Since 2010, students at Big Walnut have depended on the social, emotional, and behavioral support of their very own certified Therapy Dog – Stanley.
Stanley’s owner, district Mental Health & Behavior Intervention Consultant Joey Thompson, said Stanley has been a district staple for the past six years. Thompson, who has been with the district for seven years, said most students in the district’s seven school buildings wouldn’t know her by name, but everyone knows Stanley.
“Whether co-facilitating an elementary social skills group, trotting dutifully beside a student taking a sensory break, or simply comforting students by lying at their feet, Stanley has impacted the emotional health of hundreds,” Thompson said. “As part of the mental health services offered by the Big Walnut district, Stanley visits classes each week to support students with mental health, emotional, and behavioral disabilities.”
Then there was a reversal. Over this past summer, Thompson said, it was suddenly Stanley who was in need.
“For the first time in six years, Stanley missed the first day of school due to a sudden and life-threatening illness,” Thompson said. “Instead of helping others, Stanley needed help, and the Big Walnut community came through.”
Thompson said after two hospitalizations, numerous tests that included an ultrasound and a liver biopsy, a diagnosis was finally made. Stanley has a genetic liver disease that does not allow him to process the copper found in all commercial dog foods.
“Students sent cards and well wishes and the Big Walnut Community generously donated more than $2,000 toward his care via a Go Fund Me page established by Big Walnut Elementary second grade teacher, Becky Sliva,” Thompson said.
A year of free prescription food was also donated after Beth Zirllo, another second grade BWE teacher, contacted her friend Drew Hartley with Royal Canin.”
“The generosity of our district in supporting Stanley and his on-going care is amazing,” Thompson said. “Although Stanley will have to be monitored closely, take medication for the rest of his life, and remain on a specialized diet, he has returned to work in all district buildings.”
Thompson said she would like to thank members of the Big Walnut on Stanley’s behalf for the love and support expressed during Stanley’s medical crisis.
“Stanley is a great asset to the school district and the Big Walnut community,” Thompson said. “He’s helped hundreds of kids over the years and he’s happy to be back at work.”
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.