Therapy dog at Granite Ridge middle school enjoys super star status
A Golden Retriever has become a common sight on a Clovis middle school campus.
Owen is in his second year at Granite Ridge. He's probably one of the most popular volunteers.
Students say a few minutes petting Owen puts them at ease. Claire Steinbronn is used to being upstaged by Owen, a fully certified therapy dog.
"He's a celebrity. I really don't exist when he's around. People are walking and they scream like I'm walking with a star from one direction."
He's no stranger on the Granite Ridge campus. Students can't resist making friends with Owen. Ashlyn Leath and Ashley Leeds are seventh graders at Granite Ridge.
"I like literally flipped. I was so excited. Dogs are like my favorite animal." He's like a girl's best friend."
This is Owen's fourth year in Clovis Unified. Before getting the green light to be in the classroom he had to interview with high ranking administrators in the district.
It didn't take long to see his value. "When a student is petting Owen you can just see the stress fall off their shoulder because when you're with Owen the thing about dogs, dogs don't judge."
More than once, Owen's presence has created a breakthrough in tough situations. "When he works with our psychology team, kids will open up with Owen in their room and the psychologists
will say you know I've been trying to get that kid to say this kind of stuff for months."
During her prep period Steinbronn often takes Owen to Clovis North High on the other side of campus. "They will lay down on the floor with him. They'll pet him and it's amazing to see."
Owen knows how to work the crowd on two campuses and in the main office. "These are Owen's treats, right?"
Owen is a volunteer at Granite Ridge so Claire Steinbronn picks up the bill for his liability and health insurance plus grooming. The Bronco Foundation has created a gofundme account to give back to the
top dog on campus. If you would like to help here's the link: https://www.gofundme.com/CNECtherapydog
Soon there might be two dogs at Granite Ridge. Steinbronn is working with her other therapy dog but admits he's just not ready yet.