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Meet the Therapy Dog Named After St. Patrick

Every Wednesday, as students stream into St. Patrick High School in Chicago, a staff member greets them inside the front doors. The staff badge hanging down from his unshaved neck includes a headshot and, in bold letters, “Pat.” He wears a green St. Pat polo shirt. His hair is a “bit scruffy on the top of his head — like some of our students,” says another staffer, Meredith Santucci, the school’s director of special events and marketing coordinator.

But Pat is 3 years old, weighs 35 pounds, stands 12 inches tall and wags his tail when greeting friends — which includes, practically speaking, nearly all the 501 students at the school as well as staff. A goldendoodle, a mix of a golden retriever and a poodle, the white-haired Pat is a therapy dog.

Student after student pets Pat, who likes to roll over and get petted on the tummy. “Hey, Pat, how you doing?” says a burly senior, a football player. Another senior, Tom Lawler, who hopes to attend West Point, is especially fond of Pat. “It’s just great to see him. He lifts the spirits of everyone. He is our morale dog.”

Since 2022, Pat has been a fixture at St. Patrick, which opened in 1861 and is the city’s oldest all-male Catholic high school. He trots into classrooms, shares lunch tables with students (“They feed him fries — chicken, please,” says Melisa Moroko, his handler/owner and a school parent), chases tennis balls thrown by students in the courtyard, jumps into the pool with the swimming and water polo teams, and attends football and basketball games.

Pat is one of the guys — and one of God’s beloved creatures.

His lair is the library, where his green mat is. Students go there to do research, study and give Pat a pet or two. But Pat, truly Pavlovian, rarely sits still; he knows when students are due. “When the class bell rings, he runs to the library door,” says Moroko.

“He doesn’t care if you are captain of the football team or on the chess team. He shows love to everyone,” says Moroko. “At the end of the day, it’s about unconditional love. He embodies the family atmosphere we embrace at St. Pat’s.”

Read more at National Catholic Register 

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