Patrick, therapy dog in training, provides fun, support to Saint Patrick High School students
by BRIAN NADIG
A therapy dog in training has been providing fun and support every Wednesday this school year at Saint Patrick High School, 5900 W. Belmont Ave.
Patrick, a Goldendoodle, has his own school identification card and greets students as they walk into the school.
“Our kids have a lot of fun (with Patrick),” said counseling department chair Joe Smailis. He added the school administration was very open to the idea and that students and teachers have welcomed Patrick’s presence.
Melisa Moroko, a parent of a Saint Patrick student, said that she got the idea to bring Patrick to the school after she saw how well he interacted with inmates at Cook County Jail, where she volunteers in the garden.
Once classes start, Patrick is taken to the library where he has water and a bed, Moroko said. He will be taken to a class when requested by a teacher, and sometimes he greets students in a hallway, and they roll a ball for him to fetch.
If Patrick can cheer up just one student who is having a bad day, having him at school is worth it, Moroko said. “The whole point of a therapy dog is to share Patrick with other people,” she said.
Moroko said that last year she learned about Patrick on social media through a dog rescue group and described to bring him into her family. He will be two-years-old in November.
The school recently held a “shadow day” in which junior high students visit for a day, and Patrick was well received by the prospective freshmen. “They couldn’t believe the school had a dog,” she said.
(photo by Meredith Santucci)