A rescued dog that will soon help crime victims navigate stressful situations visited local students Tuesday during their regular reading hour.
“Dr. Bear Lucas Lowry” — Bear for short — was rescued earlier this year and named by his owner, Michelle Lowry, community outreach director for District Attorney Matt Ballard’s office.
Bear was brought to visit Jennifer Collins’ second grade class at Westside Elementary School on Tuesday, and Ballard and Lowry later read to students.
The children observed Bear respond to commands given by Lowry, from shaking hands to “playing dead.”
Lowry explained to the children how Bear became a part of the DA’s office family — and how he will provide support for children and others who find themselves in stressful situations during the criminal justice process.
For instance, therapy dogs help kids cope with the anxiety and fear associated with testifying in court.
Students asked a series of questions about Bear — and were excited to learn that he will someday wear his own badge and have a job helping others.
Lowry described two books they would read about therapy dogs while Bear looked on from nearby.
Ballard read a story about a dog named Ben who helps children build self-esteem by improving reading skills in an entertaining way.
Lowry read the story “Adventures of Sheila the Therapy Dog.”
Sheila goes on journeys to help people who need it.
She and her owner go to nursing homes, schools and libraries to bring laughter. The book also explains how Sheila, like Bear, becomes a therapy dog.
Bear has completed all of his training, Lowry said.
Bear and Jerzy — the county’s other therapy dog — will be sworn in at the Rogers County Courthouse later this year.