives with him and his family.
So far, the page has raised $715 of its $5,000 goal.
“I interact with students who are victims of stress, anxiety and trauma. I want to make a difference in their emotional lives,” Toth said.
At the January SMASD board meeting, Toth reported one puppy out of a litter of Goldendoodles was being reserved to serve the district as a therapy dog.
When it came to taking Brooklyn in himself, Toth says his family lost their last dog about three years ago.
“We knew another dog was in our future,” he said.
At the school leadership conference in 2019, Toth met “Centennial Jake,” a therapy dog in the Centennial School District.
“I decided that our next dog would be a therapy dog to bring to school and help to reduce stress and anxiety for students,” he said. “I thought this would be a unique role for a superintendent, so I took the lead.”
Brooklyn has been introduced to three of Toth’s grandchildren, and she loved their attention, he says.
“She was very gentle with them,” he said. “Brooklyn likes to be held and hugged. She loves to play fetch. She’s a snuggler and cuddler.”
Toth posted photos and videos on the GoFundMe page, including one of her playing fetch and enjoying the snow.
“My intent is once she is fully trained to bring her to school, visit students experiencing anxiety and stress and hopefully bring a calming smile to their lives,” Toth says on the GoFundMe page. “I cannot change the home lives of students, but I can change how their lives at school can be made better.”
Visit www.gofundme.com/f/support-therapy-animals-in-schools to donate or find out more.