Therapy dogs provide lessons in communication, empathy, patience for students

MBE Therapy Dogs
Maplebrook Elementary Teacher of the Year Lorrie Ogletree spends quality time with her two therapy dogs, Trey and Lily. In addition to calming students in crisis, the dogs also help MBE students learn responsibility and communication skills.

Students at Maplebrook Elementary are learning life skills involving patience, empathy, and how to better deal with life’s challenges with the help of therapy dogs.

Maplebrook Elementary 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year Lorrie Ogletree cares for 11-year-old Trey and 4-year-old Lily, who routinely visit the campus an average of three days a week.

Ms. Ogletree wrote and received a grant through the Humble ISD Education Foundation to help fund therapy training for the dogs.

“The Humble ISD Foundation helps create new opportunities for students to enrich their experience in the classroom,” Jerri Monbaron, Humble ISD Education Foundation Executive Director, said. “These therapy dogs are helping our students develop critical social-emotional skills. The Foundation is proud to play a role in bringing therapy dogs to multiple schools in Humble ISD.”

Training was a gradual process that was completed in steps. Ms. Ogletree oversaw it all from start to finish.

“We began training Lily and Trey at home in June before moving to training in public,” Ms. Ogletree said. “Once they graduated from training in public places like stores, we moved to the school for the next step in training.”

According to Ms. Ogletree, communicating with Trey and Lily is not just important for kids, but for adults as well.

“Interaction with the dogs is a much-needed distraction from everything that’s going on,” Ms. Ogletree said. “Trey and Lily offer support to adults and kids alike.”

In addition to providing support to students on campus, the dogs are also helping students who are virtual learners. Through Zoom, students still have the opportunity to interact with Trey and Lily.

“Some of our virtual learners might read a book to Trey and Lily through Zoom,” Ogletree said.

Students are all smiles when they see Trey and Lily. They say the dogs make learning fun.

“They’re really cute and soft and always fun to play with,” Torian McClary, third grader at Maplebrook Elementary, said. “When I’m feeling sad I just want to come and play with Lily and Trey.”

Ms. Ogletree has been with Humble ISD for 20 years and has spent the last five years as a school counselor at Maplebrook Elementary. 

Maplebrook Elementary’s therapy dogs were featured in a recent KHOU 11 story.  

MBE Therapy Dogs Lily and Trey
Left Image: Trey (front, center) and Lily share a moment with MBE mascot “Baxter” during a visit to the school. The dogs, trained as therapy dogs, provide social and behavioral learning opportunities for students. Right Image: MBE therapy dogs Lily (left) and Trey (right) were fully trained thanks to a grant from the Humble ISD Education Foundation.