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Dug Digs Sands!

Sands Montessori is taking things quite literally with the phrase “teacher’s pet!” Dug the Dog is Sands' newest, lovable Labrador Retriever and made history as the very first facility dog to join Cincinnati Public Schools. 

Dug the Dog at SandsDug is more than just a bundle of canine cuteness. He's a highly trained professional, here to revolutionize education in CPS. Dug’s arrival to the school came from a partnership between CPS and Circle Tail, a local nonprofit dedicated to empower, educate and inspire communities through the use of service-oriented dogs.

While Dug's impressive repertoire of skills includes the classic canine pastime of sit and stay, his role as a facility dog goes above and beyond. He's been meticulously trained to provide emotional support and comfort to students facing anxiety, stress or emotional challenges. Just a furry nuzzle or a warm cuddle from Dug can work wonders in melting away classroom tension and creating a more inclusive learning atmosphere. 

“You can request to see Dug on a weekly basis and I'm one of those students,” said Cora Tate, grade six student at Sands Montessori. “And you can ask to see the dog if you're having a hard day or really stressed. He has a nice presence, and when I'm having a bad day and I see Dug, it makes me really happy."

During the day, Dug is taken care of by three school handlers for his daily classroom visits. Dug also works one-on-one with students if further intervention is needed. At the end of the day, Dug goes home with one of his handlers to his host family.

“I do check-ins with students in my office. Dug will come and hang out or help by just being a calming presence and can help with de-escalation if we have students with negative behaviors,” said school social worker and handler Nicole Kusi. “He promotes, positive behaviors with students, while others may just need some emotional regulation.”

While it can be said without a doubt that Dug’s presence in school instantly improves the emotional well-being of students, Kusi explained the school is actively collecting data from the visits to chart their academic improvement as well.

With Dug leading the way, CPS is barking up the right tree in providing an exceptional and heartwarming learning experience for its students.