Walled Lake elementary school welcomes first ever therapy dog

Tuesday meant the red carpet treatment for Champ the therapy dog, complete with a serenade from the students of Guest Elementary.

And they've waited a long time to welcome her home.

She is the newest addition to the family at the Walled Lake school. Guest Elementary is the first school in Oakland County to own a therapy dog. It's been the dream of special education teacher, Monica House.

Now 11 months old, Champ has been in training since she was just seven weeks.

"I just can't believe that this actually came true," House said.

House says students have so many needs - physical, social, cognitive, emotional - and Champ is now here to help with all of  them. House says Champ is already helping reduce anxiety in the students.

"I see smiles on kids faces that we never see smile," said House.

Everyone is smiling - even fourth grader Gavin Dooley couldn't keep from grinning - thinking about how Champ will make people happy.

"They're nice and they're helpful, they're cute," he said. "They make people feel happy, like when they're mad or sad."

"They keep people company," said Kaia Mead. "Like somebody who isn't really good at reading, you could sit down and read with her or something." Kaia is a third grader and a dog lover. "It's hard to resist that face it's so cute."

Champ is a trailblazer. The goal now to get a therapy dog at every school in the district.

"Once it's hugely successful here - which it will be - we'll move on to Walled Lake Western and start in the fall with a therapy dog there, and when it's successful there we'll start to have one in every one of our schools," said Kent Gutman, superintendent. "Where there's a will and a way. We know it's good for kids and we're excited to make it happen."

Nineteen schools in all but it all starts here, with a party for a pup who doesn't even know how special she already is.

"The companionship and the unconditional love that she has with her all the time is going to help our students," said principal Michelle Feibke-Lang.

"She's really cute and sweet and i'm excited to have her here," Kaia said.

And we think Champ is happy to be here, too.