Duke Ellington passes his tests

Duke the therapy dog

Congratulations to Duke Ellington, a German shorthair pointer, for achieving certification by the Alliance of Therapy Dogs and for making progress towards becoming a Canine Good Citizen! Owner-trainer Brian Benford, Odyssey alum and full-time success coach, notes, “I hold high expectations for Duke. After all, he is named after one of our greatest jazz masters. Since he was eight weeks old, I have been preparing him to support Odyssey as our in-house ‘Read to a Dog’ buddy and to support our students’ physical and mental health.”

Brian cites studies showing that reading to dogs helps children and adults gain self-confidence and public speaking skills. “Most children have a natural affinity that allows them to bond with a canine friend, and children are less self-conscious reading aloud to nonjudgmental dogs. And adults who interact with trained therapy dogs have lowered blood pressure, slower heart rates, relaxed muscles, and reduced stress and anxiety.”

Duke has been welcomed into City Council meetings, where Brian serves as an Alder, into beds at hospice care, and into our Odyssey and Odyssey Junior classrooms. “When you see Duke Ellington in the classrooms or hallways,” Brian says, “feel free to pet, snuggle, high five, or just say hello to our new, furry, four-legged team member.”