NORWICH – If you attended Gibson Primary School in the last 15 years, there's a good chance you've met Faith the certified therapy dog.
Faith is owned by Jennifer Parker, who has been the occupational therapist at Gibson school for 17 years. She works with children in kindergarten, first and second grades on fine motor, visual, sensory, self-care and handwriting skills.
Prior to Faith, Parker had raised three dogs for the blind, but when the program she was with closed, she knew having a therapy dog at the school would be beneficial. Parker was Faith's "puppy raiser" and received her at eight weeks old. Faith started at Gibson immediately as a "working dog" and has come to school with Parker every day since then.
A normal day for Faith starts when they get to school around 6:30 a.m. Faith can be found running around the school greeting teachers as they get to work and collecting her treats. She is often seen in the lobby greeting parents and teachers as they come in to school. Faith is used in different classrooms as a reading dog, where children can read to her. "Unconfident readers can build confidence by reading to Faith because she doesn't judge," said Parker.
Throughout the past 15 years, Faith has had many jobs. She has taught children to throw a ball in therapy and has helped them work on strength and endurance by being pulled in the wagon. Parker said, "Kids with weight or activity level challenges can walk her for exercise."