New therapy dog roams North halls

Pippin, Luigi help students


LT’s NC therapy dog is ready to provide emotional support of any students (Lestina/LION).

Scarlett Lestina, Managing Editor

Since the start of the 2022-2023 school year, Pippin, the new addition to the LT counseling office, has been wandering the halls of NC. Equipped with her own student ID, she is one of LT’s very own therapy dogs, hired to help relieve the stress and anxiety of students. 

“[Having Pippin] is wonderful,” said Drew Eder, Division Chair for Counseling and Student Support Services and one of Pippin’s handlers. “Students stop and talk to me: they talk about their families, they talk about their dogs, they ask questions. She truly is a relationship magnifier.”

Pippin is an English black Labrador retriever, barely 2 years old, her owner Danielle Hull said. She came from Paws with a Cause, an organization dedicated to producing service dogs. Pippin spent her first year living with the Hulls before being sent to a prison in Michigan to complete her service dog training through Paws. After the six-month training period, she was evaluated to see if she would be a good service dog. 

Upon inspection, it was determined that Pippin had hip dysplasia, which automatically disqualifies her from being a service dog. Instead, she was sent back to live with the Hulls where it was decided that she would be a good fit to be a therapy dog and was adopted into their family.

“Once Pippin came back [from prison], [Paws] felt like she would be a good match to come back to us and that she had the skill set we were looking for: to provide facility dog services,” Hull said. 

While there is another service dog, Luigi, at SC five days a week, Pippin has a bit more of a complicated schedule, Hull said. On Tuesdays and Thursdays Pippin is at NC wherever she is needed. She can typically be found in the counselor’s office, the Reentry Program, or the hallways. During the other three days of the school week, she is at the All Our Children’s Advocacy Center (AOCAC) where she is responsible for helping children going through tough times related to trauma, abuse, and other major crimes. Hull is the executive director at AOCAC, where Pippin is under her supervision, but at LT, Pippin has three main handlers that are continuing to find a schedule that will fit Pippin.

“Pippin makes me want to come to school,” a student in the Re-entry Program who wished to remain anonymous said.

Throughout the days that Pippin is at LT, she continues to lift spirits as well as completing her training which will allow her to be a certified therapy dog, Hull said. While nothing major will change, there will be some differences in her behavior, with aims to be less distracted, rarely barking, more understanding of her commands, and overall armed with a fine-tuned skill set. For this school year, Pippin arrives at 7:30 a.m. with Hull’s son, Jack Hull ‘24, and is picked up at the end of the school day.

During the short time she has been at LT, she has made an impact on the students and community surrounding LT.

“[Pippin] causes people to feel comfort and happiness in the middle of a school day when we all want to be picked up,” Eder said. “Sometimes, you just need a boost. I think Pippin brings that, and so does Luigi.”