Facility dog Mustang recently retired from Claymont High School due to some behavioral issues, but school officials say they've already got a replacement lined up to fill his role. (Submitted photo)

Uhrichsville, Ohio - Claymont High School’s facility dog has gone into early retirement, but school officials say students don’t need to worry because another companion is on the way.

Principal Amy Conn says Mustang, the school’s 2-year-old yellow lab, is taking a break from the classroom while he and his handler work on some behavioral issues. 

“He started occasionally barking at people when they came in the building, and then we had a complete behavioral assessment done by an animal behaviorist, and he suggested to us that Mustang is an alpha dog and not really cut out for the type of work that we were having him do,” she says.

Mustang began his role at the school this past spring, and Conn says students and staff benefitted from his presence.

"I think just overall, it makes everybody a little bit happier when they see a dog in the building but also part of his work was recognizing and reacting to anxiety," she says. "When students got elevated and very anxious, he knew just to lay his head on their lap or just lean his weight against them and that has a really calming effect, much like a weighted blanket or a weighted vest. He just happens to be a living version of that."

Conn says even though Mustang continues to live with his handler, teacher Heather Dotts, it was still devastating when he stopped coming to school.

“It was a real success and really a period of grief everyone had when we lost him," she says. "He’s alive and well and happy living in her home but for our school, it was a big loss."

Conn says they’ve already been approved for another facility dog, a female Golden Retriever named Aubrey from Freedom Paws, a Columbus-based nonprofit that breeds, trains and places service dogs.

"They have said she has a very calm and docile and even temperament, so she’s very submissive, which I think with Mustang, he was a little more rambunctious," she says. "That works fine in a home where they’re your pet. For this type of work as a facility dog, they need a little bit more of a docile, calm personality."

Conn says she and Dotts will travel to Columbus to meet Mustang’s replacement and make sure she’s a good fit. If all goes well, she should be able to start coming to school within the next couple of months.


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