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Student’s K-9 companion joins Hiawatha High

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5a6b44b6ca048Junior Alisha Barnhart loves on her K-9 companion, Trevor, with big smiles.
Junior Alisha Barnhart loves on her K-9 companion, Trevor, with big smiles.

USD 415 recently gained a new member of the family. Trevor, a chocolate lab that is also a service animal, was adopted by Alisha Barnhart, a junior at Hiawatha High, and her mom, Jodi Lee. On December 27, Barnhart and her family traveled to Cameron, Missouri to adopt Trevor from the Western Missouri Correctional Center.

Barnhart struggles with post traumatic stress disorder, one of the symptoms of which is panic attacks. At the age of six years old, Barnhart was sexually abused, and the suffering still lingers on.  

Trevor has been through basic obedience training with the inmates at the correctional center. Barnhart is currently working on training Trevor at home as well, and will soon get a professional trainer to make sure everything is going smoothly with Trevor's training.

Training Trevor entails giving him treats when he deserves praise, or using a clicker to let him know he is doing a good job. The canine is being trained to help calm Barnhart when she is nervous or having a panic attack. Trevor will paw at Barnhart to let her know that everything is okay.

Trevor is an emotional support dog. When he is wearing his vest, which indicates that he is “on duty,” it is very important for students and staff to simply leave him be.

“I want my peers to know that throwing food at him or petting him isn't the best because he is in training.” said Barnhart. “During fourth hour and advisory I take off his vest and put his collar on, I let my classmates pet him because I still want him to be a social dog.”

Barnhart has a goal of not needing Trevor as a service dog anymore by graduation, though if she does not meet the goal, she says, that is okay. She will continue to use Trevor as an emotional support dog until she is comfortable enough to keep him simply as a pet.