Breaking News
More () »

Lakes Stevens Middle School students help train puppy to be a future service animal

Students say Havana, the 15-week-old golden lab mix, is providing them with some stress relief as well.

LAKE STEVENS, Wash. — Getting motivated for a Monday in middle school is no simple task, but it gets a whole lot easier when there's a puppy there.

Havana, a 15-week-old golden lab mix, is the newest addition to Hanna Herkert's class at Lake Stevens Middle School.

Havana is a major stress reliever for students who have been through an awful lot over the past few years.

"I had really bad depression and anxiety," said 13-year-old Izy Nelson.

The 7th grader had two relatives die from COVID-19. Havana is helping her heal.

"Coming into this class and having Havana here releases your stress and lets you have the best day ever," Izy said.

While Havana is certainly helping kids learn life lessons the kids are actually teaching her, as well.

The students are working with Canine Companions to turn Havana into a full-fledged service animal.

They're teaching her basic commands, socializing and potty training her. After 18 months of training at Lake Stevens Middle, she will graduate to full-time service animal school and be placed with a person with disabilities.

Sixth grader Calvin Newman says he'll miss Havana terribly when it's time for her to go, but he understands she has a job to do.

"I definitely feel proud that she'll be able to help people who really need it," Calvin said. "It'll be really nice to know that she's helping someone out there."

Taking care of a puppy is also teaching the kids about responsibility and confidence.

"I want them to know they have an impact," said teacher Hannah Herkert. "If they are working hard, focused, and they come together as a team, they can grow Havana and every day they get to see what they've done."

No more unmotivated Mondays here thanks to a faithful, fuzzy friend spreading a message of courage and healing.

Before You Leave, Check This Out