Jadyn & Josie

A Duo Making a Difference in the Local School Setting

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Jadyn Schutjer, Emmetsburg High School counselor, joined the school district in fall 2019, bringing along her certified therapy dog, Josie. Little did they know what an impact they would make in the school district and community with Jadyn’s skills and Josie's abilities.
“It’s a dream of mine to be able to take my dog to school,” said Jadyn. Josie has served as a certified therapy dog since July 2019, receiving certification through Pet Partners by completing a test in Iowa City. Just like anyone else, she must be recertified to stay up-to-date on her training.
Josie was born on a farm in Webster City in April 2017. Jadyn got Josie as a puppy at 16 weeks old, hoping that Josie would be able to be a therapy dog from the beginning. Graduating from the University of Northern Iowa for both her undergrad and her master’s degree in school counseling, Jadyn had the idea that her job and a therapy animal could easily go hand-in-hand.
Jadyn began exposing Josie to various elements, people, and places as a puppy. When Josie was old enough, she was taken to PetCo in Mason City, where she trained in puppy classes. After working with her for another year, she completed two-week obedience training at age two in July 2019. Eventually, she tested through Pet Partners and passed her therapy dog certification. In order to pass this test, Josie needed to be able to successfully complete 30 tasks.
For example, she needed to be able to walk past people and other dogs without reacting, or walk past a crowd without looking at them. She needed to be able to remain calm when receiving attention from someone with poor motor skills. She needed to be comfortable around wheelchairs, crutches, and walkers. She needed to be able to sit, stay, and look at her handler. Jadyn needed Josie to be able to stay even when she walked away.
Josie needed to be comfortable with varying emotions. She needed to react appropriately to distractions of any kind, and be an obedient listener. Many of these components require immense focus and many hours of patient training, which Josie has accomplished and continues to display daily.
Josie’s Role at
Emmetsburg Community School District
Josie has been “employed” as a therapy dog as long as Jadyn has been employed as a school counselor – since August 2019. They will both begin their fourth year with the district in the fall.
Josie provides support for the students and the staff at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. She is available for all kinds of events and moments during the school day. She’ll wander around the school, join kids when they need a break, help regulate the emotions of students, read with the elementary students, serve as a reward when students accomplish tasks, and provide a calming presence to groups large and small.
Josie gets very excited to be at school each day. She’ll whine with excitement when they pull up to the school, and she’ll want to carry a toy to show everybody when she enters the building. She loves going to the nurse and visits the food service workers during their breaks. The students are concerned about Josie if she is not at school on any given day, and wonder what she’s up to in the summer when school is out.
Josie the therapy dog is a friend to everyone in the school. “She’s been a blessing. I thank the district for letting me have her here. Without their support, I wouldn’t have this opportunity,” expressed Jadyn.
Clarifying Common
Misconceptions
At times, there may be misconceptions about the differences between therapy animals and emotional support animals. To clarify, emotional support animals are meant for a specific individual to have in their home, intended to be assigned to one with a diagnosis that benefits from this kind of support. A therapy animal, like Josie, is trained to support anyone.
What also distinguishes therapy animals like Josie from service animals or emotional support animals is that therapy animals cannot live in-house in locations with “no pet” policies like service animals and emotional support animals are allowed to. Josie would also not be allowed in restaurants or other public spaces like service animals or emotional support animals, which are both intended for the individual.
Another major distinction is that therapy dogs like Josie can be given affection from anyone, while service animals and emotional support animals are not to be petted unless given permission from the handler. Service animals and support animals often wear vests to indicate this, while therapy animals like Josie wear bandanas or something more casual, which signify that she is able to be petted by anyone.
If ever approached by a service dog without its owner, follow the dog. It could save the owner from danger. All three of these roles – therapy animals, emotional support animals, and service animals – live out immensely important roles that can greatly improve and even save human lives.
Serving Many
Josie is able to serve hospitals, libraries, airports, nursing homes, schools, and is even able to go on rescue missions. In the occurrence of major tragedies, therapy dogs may be called in from various locations to provide support.
“We are the members of a crisis team. We are the only ones within 6 hours of Emmetsburg in Iowa,” explained Jadyn. This rare service makes an impact in big ways.
For example, Jadyn and Josie attended the funeral of a five-year-old boy and his mother who had both passed away in early November in a fire in Garner, Iowa. Jadyn received a call from the Pet Partners Crisis Team explaining the family’s request, and they were able to provide a comforting presence, particularly for the young children attending the funeral.
Special Companions
Just like people, dogs have the capacity to be a “good” or “bad” match for any task, job, or relationship. However, anyone who interacts with Josie can clearly see that she is meant to serve as a therapy dog. She is gentle, loving, and has personality and spunk that makes her a fun fit for the school setting she works and lives in with Jadyn.
Jadyn is always looking for more things to do with Josie to expose her to new environments and to continue utilizing her skills to the benefit of others. If you would like to book Josie for an event, please email Jadyn Schutjer at jschutjer@e-hawks.org. The duo would be more than happy to provide support.

WORKING AS A TEAM -- Jadyn Schutjer, handler, and Josie, therapy dog, have been inseperable since Josie was a puppy. Knowing she would work as a guidance counselor, Jadyn had the idea of getting Josie certified as a therapy dog from the beginning of their journey together. -- submitted photo

JOSIE -- Josie the therapy dog has served the Emmetsburg school district since fall of 2019, providing joy and comfort to students and staff of all ages. She even has her own school photo.
-- submitted photo

TIME WITH THE KIDS -- Josie, therapy dog at Emmetsburg Community School District, enjoys spending time with the students at West Elementary, helping them regulate emotions, take breaks, give the students something to look forward to when they accomplish tasks, and serve as an educational opportunity for students. Above, high school guidance counselor/Josie’s handler, Jadyn Schutjer, is happy to let the students give Josie some love. -- submitted photo

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