Leaving A Pawsitive Impact

Freshman Trinity Starks introduces a new service dog to Southwest

Although they are a part of one of the most fun-loving animal species, service dogs do much more than add that appeal. They are highly trained to protect and guide people in need of their service. Freshman Trinity Starks is introducing the second service dog the school has had since the mastiff in 2019. It’s here to provide support for Starks as she deals with frequent seizures.

Senior peer tutor Ellie Loffredo said one of the most important jobs the dog does for Trinity is help sense when her body is having a medical issue. 

“I think that it’s really going to help her and everyone in the class to know when she’s not doing too well,” Loffredo said. “Especially when she can’t communicate that to us.” 

Starks said even if the dog can detect a problem one minute earlier than a teacher, or someone else in the room, it makes all the difference.

“If I have a seizure, the dog will just come to help by barking and all that,” Starks said. 

Loffredo said the dog being able to sense and alert others about what might be going on gives a sense of comfort for Starks and her loved ones. 

Loffredo said the classroom dynamic will definitely be changed when the service dog arrives.

 “For the other students in class, it’s going to take some adjusting and some learning to get them situated with the service dog,” Loffredo said. “We’re learning about it in my peer tutoring class, just so that we’re a little bit more educated on being able to know how to interact with Trinity and the service dog.” 

Loffredo said not only will the students of the classroom need some adjusting, but so will all of the other students at Southwest. 

“I think that if there’s a vest on the dog that says it’s a service dog, students will understand that it’s not a dog that you can just go up and pet,” Loffredo said.

Most, if not all, students have had at least one time when they’ve been in the presence of a service dog. It’s all about respecting Starks and the dog’s boundaries. 

This new addition to the school’s environment will be something students need to be cautious and understanding of. Overall, the dog will be beneficial to Trinity, her health, family and classroom peers.

“I’m excited that our family is getting another dog,” Starks said. “She’s a princess.”