Lewisburg Elementary School welcomes new therapy dog, Pixie

PRESS RELEASE:

LEWISBURG, W.Va. – First Lady Cathy and Gov. Jim Justice visited Lewisburg Elementary School, on Tuesday, for an assembly to celebrate the arrival of the state’s next therapy dog through the Friends With Paws program.
 
The dog introduced at today’s event is named Pixie, and she is an Apricot-colored Labradoodle.
  
“I am so excited to see Pixie put her excellent skills to work here at Lewisburg Elementary,” First Lady Justice said. “The Friends With Paws therapy dogs don’t fall short when it comes to benefiting our children’s social and emotional well-being. Pixie will fit in just fine here at her new home.”

The Friends With Paws program places certified therapy dogs in schools across the state, providing companionship and comfort for students in need of a boost. Since February 2024, a total of 22 Friends With Paws therapy dogs, including Pixie, have been placed throughout the state.

Therapy dogs are specially trained to comfort and support people in various tense environments. They can help people feel at ease, improve their mood, relieve anxiety, and remove social barriers.

These dogs are highly trained and certified to show their ability to work in stressful environments, ignore distractions, and provide therapy to people with diverse backgrounds and circumstances.

Following today’s assembly, students and staff had the chance to greet Pixie.

“We are extremely excited to have Pixie join our school family. She will be an outlet for our students and provide additional support to our most vulnerable students,” Lewisburg Elementary School Principal Sara Bennett said. “Therapy dogs are the embodiment of pure empathy.”

The Friends With Paws program is a partnership between the Governor’s Office, West Virginia Communities In Schools (CIS) Nonprofit, and the West Virginia Department of Education. Therapy dogs are placed in schools within CIS counties where students are disproportionately affected by poverty, substance misuse, or other at-risk situations, and are in the greatest need of a support animal. The dogs serve as a healthy and friendly outlet for these students to address trauma and other social-emotional issues.

“On behalf of Lewisburg Elementary School students, teachers, staff, parents and Greenbrier County Schools Board of Education, we are ecstatic with joy and grateful hearts with the arrival of Pixie who will be serving LES as their therapy dog,” Greenbrier County Schools Superintendent Jeff Bryant said. “It is a proven fact that therapy dogs have a significant positive impact on students and staff by increasing student and staff attendance, improvement in student achievement, creating a school climate where students experience a sincere sense of a calm, care, and safety. The love that therapy dogs give unconditionally provides students with a positive self-image and inspired self-esteem. The Lewisburg Elementary School Family comprised of students, teachers, staff, parents, caregivers, and community share their love and appreciation to our Honorable Governor Jim Justice and our gracious and loving First lady Cathy Justice for blessing the school with their very own therapy dog “Pixie” who will win the hearts of everyone and become and immediate beloved member of the Lewisburg Elementary School Family!”

Schools that previously received therapy dogs through the Friends With Paws program include:

● Coal, a male Black Labrador, at Welch Elementary, McDowell County
● Foster, a male Golden Labradoodle, at Buckhannon Academy Elementary, Upshur County
● Jasper, a female Yellow Labrador, at Lewis County High School, Lewis County
● River, a male Yellow Labrador, at Pineville Elementary School, Wyoming County
● Shadow, a male Black Labrador, at Moorefield Elementary School, Hardy County
● Jet, a male Yellow Labrador, at Spring Mills High School, Berkeley County
● Kylo, a male Black Labrador, at Lenore PK-8 School, Mingo County
● Winnie, a female Apricot and White Labradoodle, at Wayne Elementary School, Wayne County
● Kasha, a female Yellow Labrador, at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, Pocahontas County
● Marshal, a male Cream Labradoodle, at Hinton Area Elementary School, Summers County
● Louie, a male Yellow Labrador, at Bridgeview Elementary School, Kanawha County
● Oakley, a male Apricot and Cream Labradoodle, at Oakvale Elementary School, Mercer County
● Ruby, a female Golden Retriever, at Greenbrier East High School, Greenbrier County
● Malfoy, a male Yellow Labrador, at Chapmanville Intermediate School, Logan County
● Tora, a female Yellow Labrador, at Elkins High School, Randolph County
● Skye, a female Brown Labradoodle, at Berkeley Springs High School, Morgan County
● Penny, a female Yellow Labrador, at Pendleton County Middle/High School, Pendleton County
● Nutter, a male Brown Labrador, at Ravenswood High School, Jackson County
● Meadow, a female Yellow Labrador, at Washington Lands Elementary School, Marshall County
 Clara, a female Golden Retriever, at Brooke Middle School, Brooke County
 Parker, a male Golden Retriever, at Wheeling Park High School, Ohio County

More information about Friends With Paws can be found in Communities In Schools: Friends With Paws, a documentary produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Click HERE to view the documentary.

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