Star, a gentle, huggable therapy dog, has become an integral part of the Abbot Elementary family

Meanwhile, Wines Elementary prepares to welcome the district’s second therapy dog next fall

Two years ago, just before the pandemic forced schools to pivot to virtual learning, Star the therapy Bernedoodle joined the Abbot community. Since then, she has become a well-loved addition to the school, as the video above and photo below show.

Meanwhile, the Wines Elementary community recently received exciting news in a letter from Principal David DeYoung, who wrote that the school would welcome a new “staff member” named Gracie next fall.

He wrote:

Gracie is a 6-week-old Bernedoodle puppy (part Bernese Mountain Dog, part Poodle). She will soon begin training to become a Certified Therapy Dog. This training will take between six to eight months to complete and once she is fully trained, Gracie will become a daily member of the Wines community. While the timeline depends on many factors, we expect Gracie to join us late next fall. 

Gracie was donated to us by Cindy Coleman of Michigan Mountain Doodles. We have elicited the services of professional dog trainer Greg Lambert. Greg will receive Gracie from Cindy next Friday, May 6, and begin her training. As we planned for adding a therapy dog to Wines, we worked closely with Abbot Elementary School who welcomed the Ann Arbor Public Schools’ first therapy dog, Star, in 2020. Cindy was Star’s breeder and Greg trained Star as well. Gracie will become the second therapy dog in AAPS! 

Using the same model as Abbot and other schools across Michigan and across the country, Gracie will live with a Wines staff member who will be a critical part of Gracie’s training. Her staff caregiver will bring Gracie to school daily. Many Wines staff were interested in this opportunity and Lexi Fata was ultimately chosen to be Gracie’s caregiver. Lexi and I held an all school Zoom this morning to introduce Gracie to the students. As you might expect, they were very excited! 


We have secured funding for the first part of Gracie’s training from our PTO which means we received support from our entire community through your participation and generosity at events like the Run-a-Thon, the Wines Auction, and via direct donations. We have also partnered with Dr. Andrea Burkhart of Vet on the Run who will provide discounted veterinarian services, The Groom Room which will provide grooming, and Wags to Wiskers Pet Supplies who will be supporting Gracie with discounted items as well. While we are very thankful for the initial PTO support and our partnerships, there will be ongoing fundraising needs and opportunities to support Gracie as she joins our community. More information on these needs and opportunities will be highlighted at a later time. 

The AAPS District News welcomes thoughtful comments, questions and feedback.

All comments will be screened and moderated.

In order for your comment to be approved:

  • You must use your full name
  • You must not use  profane or offensive language
  • Your comment must be on topic and relevant to the story

Please note: any comment that appears to be spam or attacks an individual will not be approved.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.