Gus’ Triumphant Return

Lowell Smith

Staff Writer

   The Freeman Rebels can rest easy… Gus has returned.

  After a temporary hiatus, Douglas Freeman’s favorite dog is now back for more weekly visits. Gus had to leave so Freeman could to touch up the visiting process, making the scheduling and signing up more appropriate, as well as making sure Gus’s presence is safe for the students and staff.

  Gus has been Freeman’s response to helping increase mental health awareness across the county. He has been instituted as a certified therapy dog through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, and his owner, English teacher Dave Inman, has trained him to interact with students to relieve stress and anxiety.

  During class time, Gus stays in counseling to aid students throughout the day and he moves to a designated classroom during fourth period for his normal scheduled visits.

  During Gus’s time off, Henrico County Public Schools formulated a permission slip granting students the ability to see Gus. The permission slip highlights the physical, social, cognitive, emotional, and mental health benefits of interacting with a therapy dog. It also emphasizes that students may only visit Gus, “during their study block and/or after school – students are not permitted to sign up to see Gus during class time,” the slip said.

  The permission slip asks for a parent signature and must be turned into counseling as soon as possible. In-school counselor Renee Ferrell’s Schoology message says, “A pass will be sent to any student who signs up and has a permission slip on file and that pass will be your ticket into the session.”  

Hopefully everyone at Freeman can breathe a bit easier with Gus’ return.

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