Launched in 2010, our Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum uses the natural affinity between kids and pets to teach social-emotional learning (SEL) skills like empathy, self-confidence, teamwork, and decision-making. At the same time, we’re showing students that shelter pets make the best family companions, and that all of us — including kids — have the power to make a positive difference in our communities and in the lives of homeless animals.
The Curriculum was developed by Yale University’s School of the 21st Century and The Pet Savers Foundation™ (the program development arm of North Shore Animal League America), with initial funding for Pre-K through Grade 12 from the Cesar Millan Foundation. Today, the Curriculum, which is used in schools, afterschool programs, special education settings, and other venues, offers additional versions: “Mutt-i-grees in the Library,” “Cats Are Mutt-i-grees 2,” “The Shelter Guide,” and “Paws Down Tails Up,” a physical fitness application.
Research has shown that, by bridging the fields of humane education and social and emotional learning, this popular Curriculum (teachers love it, too!) has the potential to enhance student achievement at all grade levels. Equally important, it inspires kids to become caring, responsible citizens who see the link between a civil society and the humane treatment of animals.
Comfort Dog Program Introduces Lux
We are very excited to participate in the NYC Department of Education’s Comfort Dog Pilot initiative in partnership with the North Shore Animal League America. Lux, a black and tan terrapoo (half breed of a terrier and poodle) from Tennessee. Lux is a hypoallergenic medium-sized, friendly dog who loves being around children. He joined our faculty in September 2017.
Our school comfort dog is included in classroom lessons on social-emotional learning, resiliency, and human-animal interaction. We also provide children with the chance to interact directly with our school comfort dog for more individualized social-emotional learning opportunities. For example, students who have counseling sessions would be offered the opportunity to interact with the comfort dog to help meet their counseling goals for social-emotional performance (e.g., socialization and communication). Lux is also used as part of our school’s crisis intervention protocols; examples of school-based crisis intervention may include behavioral crisis de-escalation and bereavement assistance.