Grant #396

Piedmont High School Therapy Dog Program

April 27, 2020

Feeling Anxious? A Nice Doggie Can Help You Calm Down Fast.

There’s nothing like the unconditional love of a furry friend to ease a troubled mind. Just petting a calm and friendly animal is known to lower blood pressure and heart rate. Maybe you heard that animal adoptions increased as millions of people stayed home to stop the spread of the coronavirus? Those who couldn’t adopt were willing to foster an animal for a while.

So you can understand why Joanna Ellis, one of five counselors at Piedmont High School in Monroe, North Carolina, wants to have a trained therapy dog at the school.

Piedmont has so many students with special needs, including diagnosis on the autism spectrum, physical challenges, and many individual differences in learning.

These days more teens than ever are being diagnosed with symptoms of anxiety, depression, and suicide ideation. Joanna and her colleagues are doing all they can for a student body of 1300, but she could use some four-legged assistance. She says, “We know therapy dogs support psychological well-being and academic growth, and interacting with a therapy dog can help increase social skills and self-esteem.”

A breeder who specializes in therapy dogs will be working on getting a Golden Retriever to Piedmont High, and our Awesome Without Borders grant will pay for the training classes needed in order for the pup to be certified as a therapy dog. There will be enough left over to pay for the necessities of dog life, including a crate, a leash, and in an AWB first, poop bags.

Are you inspired to consider bringing a therapy dog to your community? This school’s experience can help you avoid the rrrrruff spots.

Category: Animals, Children, Health, Youth



After 11+ years, we’re signing off and closing applications for good. We’ve supported 571 projects with $571,000 in grant dollars. We’re so proud to have celebrated such incredible work. Please visit for more information on other AWESOME chapters! And thanks for sharing so much awesomeness with us.

Team Awesome Without Borders