HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - At La Pietra-Hawaii School for Girls, the center of attention is the canine on campus.
The five-year-old Havanese named Flynn is a comfort and therapy dog ― and a four-legged form of stress relief.
“He came and ate lunch with me the other day. It really was fun because me and my friends were just playing with him.” student Hunter Garcia said.
Paula Wilton, a teacher who works at the Hawaii Center for Children and Families office on La Pietra’s campus, got Flynn when he was 8 weeks old and started training him for her school on the mainland.
"He has a calming effect," she said. "A lot of people would think that he would make the school or the classroom crazy and have the kids all excited. It's actually the opposite."
La Pietra tried canine therapy last year as a short pilot project with a dog named Baylee. It worked.
Flynn came on board this year.
Head of School Josh Watson said he’s considered part of the school’s counseling team.
"It's a reminder of the bigger world and a reminder not to get so stressed out, as the kids call it, over the next quiz or the next thing that's coming up," he said.
Student Hannah Dillon said it’s normal to find Flynn surrounded by a group of girls as he strolls the campus and visits classrooms.
"Sometimes school's kind of chaotic so when you play with him it gives you a chance to calm down," she said.
Flynn has been taught to accept a lot of attention and handling and to remain calm.
“He takes away your stress,” Garcia said.
On the mainland, more and more schools are trying out therapy dogs to calm students. It also helps the staff.
"It's proven that petting a dog reduces your stress level," Wilton said.
"The girls have gotten to know him and they like having him around," Watson said.
Flynn is busy. He’s at La Pietra three days a week and at Mid-Pacific Institute two days a week.