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Therapy dog joins classes at KMS

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KANOPOLIS — Kanopolis Middle School recently acquired a new member of the team — and he isn’t a Bulldog. Redding the goldendoodle is a professional therapy dog.  
“Redding, a professional therapy dog, works with children to help them positively manage their emotions, learn about social skills and creating relationships, feel more connected to school and inspire them to do and be their best,” KMS sixth grade math and social studies teacher Deb Talbott said. She and Redding are a Certified Assistance Dog Team.
During math class on a recent Monday, Redding wove in and out of desks as students worked on geometric figures.
“Sometimes when I get frustrated in class, it seems he always knows,” sixth grader Korbyn Jensen said. “He’s also cute and fluffy.”
Redding quietly walked the room, nuzzling a student or seeking a scratch on the head.
“Redding is a goldendoodle who works daily alongside Mrs. Talbott to encourage and motivate students to demonstrate kindness and compassion and model good behavior, tolerance and acceptance.,” said Angela Montoy, KMS secretary.  
According to Purina Mills, a goldendoodle is a cross between a golden retriever and a Standard Poodle. It is an active dog breed that is highly social. Both the poodle and golden retriever are listed as top breeds for therapy dogs, and the crossbreed has recently been added as well. The combined temperaments of these large, loving animals make for gentle giants.
“KMS is proud to partner with CARES, Inc., to provide Redding,” Montoy said.  
According to their website, the largest specialty service CARES has to offer is the provision of canine assistants to people across the country. They’ve placed 1,400 dogs in 41 states and eight countries. CARES is one of the only schools that acts as a center for independent living and accepts applications for children and persons with multiple disabilities. The organization began in 1994 and has provided services to more than 250 clients, providing well over 1,000 hours of advocacy and consultation to people all over the country annually. They’ve networked with more than 150 different agencies to provide information and services to people with disabilities.  
“Redding has completed over a year of training through CARES, Inc. and is certified by Assistance Dogs International to have passed the Public Access Test as applicable to the laws of the State of Kansas and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” Talbott said.
Redding was purchased with funds from a private donor in western Kansas and a $750 grant from the Smoky Hills Charitable Foundation. The application was filed with CARES, Inc. of Concordia more than a year ago, and in September, Redding was ready for placement after completing his training.
Students and staff have accepted the four-legged addition with open arms. The addition of Redding is just one more way the district can show how much they care about their student body.
“Students at KMS interact with Redding with enthusiasm and kindness. He has a very calming effect on those around him,” Talbott said. “We are excited to offer this latest addition to an already amazing community of staff and students at KMS.”