Dobby is probably the most popular volunteer at Clinton Elementary School.
The 2½-year-old miniature golden doodle (golden retriever/poodle mix) walks around greeting the children nearly every day. His presence brings smiles to the children.
Dobby is a therapy dog at CES.
“I believe that happy children learn more and Dobby brings smiles where ever he goes,” said Dobby’s owner Dean Karr, a 4th grade learning specialist and ESL (English as a second language) teacher.
The school’s previous therapy dog retired last year when his owner did the same and because Dobby has “such a laid back personality,” Karr decided he might be a good fit to take over the role.
Karr began bringing Dobby to school when he was a puppy. He has learned to move from student to student for pets and hugs, while not getting too far from Karr.
“He doesn’t want to go more than six feet from me,” said Karr, “so even if I have him off his lead, he doesn’t stay very long without me being nearby.”
A graduate of obedience training, Dobby completed his “Good Citizen” exam last year.
One of the things the students had to learn was to sit quietly to get Dobby’s attention.
Initially, Karr said students would all call his name at once, so Dobby learned not to respond to their calls. However, if they are sitting quietly, Dobby will go to them for quiet pets.
“When students get to school before the school day begins, they sit by their lockers and read or talk to friends,” said Karr. “This is Dobby’s favorite time. He goes from student to student working his way down the hall.”
During morning classes, Dobby wanders around the classroom moving from desk to desk letting students give a quick pet without disturbing the class.
“Kids don’t stop working, they just quietly pet and (Dobby) goes on.”
Dobby is also a good listener.
In the afternoon, students read to him.
Schoolwork comes first, Karr explained, but time with Dobby is often used as a reward.
There have been several students at CES who were nervous around dogs, Karr said, but after spending time with Dobby, they’ve become more relaxed around him.
“The fact that he’s soft and cuddly helps a lot,” said Karr with a smile.