LEWISBURG, WV (WVNS) — A ‘pup rally’ was held at Greenbrier East High School to introduce the school’s new therapy dog, an 11-month-old golden retriever named Ruby.

On August 29, 2023, the students of Greenbrier East High School were surprised with a pup rally where Governor Jim Justice, First Lady Cathy Justice, and Babydog introduced the school’s new therapy dog.

Ruby loves everyone she meets and is bound to brighten your day like Babydog does for my family. It is truly inspiring to see so many schools across West Virginia participating in our Communities In Schools program, and the First Lady and I cannot be more proud of this incredible program. We thank you all for welcoming Ruby with open arms, and I know she will be a beloved member of the Spartan family.

Governor Jim Justice

Ruby is a wonderful addition to Greenbrier East High School. I know she will make a big difference in the lives of the students. Jim and I are so proud to introduce Ruby to her new home today.

First Lady Cathy Justice

The faculty, staff, student body, school officials, Board of Education members, local dignitaries, and Communities in Schools of Greenbrier County gathered to welcome the specially trained pup to the school.

From the first time I met Ruby, I realized how much of a difference she will make in the culture of the school. Amidst students’ challenges, she’ll offer daily support and become an asset to the school. Her presence will bring such solace and peace to the students.

Jeff Bryant | Superintendent of Greenbrier County Schools

West Virginia’s statewide school therapy dog program, Friends With Paws is a Communities In Schools (CIS) West Virginia program and is a collaborative effort with Governor and First Lady Cathy Justice. The program itself is built around professional training methods and in-depth research.

Thirteen therapy dogs have been placed across the state by Friends With Paws since April 2022. Certified therapy dogs help give comfort and support to those who need it, and can help improve people’s moods, remove social barriers, relieve anxiety, and make people feel at ease. Therapy dogs are trained to ignore all distractions and help anyone when they need it, even in stressful environments.

These dogs are placed in schools in CIS counties that have students heavily affected by substance misuse, poverty, and other at-risk situations, and need the support of a therapy dog. These dogs give the students a way to deal with their trauma and other issues.

While Ruby went to Greenbrier East High School, twelve other therapy dogs got to go to their own schools:

  • Coal: a male Black Labrador, at Welch Elementary, McDowell County
  • Foster: a male Golden Labradoodle, at Buckhannon Academy Elementary, Upshur County
  • Jasper: a female Yellow Labrador, at Lewis County High School, Lewis County
  • River: a male Yellow Labrador, at Pineville Elementary School, Wyoming County
  • Shadow: a male Black Labrador, at Moorefield Elementary School, Hardy County
  • Jet: a male Yellow Labrador, at Spring Mills High School, Berkeley County
  • Kylo: a male Black Labrador, at Lenore PK-8 School, Mingo County
  • Winnie: a female Apricot and White Labradoodle, at Wayne Elementary School, Wayne County
  • Kasha: a female Yellow Labrador, at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, Pocahontas County
  • Marshal: a male Cream Labradoodle, at Hinton Area Elementary School, Summers County
  • Louie: a male Yellow Labrador, at Bridgeview Elementary School, Kanawha County
  • Oakley: a male Apricot and Cream Labradoodle, at Oakvale Elementary School, Mercer County

Ruby is the thirteenth therapy dog to be placed by the program, and wearing a green and gold bandana, she fits right in with the Greenbrier East Spartans.