DARTMOUTH, Mass. (WPRI) — When Dartmouth High School students return to the classroom Monday, they could be greeted by a dog.

Principal Ross Thibault said the school therapy dog idea was born about four years ago, after a visit to Burlington High School, which uses a therapy dog.

“Seeing the positive impact that the therapy dog had at Burlington motivated us to begin exploring the possibility of bringing one to Dartmouth High School.” said Thibault, “Then the pandemic hit and schools were shuttered and we were forced to go remote.”

The cost of aquiring and training a therapy dog tabled the principal’s plans.

That later changed after Assistant Principal Richard Gill adopted a cockapoo (cocker spaniel and poodle) puppy named Augie.

Gill decided to start private training with Augie through Harmonious Hounds and the cockapoo later passed the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test.

“This pandemic has exacerbated mental health issues for some students and we know from research that the simple act of petting a dog can lower blood pressure and reduce stress and anxiety.” said Thibault, “Augie provides our School Social Workers one more way to support our students’ social emotional wellness.”

Monday, February 1 is the first day students will be back in the school since before the December holiday break.