PORTLAND, Ore — Inside Dana Miller’s French class at Franklin High School there is a sense of comfort, a calming presence unlike anything you’ll find in other high schools.
Meet Archie: Ms. Miller's 13-year-old Labradoodle. He is the most popular boy in school. He’s got a spot in the yearbook and his own staff ID card. He even has an Instagram!
“It’s comforting to know that he’s there,” said Charlotte Johnson, a freshman in Ms. Miller’s French class. “He’s really unique to our school and that’s really special.”
Archie has become Franklin High School’s unofficial mascot. Archie can’t walk down the halls without being stopped, pet and loved on every few seconds.
“It’s pretty funny. Like every morning I come in the building and walk through the halls and the kids are like, 'Archie, Archie, Archie, Archie!’ And every once in a while I get a 'Hi ,Ms. Miller’. But, yeah, I know my place," Miller joked.
Archie steals the hearts of staff and students every day, year after year for the past five years.
“He’s the kind of dog people are drawn to. People want to pet him wherever we go because he’s just so sweet,” Miller said.
Because of his calm and gentle nature, Miller got him certified as a therapy dog in animal assisted interactions through an organization called Pet Partners.
When Franklin High School wanted to start a class for kids dealing with anxiety, the principal at the time turned to Miller and Archie, knowing the pup was certified.
“They said, ‘Would you bring the dog in for that?’ I’m like, sure! So we brought him in for that and it kind of spread like wildfire. Then he started working with a lot of our special ed kids,” Miller said.
He began working with kids like Rhiain Moore, who says Archie makes her and her classmates feel loved. They take Archie on a walk every day around Franklin High’s Southeast Portland neighborhood - even when it's raining and cold.
“Archie is a really lovable dog and he loves to hang out with people,” Moore said. “He likes to watch out for you.”
Archie quickly became a utility tool around school after Miller started bringing him every day. But she didn’t foresee him turning into the high school’s long-term therapy dog.
“It’s kind of like Archie on Demand,” Miller said with a smile.
When he’s not sleeping under her desk in her classroom, he’s scheduled to be in other classes throughout the day.
“He’s at certain classes certain times of the day, but if not, he’s just in my room. Kids come to get him, they come to see him or if a certain student is struggling and having a bad day they will come take him for a walk,” Miller said.
Every student's need varies depending on what they are going through, but Archie seems to be able to help soothe them. Archie helped one student in special education settle his anger.
“Every day he would check in with his teacher, come get Archie and he would spend about a half an hour with him and he would go with the janitor to raise the flag, deliver mail, do some jobs. Then he could feel when he was calm, he would bring Archie back and he would be fine," Miller said.
Some kids just drop by to give him cuddles. Archie’s comforting and calming presence spreads throughout the halls of Franklin High School every day, year after year.
"It’s amazing the benefit he’s had for so many of our kids. Even at our staff meetings he just goes around, says hello to everybody, mooches a little. He knows who has snacks,” Miller said. “I know it’s an unusual situation and I think… we had an administration that was really fighting for him because they saw the benefits that he does. And part of it is he’s just the perfect animal.”