I think the biggest impact Leo has made is with one particular student I work with. Due to privacy issues I cannot go into specifics about this one kiddo (I'll call him J for John Doe), but, I will say he has a lot of issues to deal with at such a young age. I've been working with J for almost three weeks now, for about an hour a day and it's so neat to see what has been happening. This student calls Leo, 'his dog' and he often reaches out to Leo to touch him- the action seems almost subconscious actually. The students have been told that there is to be no touching/petting without my permission (we also use petting Leo as a reward for good behavior), but, I am inclined to let J touch Leo when he needs to. His teachers comment on how much calmer J is when we're in the room with him and I know that's in part to Leo's mellow yellow lab presence. Animals can truly be amazingly therapeutic and I am so lucky to see this day after day, especially in the relationship that has formed between Leo and J.
To say Leo's presence has been a positive one is an understatement. I love bringing him to work with me even if it means putting up with the little hassles that will inevitably happen with a puppy and training a service dog. It's worth it though, and to show that I will leave you all with this one very sweet episode from last Friday. The student, J, came with his classmates to the 1st grade class I was working in to read to the younger students and the younger students would, in turn, read to them. We allowed J to read to Leo and I (see picture above). Leo laid down calmly and watched him read, gradually falling asleep. After J read for awhile Leo woke back up and watched him again staying really low key; despite the classroom being noisy the area we sat in was a sea of calmness. J asked me something and I asked him to repeat it as I didn't hear it. J asked if he could give Leo a kiss. I said yes he could and J gave him a gentle peck on his forehead and Leo sighed and looked at him with contentment. What a moment to witness. There's an understanding going on between those two, one that I don't get to be a direct part of, but, one I am more than happy to have develop.
*That is Leo's first name. All the service dogs are give the 'last name' of 'At Your Service'