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Golden Doodle Joins Greenbriar Staff

Greenbriar School will soon have a new staff member who works for kibble and belly rubs.

Krieger the golden doodle will be joining the Greenbriar staff in November. He can do his job laying down – and often does. He is a service dog specially trained to provide emotional support for students. He will spend his school days in the offices of Ms. Meghan Dames, the school social worker, Ms. Gretta Montagano, the school psychologist, and Dr. Ginny Hiltz the Greenbriar principal.

“The idea is to give kids a chance to interact with Krieger, particularly when they are having a hard time and need a moment to regroup,” said Dr. Hiltz. “Based on our experiences working with the service dogs last year, students who struggle with language or emotions usually start talking when the dogs are around. Kids who are really having a hard time emotionally tend to settle and calm enough to go back to class after visiting with one of the service dogs. We’ve already seen the benefits just from service dog visits and we are really excited to have Krieger with us every day.”

Jonah Newhouse, 2nd grade, visits with Greenbriar teacher Jeri Hart and Krieger the golden doodle is ready to accept pets.

Jonah Newhouse, 2nd grade, visits with Greenbriar teacher Jeri Hart and Krieger the golden doodle is ready to accept pets. Ms. Hart will be Krieger’s owner when he completes his therapy dog training with Canines 4 Comfort and will bring him to school every day. Krieger will work with students in the student services office and school office.

Krieger is being trained by Canines4Comfort, a non-profit organization serving northern Illinois. Lisa Wernli, one of the founding members of C4C, visited Greenbriar recently with Krieger and another trained therapy dog, Buddy.  The organization places dogs with veterans, children and other community members for emotional and psychological support. This is the first dog they are placing to work in a school.

Wernli devoted herself to the organization after witnessing the therapeutic effects the family’s golden retriever had on her daughter.

“Watching our golden retriever spark a new confidence in our daughter gives me hope that the love and attention from a dog can help others heal and achieve their own versions of success,” she writes on the organization’s website.

Placing Krieger at Greenbriar has been a community effort. District 28 Board Member Michelle Kohler connected the school with Canines4Comfort after Dr. Hiltz had expressed an interest in bringing a therapy dog to the school. Greenbriar teacher Jeri Hart volunteered to become Krieger’s owner when he finishes his training and passes the Canine Good Citizen test and starts coming to school daily. 

“Becoming Krieger's owner is literally my dream come true! I have always wanted a dog, but my overly complicated schedule has always made it impossible for me to actually get one,” Ms. Hart said. “Being able to bring Krieger to work every day solves that problem.”

Ms. Hart will continue with Krieger’s training to keep him sharp. Only students who have written permission from their parents will have the opportunity to interact with the dog.  Krieger will start out with office hours, and as he gets to know the school and vice versa, his role may expand.

 Social Worker Meghan Dames, left, Krieger the golden doodle, and teacher Jeri Hart pose for a photo

Social Worker Meghan Dames, left, Krieger the golden doodle, and teacher Jeri Hart are excited to get started with dog therapy at Greenbriar School, starting in November.


Terry Ryan