WEST MILFORD, W.Va. – Meet Bijou. She’s the new certified therapy dog at West Milford Elementary School. Bijou is part of Mrs. Williams’s third grade class, and she’s here to help kids with anxiety.
It all started when Megan Williams purchased Bijou for her son, who is autistic. “He really relates to dogs and animals in general, so we got [Bijou] for him, and then I had to figure out how I can utilize her at school.”
Bijou has her own corner of the room where students can go to pet the dog or play with stress-relieving toys. Williams said that her students can become more focused on assignments after a break with Bijou.
“She kind of lays back in the back of the room and kids will come in and they’ll take breaks if they are just having a bad day, if they are over-stimulated–it could be lots of different reasons,” said Williams, “They’ll come in and they’ll see her, they sit with her, they read to her. She just really calms them down.”
Principal Danielle Fenstermacher said that Bijou helps relieve stress for other students and staff, too. Children in other classes will pet the dog on the way to class, and teachers at the school will pet and give her treats as well.
Williams has a bearded dragon in her classroom, too. She uses it to teach her students lessons about lizards and the insects they eat.