BURLINGTON — The newest staff member at Burlington High School is a little different than the rest with four legs and full coat of fur. Therapy dog Tryg's first day on the job was Wednesday, but he's been interning at the school for the last year.
Troy Everson, Tryg's owner and a science teacher at the school, said after he had the opportunity to interact with a therapy dog he thought it would be great thing to help students in the classroom. And Tryg's arrival at school couldn't be more perfectly timed coming off a challenging year for so many.
"With everything that's happening in our world, with everything that's changing, students would have significant anxiety about school. They were unsure about what was going happen," said Everson. "We just want every student to have a sense of calm with the chaos of the world. It doesn't matter if that's an adult they connect with, if it's their group of friends they connect with, or if it happens to be our therapy dog."
There's not a comprehensive list of school districts in Wisconsin with therapy dogs, but it's certainly a rarity.
School Psychologist Allison Tenhagen said Tryg is especially helpful to students dealing with anxious feelings.
"A lot of students at the high school level struggle with anxiety, and it just calms them down naturally just having him there and then they're able to just process through what they need to work through with the adults here at school," Tenhagen said.
But it's not just mental health Tryg helps students with. He's can also help them excel with their school work.
"He greeted all of the AP students and wished them well on their exams," Everson said. "He works with students that are struggling to read. We've found that students would rather read to an animal that's totally not going to judge them."
And even students that don't have a big test coming up or another life stressor they're dealing with, Tryg has has already proven to just be a good friend.
"Tryg doesn't care where you came from. He doesn't care if you have new school clothes or if you weren't able to have new school clothes for this year. He is the most non-judgemental staff member we have at Burlington High School."
And although Tryg doesn't get a salary for the incredible work he does, he is compensated with love, affection and plenty of treats.