BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Ohana has been at Prairieview Elementary School for only a few months and everyone already loves her, her peers said.
Students walk her, pet her and make sure to give her belly rubs, something she loves the most.
“When she comes in our classroom she comes around us and she don’t go away from us,” said 4th grader Jeremiah Clark. “She sit by us and we pet with her. She likes tummy rubs and all that stuff.”
Clark said she’s a nice dog that never barks. She’s always calm and comforting to everyone.
“When I’m sad because I miss my mom, my teacher says that I can come up here and pet her,” said 1st grader Willow Takens.
That’s what Ohana is trained to do, said her handler Kelsey Sinclair. She’s a therapy dog and her only job is to love up on the kids and for the kids to do the same with her.
“We all have everyday things that happen and there’s times when kids come in with very high anxiety,” Sinclair said. “Just seeing Ohana in the morning can turn that around.”
She not only helps students, Sinclair said. She helps everyone in the building.
“It’s really helpful for the kids and I’ll say staff members and adults have bad days too,” said Lakeview Schools Superintendent Blake Prewitt. “Just having that dog there for them at times, it’s a real great benefit to the school.”
Prewitt said they got Ohana this school year after she underwent extensive training in Ortonville, Michigan near Flint. An anonymous donor paid for the school to have Ohana and so far she’s fitting in well.
“Seeing the kids and them talking about how much better it makes their day, I’m just so happy that we have her here and a great job she’s doing,” he said.
Prewitt’s family loves her as well, he said. He takes the one-year-old puppy home after work and allows her to be “100 percent dog.” She runs around the yard and catches what's thrown to her.
“Actually they just took school pictures and they took a school picture of Ohana,” Prewitt said. “I actually ordered school pictures of her so that we can have it in the house.”
Ohana is the second therapy dog in the Lakeview School District. Typically therapy dogs work for about 10 years, he said. So, that's how long she’s expected to stay at Prairieview, where students already consider her to be family.
“We pride ourselves here at Prairieview on being family,” Prewitt said. “Ohana means family. So she definitely fits right in here with us.”