The newest member of Badin High School doesn’t say much but she’s a great listener, especially when you rub behind her ears.
Rudy is the Hamilton school’s first therapy dog and in the few weeks she has been on the job she has already proven to be both popular and effective, said school officials.
Still a growing pup weighing in at 38 pounds, Rudy stays mostly in the Catholic school’s counseling office during the school day but takes periodic walks through the halls and pops into classrooms for pre- and post-testing stress relief for students.
Medical studies have long shown that petting and interaction with dogs lowers the blood pressure of both a human and the animal.
Counselor Angie Bucheit has in her office one of the two beds Rudy uses to nap between bringing calm and joy to students.
“Some people thought that Rudy would be a distraction in the halls at school, but actually you wouldn’t know she is here because she is so well trained and does her job really well,” Bucheit said of her canine co-worker.
Bucheit should know better than others. Rudy, who is a 6-month-old Australian labradoodle, stays with her family overnight and during weekends.
During Badin’s summer break, the dog will spend her days at the Hamilton Police Department, bringing her therapeutic gift of a calming presence to that inherently stressful organization.
Badin junior Gianna DeCello recently spent part of her study hall in the counselor’s office and took a few minutes to sit with Rudy on the floor.
“She really makes everyone feel better if they are having a bad day. They can just come in here and see her,” said DeCello. “And it’s a lot easier, if you are trying to talk to someone, if she is there with you.”
Rudy is the first therapy dog at Badin.
The western Hamilton school is Butler County’s only Catholic high school — Fenwick High School is along the eastern border of Middletown in Warren County — and has seen enrollment increases in recent years.
The school had 449 students during the 2009-2010 school year and enrolls 575 this school year, with officials expecting more than 600 students for the 2018-2019 school year.
Rudy was paid for by a grant and private donations, which cover her veterinarian expenses, food and grooming.
The canine experiment is going well, according to Bucheit.
“Students love Rudy. Actually the whole community loves Rudy, no matter where I’m at, whether it be a baseball game, clubs or even if I’m just at a park,” she said.
“Everyone knows Rudy, so she is kind of a celebrity already,” Bucheit said.