• A “therapy dog” is a dog that has been individually trained and certified to work with its Owner to provide emotional support, comfort, companionship, and therapeutic interventions to others.

    Miss Toburen and her dog, Banjo, have participated in weekly training sessions for the past several months to become a certified therapy dog team. Banjo shows interest an excitement in interacting with children and adults while maintaining a calm and laid back demeanor suggesting a highly appropriate temperament for work as a therapy dog.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Who is the therapy dog team at BASD?

    Miss Toburen is the Prevention Specialist/Blended Counselor and Student Assistance Program liaison in the Berwick Area School District, providing a variety of prevention-intervention and counseling services to students across grade levels. Miss Toburen is the owner and handler of the Therapy Dog, Banjo. Banjo is a one and a half year old Catahoula Leopard Dog who has received and continues to receive many hours of training to prepare him for work as a Therapy Dog.

    Banjo is groomed and bathed regularly and vaccinations and flea treatment is maintained. If sick or injured, Banjo will remain at home and unable to provide services until he has recovered. When present in a school building, Banjo will be under the supervision of Miss Toburen and will not be left alone with students. Miss Toburen will educate students and model appropriate ways to interact with Banjo. Students are required to wash their hands before and after having contact with Banjo.

    What does a therapy dog do at school?

    Banjo will help to nurture a safe and supportive school environment in the Berwick Area School District. He can provide motivation, support, comfort, encouragement and reinforcement to students for a variety of social-emotional, behavioral, and academic goals. For example, Banjo can lend an ear when an emerging reader wants to share a book, he can help improve attitudes towards school to improve attendance, comfort students who are struggling with grief or loss, teach responsibility, and be a friend to a child that has been bullied. When petting a therapy dog, research has proven that the human brain releases oxytocin, effectively reducing stress and anxiety. Banjo will serve as a companion and listen without judgment. He cannot wait to help students reach their goals!

    I’m worried about allergies; how will this be addressed?

    Miss Toburen coordinates with each building nurse, so that we are aware of students who may have allergies to dogs. Before Banjo enters a school building, Miss Toburen ensures that he is clean and brushed. Students are also required to wash their hands before and after having contact with Banjo and he will not be present in classrooms unless it is a scheduled activity. In these circumstances, precautions will be taken to alleviate allergy concerns. Your child is important! We will take proper precautions to avoid any negative reactions.

    Please contact Miss Toburen at 570-759-6400 extension 3105 if you have any questions or concerns about Banjo, your child’s allergies, or if you would like to waive contact between your child and Banjo.