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Therapy dogs help Calallen students in grieving process after varsity soccer player’s death

Posted at 5:37 PM, Mar 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-19 16:27:01-04

Only two days after the Calallen Independent School District dismissed classes for spring break, senior varsity soccer player Alivia Adair suffered a brain aneurysm.

Alivia was a well-rounded student who also ran track and was a cheerleader during her sophomore year. She planned to pursue a Master of Architecture degree after high school.

Monday was the first day back for students and staff at Calallen High School where Alivia attended. The district offered counseling to help classmates cope with her sudden death.

A special support team, the GO-Team Therapy Dogs were there to help provide comfort through certified and trained dogs and their handlers.

The handlers and dogs work on a volunteer basis visiting schools, nursing homes or victims of a major crisis event like a mass shooting.

Staff at Calallen High School say this is the first time they’ve had the GO-Team visit with their students. After Monday, the feedback has been positive, they say.

“The response to the dogs has been phenomenal,” Calallen High School counselor Sherry Johnson said. “Sometimes people just want to have their moment of silence with a dog or somebody they can just relate to.”

Robert Steele, a volunteer with the GO-Team, helped lift the spirits of a grieving student. After the session, he said he understood how much his dog had helped.

“He started petting her and (after) probably 30 minutes he just sat there and kept calling her back she’d walk away and he kept calling her back,” Steele said. “He’d just stroke her ears and you could see the change in his face. That’s why I do it.”

Counselors told KRIS 6 News that students visited with the dogs throughout the day. We wanted to give those students privacy.

For more information on the GO-Team Therapy Dogs, visit theirwebsite and Facebook page.