New therapy dog to help Sunnyside students

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. — The newest student at Washington Elementary School in Sunnyside loves to play with toys, learn new things and play catch. He’s also the school district’s new therapy dog and a very good boy.

“Sam is a year-and-a-half old and he’s an F1B Goldendoodle,” Camp Doodle Woods owner Tracy Woods said. “He’s just an easy dog.”

Several teachers at different schools applied to have Sam — bred by Woods and trained by Mattox Dog Training Academy — donated to them to serve as a school facility dog, helping students, counselors and teachers.

“They provide comfort and excitement for the children,” Woods said. “They start going home and talking about him, they want to come to school, they want to spend time with him.”

Washington Elementary School teachers Jennifer Hunsaker was selected to have Sam join her family and classroom, though he’s available as a resource for the whole district.

“My classroom is a self-contained classroom grades 2 through 5, filled with special needs students,” Hunsaker said. “Some of my students have real social delays, so having Sam in our classroom’s really going to help build them, bringing them out of their shell and just having them be themselves.”

This is the second dog Woods has donated to a school district and she plans to do more, as much as she’s able. She said anyone interested in helping her bring more therapy dogs into schools can contact her at


READ: A place for plant lovers and bookworms opens in downtown Kennewick