MISSION, TEXAS (Jan. 22, 2024) – Mission Consolidated Independent School District (Mission CISD) is excited to introduce its newest team member, Comet – a Golden Retriever and the district's first therapy dog, here to lend a paw in supporting the mental health of students and staff.
Jesse Trevino, director of Guidance and Counseling for Mission CISD, emphasizes that Comet brings more than just a furry face to the district.
"The benefits of a therapy dog for schools are bountiful,” Trevino said. “Studies have shown that having therapy dogs in a school setting leads to better attendance, enhanced motivation, increased confidence levels, and a reduction in anxiety behaviors, ultimately improving learning outcomes."
Comet, a graduate of the local therapy dog academy, Canines in Action, has been in training since he was four months old.
Beyond assisting students, Comet will also cater to the well-being of district staff.
"We recognize the positive impact pets can have on their owners, even if they're not certified therapy pets,” Trevino said. “Whether it's dogs, cats, or even birds, they bring happiness and help relieve stress. We aim to bring some of that joy to our district,"
Comet will work with and be handled by the district’s licensed professional counselors, Miguel Garza and Jeanette Gonzalez-Balesteros. Garza said he’s excited to begin working with the four-legged friend.
“Comet will be benefiting our school district but I am excited that I will also be taking him home in the evenings and introducing him to my family,” Garza said.
Comet's first initiative will be hosting group therapy sessions for students before test-taking, designed to boost confidence and ease pre-test stress. He will also be visiting with students and staff experiencing anxiety and depression.
Trevino says while Comet will provide so many added benefits to the school district, the district will also help Comet.
"Having Comet in our classrooms and offices will not only help those he comes in contact with," Trevino said. "But in turn, he will teach our students and staff about proper animal welfare and the love and work it takes to care for animals at home, it's a beautiful partnership, man's best friend."
Comet will be making the rounds to both students and staff of Mission CISD this spring, so keep an eye out and lend a hand – or paw – when you see him!