Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Easing the Angst – Cova Helps Begbie View Elementary Students

Cova stands in the hallway next to Learning Assistance teacher Rory Luxmoore as students stream by. She is at ease as the children rove, and every few seconds, a different small hand gives her a quick caress. She has been at Begbie View Elementary (BVE) since September and is the second therapy dog in the local school district (the other being Brush at the Revelstoke Secondary School.)

Luxmoore is more than just Cova’s daytime handler, she’s his family dog. 

“We got Cova about a year and a half ago from a rescue,” explains Luxmore. “I initially didn’t really want to get another dog, but my daughter and my wife (BVE teacher Sarah Newton) had been planning to see if they could find a dog. I had gone away, and when I got back, we had a dog.”

Cova, who was four at the time, proved to be something special. As her bond with the family solidified, her intelligence and temperament convinced Luxmoore she would make an excellent therapy dog. 

“It’s ironic, because I have ended up spending the most time with her,” he says.

Cova’s therapy training took a year to complete and required her to ace three different tests to ensure she had a suitable temperament and the skills for the job. She passed with flying colours. 

The temperament of therapy animals is vital. Though students are versed in how to approach Cova, there are times when she enters a room and several hands reach for her at once. At school, she is at work, and doesn’t seek out attention, though she does offer support.

Considering the Revelstoke School District (SD19) Plan for Success  marks students’ health and well being as the top priority, Cova’s presence is a beautiful part of bringing that plan to fruition. SD19 Superintendent Mike Hooker is thrilled to have Cova and Brush hard at work in the schools.

“We are very lucky to have Brush and Cova in the schools. Our trustees provided some funding to support the cost and time associated with helping Rory and Dana bring Cova and Brush into the lives of our students, but we are really we are just fortunate to have had the two of them commit so much time and effort to making it happen,” Hooker explains.

Luxmoore notes that anxiety is an increasing issue with today’s students, and Cova helps mitigate or offer relief from that stress. 

“Having her there can help take the edge off,” he says. “There are strategies we teach students to cope with anxious moments, and I think the calm non judging presence of a dog really helps. Every student has different needs, and Cova fits well into that.”

Hooker agrees, noting he’s seen worry and stress drain from students faces when a dog approaches.

“I see first-hand the day to day positive affect that both Brush and Cova have on our students – and our staff.  Many students go looking for them as soon as they arrive at school in the morning, and go to say goodbye before leaving. Dogs offer unconditional friendship and are genuinely happy to see everyone who takes the time to say hi,” he says. 

When Cova isn’t needed, she’s still welcome company to students doing work in the hallways or practicing their reading aloud skills. Given the chance, she is prone to sneaking off to Ms. Newton’s class, where she has her own cubby to hang out in.

In her brief time at the school, Cova is contributing to the schools culture, offering a kind, calm presence. She is learning intuitively which students seem to need her, settling in next to them whether they are in the classroom, a hallway, or outside during a school activity.

“She’s accepting and loving of everyone,” says Luxmoore. “She’s a relaxing presence and also adds a bit of a fun element.”

What BVE thinks of CovaInterviews– by BVE grade 5 student Rowan Marcinyshyn

RM: How does having Cova at BVE affect you? 

Sienna: She makes me feel happier.

RM: What do you do with Cova?

Sienna: I don’t do much with her, she just makes me feel happy being there with me.

 

RM: How does Cova make you feel? 

Olivia: Makes me feel happy and safe at school.

RM: What do you do with Cova?

Olivia: I sit with her sometimes and pet her. 

RM: What do you think of Cova?

Olivia: She’s a great dog.

 

RM: How does Cova affect you?

Solomon: She’s cute, she makes me happy.

RM: What do you do with Cova?

Solomon: I pet her.

 

RM: How does Cova affect you?

Ms Wolves: In a positive way I find myself taking a deep breath whenever I look at her.

RM: How does Cova make you feel?

Ms. Wolves: Relaxed and happy.

RM: What do you do with Cova?

Ms. Wolves: I always give her a pet her and look in her eyes. We sometimes get the privilege of  taking her out in our activities in the afternoon, so she has joined us for walks and snowshoeing.

RM: Anything else you want to add?

Ms. Wolves: She’s the best to have in our school, I wish every school can have a dog. 

 

The Difference Between Therapy Dogs and Service Dogs

Therapy Dogs go through a rigorous training to ensure their temperament remains calm in stressful situations. Trained to use both their social instincts and learned skills for social, emotional and cognitive benefits. Research has shown their presence helps lower stress and blood pressure and creates serotonin in the brain. 

Service Dogs are trained to help an individual with their specific disability, including guide dogs for the blind and dogs trained to sense and respond to their person’s seizure disabilities. 

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