Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Habibi and what does he do at school?
Habibi (which means ‘sweetheart’ in Arabic) is a labradoodle (labrador and poodle mix), and is certified as a therapy dog through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. He has many different jobs working with Ms. Zenn to help kids reach goals related to self-esteem, emotional regulation, friendship, and increased attention among many others.
Are there benefits to having therapy dogs in schools?
Over the years, numerous research studies have been undertaken to validate the benefits of animal assisted activity and in particular the contribution of therapy dogs. Empirical evidence has shown that therapy dogs can enhance children’s psychological development, improve social skills, and increase self-esteem among other benefits. Dogs can also teach responsibility, compassion, and respect for other living things. Dogs in the classroom can be used to calm fears, relieve anxiety, and teach social skills.
I’m worried about allergies. Is that being considered?
Habibi is part poodle which means he doesn’t shed, which significantly reduces allergic reactions. Students with more severe allergies may still be allergic to his saliva, in which case it is recommended that those students opt out of petting him. Before Habibi comes into the school, he is cleaned to reduce allergens, and students are asked to wash their hands after working with him.
My child is afraid of dogs. What should I do?
Please let Ms. Zenn and your child’s teacher know if your child has an aversion to dogs. Your student will never be required to touch or interact with Habibi if they do not want to. There are several rules that Habibi and Ms. Zenn follow at school to ensure that all our students feel safe.
Where can I learn more about therapy dogs in schools?
Here is a short sample of articles and websites that can help provide further information:
What is Habibi’s training?
Habibi has had over a year of training to pass his certification tests as a therapy dog through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. Here is a list of all the trainings and certifications Habibi has completed:
How does a dog become a certified therapy dog?
The Alliance of Therapy Dogs requires dogs to pass a skills test and perform those skills in three or more therapeutic settings. Dogs must demonstrate that they can:
Where has Habibi worked?
Habibi has worked as a therapy dog at:
How do I know Habibi is healthy?
Habibi holds a current Canine Health Certificate through Hannah the Pet Society. This documents that he is up to date on all shots and fecal testing. If you would like to see this document, please ask Ms. Zenn.