Therapy Dog


LCSD's therapy dog is named Hank, and he was introduced as a puppy to the district in January 2024. Hank is an English Cream Golden Retriever, donated by Donna Spearin of Spearin Farms. Although ownership of Hank remains with Orleans County, School Resource Officer Deputy Jason Barnum and his family are Hank's host family. Hank is not a police dog; he is a School Therapy Dog. He supports the social-emotional and mental health and well-being of students.

Hank will go through a year-long Therapy Dog training. School counselors, administrators, and members of faculty and staff will attend trainings to develop programing, supervise Hank in a school setting, and support him.

Having a therapy dog in the district is made possible through a collaboration between the school, county and Orleans County Sheriff's Department. Generous donations were received from the Lyndonville Area Foundation and the Lyndonville Lions Club for materials and supplies for Hank.

There is a tremendous amount of research surrounding the positive impact of a therapy dog in school. From National Library of Medicine: “Therapy dogs have been found to reduce physiological symptoms of stress through lowering cortisol levels, increasing positive emotions, promoting engagement in learning activities and positive attitudes toward learning, reducing negative behaviours like task avoidance and aggression in the classroom, as well as encouraging prosocial behaviours and acting as a “social catalyst” to facilitate social interactions with others.” For more information about the positive impacts and programming for School Therapy Dogs, you can visit: or

On Therapy Dog Appreciation Day (April 11), Lyndonville students and staff shared how much they appreciate having a school therapy dog. Hank and Deputy Barnum regularly interact with the school community. He is still in training as a therapy dog to support students, but he is already having a positive effect on everyone at school. Some examples:

  • Hank is having an impact on a Pre-K student who is shy and doesn’t vocalize words very often. Once this student saw Hank, he said, “Puppy!” This has opened the door to this student being more willing to vocalize words and become more talkative at school.

  • A reading teacher talked about how Hank brightens her day and said, “Officer Barnum is so kind to share Hank with all of us!”

  • A second grade student said, “I really like that Deputy Barnum and Hank always greet us with a warm hello and smile.”

  • A second grade teacher shared that Hank visited her class before break week, and he remained calm while all 16 students petted him. One of her students said, "Hank makes me feel so happy, cozy and comfortable in school!"

  • Many students commented on how Hank is “soft as a pillow” to pet.

  • A special education staff member said, “I was not having the best start to my day, and Deputy Barnum brought Hank in for a surprise visit. It turned my entire day around! The visit from Hank was just what I needed!”