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Lily and Trey are the costume-wearing therapy dogs comforting students, teachers during pandemic

“When I’m feeling sad in class, when I’m feeling left out in class I just want to come and play with Lily and Trey,” third-grade student Torian McClary said.

ATASCOCITA, Texas — Monday is World Teachers Day. We know the job is less than ideal right now. But teachers like Lorrie Ogletree are innovators.

With a little creativity, Ogletree is making connections and providing comfort to all those students through her two dogs, Lily and Trey. With financial help from the Humble ISD Education Foundation, Ogletree was able to get her dogs extensively trained and certified to be therapy dogs.

The Maplebrook Elementary teacher takes her dogs to the Atascocita campus about three days a week. The dogs are helping to instill communication skills, patience and how to handle pets because some do not have pets at home. Students are learning how to interact with the dogs. It's the third year Ogletree has used Trey and Lily on campus.

Since they're therapy dogs, Trey and Lily are also used to help calm students who are in crisis when needed. Ogletree calls Lily and Trey Maplebook’s K-9 counselors.

The dogs officially began reporting for duty in October 2019. Perfect timing to gain experience ahead of these unprecedented times.

“You know, kids have just got so much on their plates right now, so a lot of times just having that distraction of being able to sit and have somebody just sit there and be so happy to see you and so excited. It really guides them and helps them with things that might be difficult or things that might be stressful,” Ogletree said of Lily and Trey.

“When I’m feeling sad in class ... When I’m feeling left out in class ... I just want to come and play with Lily and Trey,” third-grade student Torian McClary said.

“Our kids are exposed to and experiencing so many things and we want to be there for them and help them,” Ogletree said.

These dogs are tapping into moments that the rest of us might miss. And they make house calls to other campuses where only a scratch or a snuggle might do.

“Lily and Trey open that communication that otherwise we might not have had,” and bring new meaning to the term "teacher’s pet."

To all of the educators who are finding creative ways to comfort and connect with students, thank you!