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Nola is a former honorable mention award winner in the AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence. She makes school very special for many students at a New Jersey school.

Since April 2012, Nola has served as the therapy dog for the Little Egg Harbor School District in the southernmost part of Ocean County, NJ. This is a rural community with a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students, many of whom live in difficult home situations. Nola is owned and trained by the district’s learning consultant, Ingrid Schillebeeckx-Rice.

“Her mere presence has helped calm, reassure and motivate the achievement of a wide variety of goals with students, specifically those with special needs,” said Carol Saker, the school district’s director of Special Services. “Nola proves to be a high motivator for decreasing school absenteeism, reducing school anxiety and overall academic motivation.”

An example of her work is a kindergartener who was too scared to get off the bus and now can’t wait to get to school to greet a tail-wagging Nola. The curly-coated canine also has assisted with the students’ written expression. She is the subject of 11 published books, all created by the students.

You would think that Nola would be worn out after a day spent with hundreds of children, but after hours she often visits an Alzheimer’s unit in a senior community near her home, where she brings much joy to the residents.

“Little Egg Harbor Township has its own hero in Nola,” Saker said.

You can read more about Nola and her special work at her website.

Mixed-breed dogs, like Nola, can now join the AKC Canine Partners community. AKC rewards qualifying therapy dogs with special titles. Get information on joining the AKC Canine Partners community.