• Who are the dogs at Londonderry Elementary School?

    Sophie & Jackson, 2 therapy dogs, sitting in front of a sign that says, "be kind."  


    Who are the dogs at Londonderry Elementary School?

    • Sophie and Jackson, both Brittanys (Spaniel), are Mrs. Gearhart’s family pets. Since becoming members of the Gearhart family, Sophie (in 2011) and Jackson (in 2017) have been training and working with Mrs. Gearhart to become therapy dogs.  Both have completed many different types of classes and have passed two evaluations to become therapy dogs.  Gearhart is currently registered with both Sophie and Jackson as two individual therapy dog teams who volunteer for Keystone Pet Enhanced Therapy Services (KPETS) out of Lancaster.  They have participated in many Reading to the Dogs programs at local libraries and the Lower Dauphin Summer Reading Academy.


    What will Sophie and Jackson do at Londonderry Elementary?

    • Sophie and Jackson will attend school on different days and will be available to do a variety of activities at Londonderry. These include working with students to enhance their emotional regulation skills, self-control, friendship skills and learning.
    • They may listen to a child talk about a problem, be available for petting to calm an upset child, play at recess or give a child a sense of success when following commands or learning a new trick.


    What consideration has been given to students with dog allergies?

    Several steps will be followed to help minimize any allergic reactions:

    • Every parent is asked to confirm on the attached general permission slip if their child has any allergies to dogs. Sophie and Jackson will not be permitted into classrooms in which a student has an allergy. 
    • Before coming to Londonderry, Sophie and Jackson will be bathed to significantly reduce any dander that may cause an allergic reaction.
    • Students will wash their hands before and after interacting with Sophie or Jackson.


    What if my child is afraid of dogs? 

    ***Please let me know how your child feels about dogs on the attached general permission slip.***

    • No child will ever be forced to interact with Sophie or Jackson.
    • Children who are fearful will be given the choice to interact if they would like to.
    • Sophie’s CHAMPS are guidelines that will be taught to students to ensure that all of our students feel safe:
    • Commands: Firm, strong “Me” voice
    • Handler: Gearhart will always hold the leash and be in control of Sophie and Jackson
    • Activities: Comfort, motivate, listen, play
    • Manners: Approach slowly (up to 3 students at a time), Ask for permission (from 3 feet away), Pet gently (under the chin, along the sides), Say goodbye (after 1 minute, take turns)
    • Participation: Treat with kindness and respect (kind hands, voice, actions)
    • Success: They help motivate students to reach their goals and feel proud


    What type of training and health requirement have Sophie and Jackson had?

    • Both Sophie and Jackson have passed basic and advanced obedience classes and then went through a series of evaluations for temperament and behavior to become a registered Therapy Dog.
    • Sophie and Jackson must be up-to-date on their shots and declared healthy by a veterinarian.