Meg, one of two facility dogs employed by the Goshen Local School District, was named after the actress Meg Ryan.
Meg, a 2-year-old golden retriever, greets children, teachers and staff each morning at Goshen Middle School in Goshen, Ohio. Since joining the school as a trained facilities dog last year, Meg has played such an important role in the Goshen community that she is now considered a staff member in her own right. Like other Goshen staff members, Meg recently had the chance to pose for a yearbook photo. Meg is just as amiable as she appears, Meg's handler DeNu, who teaches math to seventh graders at Goshen, told Good Morning America. "The face you saw on her yearbook photo? That's her all the time," she said. Meg, one of two facility dogs employed by the Goshen Local School District, was named after the actress Meg Ryan.
Meg was taught to be a service animal by the group Circle Tail and has adapted very well to her position as a facility dog at the school, DeNu shares. "She was so social and had so much love to give, but yet still had this skill, they decided, well, she needs to be with a lot of people, she needs to be a facility dog for a school, and so that was how her career was made," DeNu, who also received training from Circle Tail. DeNu said that she brings Meg to school with her on weekdays. In the mornings, Meg will visit several classrooms and welcome everyone with what is known in the school as her "golden growl."
"She grabs her stuffy animal and she goes up and down in the seventh-grade hallway, every single teacher, and she just does like a little whine which says good morning to everyone," DeNu recounted. "I thought she was crying and then I looked it up. It's a thing golden retrievers do, called the golden growl and she only does it in the morning and she only does it when she's excited to see her teachers every morning."
In addition to Meg's regular visits to school classes and activities, Goshen students can scan a QR code and ask to see Meg, touch her or give her hugs during their school days. When DeNu is teaching, another handler, Jen Phillips, also transports Meg to other classrooms. According to a post by Circle Tail, a few teachers have used “Meg Passes” as incentives for students to earn. When they earn this pass, they get five minutes with Meg to just hang out with or play ball, and both are super excited to do this.
Meg interacts with middle school pupils receiving special education as part of her job. According to Wendy Flynn, principal of Goshen Middle School, Meg visits particular special education classrooms to support the students and work on their social skills. "We have Meg visit certain classrooms, for those students to support them and work on their social skills and they're helping to support them emotionally, which is great as well," she said.
DeNu and Flynn both agree that Meg has received overwhelmingly good feedback from Goshen students and staff thus far, and district employees intend to add a third service dog at a nearby school soon. "It all begins with trying to take care of the whole child and make a great learning environment for kids," Darrell Edwards, the superintendent of Goshen Local School District, said. "We know that a lot of kids in today's world, need a little extra support and a little extra care to remove any barriers to their academic learning, and Meg helps our whole team of staff do that."