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Cloverport Schools Guidance Counselor Runs 5K with Service Dog

Delilah is ready for the 5K to help with autism. Guidance Counselor Danielle Akridge works with students in Cloverport.

Guidance Counselor at Cloverport Schools Danielle Akridge and her service dog, Delilah, attended the 5K Run & Walk in downtown Hawesville on Saturday, October 21st, a benefit to raise money for Autism Advocates of Hancock County, with Domtar matching all proceeds.

“I love to support any organization that supports autism and any kind of special needs organization,” Danielle said. “I want to always try to do my part. I try to hit any of them that are really local, if there are any kind of fundraisers. I really like to support the special needs, and that’s probably the counselor in me.”

How Delilah became a Therapy Dog

“Delilah is my pet and she’s also a therapy dog,” Danielle said. “She comes to work with me 3 or 4 days a week. At Cloverport Schools, we’re in our second year of our therapy dog program. That’s working out really well. We started it in December of 2021, so Delilah only did about half a year the first year. We’re right at about the 2 year mark of her being in the school.”

Delilah is a mixed breed. Danielle says she has walker coonhound and some lab. She was gifted Delilah when she was a puppy, a Christmas present from her husband, Todd, in 2020. “He surprised me with her. We learned about the therapy dog program and we wanted to see if she qualified once she was a year old, because they have to be a year old. She qualified and we started with the program.

I had learned about the therapy dog program from another counselor at a conference. She had gone through Pawsibilities Unleashed in Frankfort.

I called them and talked to them. Delilah was right about at a year old when I called. They said age-wise she was fine, and that I would have to take her in for an evaluation and if she demonstrated the right temperament then we could proceed with classes so that’s what we did,” she said.

“When she passed the first one, we went back every Saturday for six weeks. We would go through a training and then work on stuff all the next week until we went back. She passed the test and received her certification, and I keep liability insurance on her through the Pawsibilities Unleashed Program.”

Visiting Hospitals

Danielle said in order to bring Delilah to school as a therapy dog for guidance counseling, she knew she had to get it approved by the Cloverport Independent School District Board of Education, but that she had decided she wanted Delilah to become a therapy dog either way because she knew she wanted to take her into hospitals and nursing homes one day to help bring comfort there.

“Even if she was just one that I would go into the hospitals with,” she said. “That’s something we eventually want to do, is visit hospitals and nursing homes. So I went ahead and took a chance and then I presented to the board at a board meeting, once she was certified and I had all of the paperwork. They approved it and didn’t have any problems at all with it. They’ve been really pleased with it and having her in the building. She’s really used to being around the kids.”

When she has time, Danielle said she will begin slowly acclimating Delilah to the environment of hospitals and nursing homes, so that she can then start bringing her in to cheer up the patients. Delilah has brought much comfort to the children at Cloverport Schools, and she will, no doubt, be an angel dog for those at the hospitals.

Danielle is in her third year as K-12 Guidance Counselor at Cloverport Schools. Prior to that, she taught middle school science for 9 years. Her husband, Todd, is the Broker & Partner for Americana Real Estate and Auctions in Harned, KY. Danielle & Todd Akridge live in between Hardinsburg and Cloverport. They are both originally from Breckinridge County.

By Jennifer Wimmer

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