CHARLES CITY, Iowa – A new service dog in Charles City is getting in his hours so he can serve his community, and he’s doing it in the classroom.
A lab named Rocky is getting training as part of the “Retrieving Freedom” program, which trains dogs to help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as children with Autism. He is the first service dog in the school, and is part ofÂ a concept of allowing dogs that serve a special purpose in school, including a therapy dog and a police K-9 named Jordy.
Jenae Noonan is a Spanish teacher at Charles City High School, and also trains service dogs like Rocky. She says there are distinctions between the types of dogs.
“Rocky gets to be pet by one person, the person who has the leash. Therapy dogs, which I’ve had before, they’re used to going up, ‘hey, that dog is there for me to pet to make me happy,’ and learning the difference between allÂ three and whatever else might come our way, is incredibly important.”
Noonan adds that Rocky is not a distraction to students, who are already fans of him.
“Everyone that sees Rocky is blown away at how well behaved he is. He can hold a command longer than some students can sit in a desk or do other things. He is on task, he’s doing his thing, he knows what it is. I can tell him a place command, and 40 minutes later, he’s still doing it.”
According to Retrieving Freedom, service dogs are trained to meet the needs of their specific recipient. They also go through more than two years of training to meet strict standards for placement. After Rocky’s training, which finishes at the end of the semester, he will be placed with a veteran or child.