Phillips Avenue pup McAuley back for another school year

Smithtown Guide Dog Foundation, Phillips Avenue School
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Phillips Avenue principal Debra Rodgers (left) with black lab pup McAuley and puppy trainer Barbara Salmiery of Southold.

Classes in Riverhead Central School District start Wednesday.

But teachers and dogs reported for duty today, Tuesday.

Well, one dog.

Phillips Avenue Elementary School principal Debra Rodgers welcomed back McAuley, a guide dog in training from the Smithtown Guide Dog Foundation.

McAuley is being raised by school nurse Barbara Salmiery of Southold.

The female black lab had been coming to the school daily last Dec. 1, when she was just seven weeks old.

“Boy does she love kids,” Ms. Salmiery said. “When she hears a child’s voice she is at attention. She is so glad to be back at school.”

Ms. Salmiery said she had noticed McAuley was bored this summer, and that the socialization and handling the pup received at the school was important.

“I couldn’t have done it without Ms. Rodgers’ help,” she said.

The principal said the dog has totally changed the climate at the school, adding that the dog has a calming effect on the children.

McAuley should be done with the program in the early spring, when she is returned to the foundation for advanced training, ultimately to be placed with someone with disabilities.

Meanwhile, Construction on the new parking lot/ drop-off area in front of the school is complete, and construction on the new and enlarged, “21st century” library with more computer stations and specialized learning centers is under way.

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Phillips Avenue Elementary School, Riverhead School District
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Work under way at the new Phillips library.