For a while, LASA students had the privilege of being able to walk down the hallways and see a therapy dog around the corner, there to help lower stress levels and make students happier. But now, that has changed because of COVID-19 forcing people to social distance and stay at home.
Although some people are currently attending school in person as a result of AISD’s new plan for campus learning, many LASA students are still learning from home virtually. Scout, LASA’s therapy dog, is also taking a break from the busy life at school as a result of heightened precautions put into place on campus due to COVID-19. Scout is staying at home with her owner, counselor Carole McPherson.
Scout used to wander the halls of LASA and visit classrooms to lower the stress of students. Now, according to McPherson, she spends her time very differently, mostly just sleeping.
“She’s 13, so that’s pretty much it,” McPherson said. “But she has come to the front yard almost every night…she meets all the neighbors when they come over, and she rolls around. She likes to roll in the grass and she frolics around and chews on a stick.”
It’s been a while since most students have seen Scout and since Scout has interacted with the students. COVID-19 has made it more difficult for them to have any sort of interaction.
“She’s seen a couple of students,” McPherson said. “When I have my advisory and I’m working from home, they see her through Zoom.”
Junior Olivia Ashy is one of the many students who misses being able to see Scout in the halls at LASA. She explained that there is something about Scout’s presence that is really calming.
“Something that I probably miss most about not having Scout with me in the same building is…you never know when you’re going to see her,” Ashy said. “You could walk around the corner, and it just brightens your day. I also have two dogs but they’re not therapy dogs. Scout’s just really calm all the time, and my dogs can be kinda crazy sometimes and not exactly therapeutic. Scout is really a calming presence that I miss having with me at school.”
Junior Hanna Lou Rathouz expressed similar feelings around Scout. What she misses most about Scout is her ability to take away her stress and lift her mood
“Seeing her in the hallways and getting to pet her and it just being such a bright moment of your morning,” Rathouz said. “Just walking into that dreadful place called LASA and then being able to see a dog and being like ‘Yay!’ even if it’s right before a test or something.”
Despite not being able to see her in person, students like Rathouz still have their memories of Scout to help them make it through the day. According to Rathouz, even the little things like her cute accessories can make them happier.
“I just remember on the holidays, she’d wear a bunch of different bandanas, and it’s really adorable,” Rathouz said. “Also, when she would just come into classrooms and stuff like that, everyone clamors for her attention. It’s kinda funny but cute.”
Scout was there for the students when they needed her. According to Ashy, Scout was a big help when she first came to LASA.
“I remember that it was my second day of school at LASA as a freshman, and I was super stressed out because I had gone to a bunch of wrong classes on the first and second days,” Ashy said. “I was walking through the halls, and I saw Scout, and we just hung out for a little bit. She really calmed me down. It was really great to see her. That was my most memorable experience with her.”
LASA students, like both Ashy and Rathouz, really miss Scout, but are hopeful they will see her someday in the future. Scout is one of the many things that make LASA unique.
“[Scout] is just a part of LASA, a part of LASA culture,” Rathouz said. “So it’s just sad not being able to be a part of that.”