Staying in the family business; Windsor Central School’s newest therapy dogs

James, Ramona and Winnie are giving the term ‘family business’ a whole new meaning.
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Published: May. 12, 2022 at 7:22 PM EDT
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WINDSOR (WBNG) -- Therapy dogs in schools and the workplace have been growing in popularity in recent years, and that’s no different for Windsor Central School District.

Meet James, Ramona and Winnie; these three are giving the term ‘family business’ a whole new meaning.

“I saw the need that we need dogs in every building,” said WCSC Therapy Dog Program Leader Rhonda Ashley.

Ashley began Windsor’s program in April 2011 with her foundation therapy dog Riley.

In 2018, Ashley added 8-week-old Winnie.

Now, four years later, Winnie’s own puppies; 9-month-old Ramona and James are following in their mom’s footsteps.

“They get to see that Winnie’s offsprings are giving back too,” Ashley said.

With James at the high school and Ramona at the elementary buildings, they’re able to help a variety of kids daily.

“The dogs help kids with impulse control, it helps them regulate their behavior, it improves their cognitive ability, and it helps them with their reading because they can read to the dogs and dogs are unconditional and they don’t judge you when you make a mistake and say a word,” said Ashley.

While its been lots of laughter and puppy kisses, Ashely said the need for therapy dogs is more important than ever right now.

“There’s a gap in our kids learning right now because of the pandemic. Kids are struggling - emotionally especially. There’s a lot of trauma, there’s a lot of loss, and it’s just a great way to help our kids feel safe.”

However, no matter the difficulties, it’s about providing support at the end of the day.

“I just hope that the dogs continue to provide that support and that unconditional love that we all really, really appreciate,” Ashley said.

Both Ramona and James are working to become certified - that process takes approximately two years.

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