By Marlee Ginter

VACAVILLE (CBS13) — For many, petting a dog is the best therapy, but some students in Vacaville are learning that reading to them can be even better.

It’s storytime and 11-year-old Lexi Hanson has the most patient listeners of all — 11-year-old rescue dog Obadiah and guide dog in training Julianna. Together, the two make quite a therapy team for students struggling through distance learning.

“It (reading) made me feel more comfortable than just being in a room of people,” said Lexi.

“She gets really nervous in a classroom setting, so knowing that the dog is there is just a huge relief,” said Lexi’s Mom, Samantha.

Special Education teacher Laurie Vidt knows that science shows just petting a dog will lower your blood pressure. That’s why she would bring Elko, a black labrador retriever to school.  But when the school shut down, so did those visits. And before the kids could return to see him, Elko passed away. The 10-year-old pup died quickly from cancer.

Vidt didn’t want to let her students down when they needed support more than ever. She now brings Obadiah, or O-B, and Julianna to her virtual lessons.

“Throwing them an air hug or giving them a pat pat on the head, that’s something that can help all the kids,” said Vidt.

The kids at Sierra Vista K-8 get a special audience every day because although they can’t pet O-B and Julianna during distance learning, that doesn’t mean they can’t feel the love.

“It makes me feel happy,” said Lexi.

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“They really needed that. They missed them just like they missed their friends and missed their teachers.  And some of my kids are the ones that need that guidance the most and I want to be there for them,” said Vidt.

You can donate to Elko’s GoFundMe page to help Vidt support O-B and Julianna.

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