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February 06, 2018 06:44 AM

Harley Helps Out At Hawthorne Elementary

Sioux Falls

It's common for classrooms to have a pet fish or hamster but how about a four-legged friend?

Since this past summer, Hawthorne Elementary Principal Stephanie Jones has welcomed a four-legged friend into the building. He's so small you may even miss him, but he's having a big impact on students at the school

Meet Harley. The resident Chihuahua who's been a student since the summer. 

"I had talked to our principal, Mrs. Jones, and I asked her would it be okay if we had a dog and she said yeah we could try it out," owner Chris Burke said. 

Burke works in the front office of Hawthorne, where Harley has a lot of visitors. 

"Kids can earn reading time with him, they can come down and feed him a treat, just last week we had one that got to walk him outside since it was so nice," Burke said. 

Although he's just a puppy and not even a trained therapy dog, teachers say Harley is helping kids jump start their reading abilities.

"The kids love reading out loud to him and he's not one to judge. He's not going to say 'Oh you spelled that word wrong or you did this wrong,' he just sits there and he listens to them," said Burke. 

And Harley's not just helping students. Everyone seems to smile a little bigger when they see the pint-sized pup.

"If kids are having a rough time they come down and you know just get a little snuggle time and staff as well just love to come in and have a little snuggle time with Harley and pet him," Burke said.

Burke says she plans to train Harley as a therapy dog once he gets a little older. 
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