When Merlin walks into a classroom at the Oak Grove Primary Building, he is sure to put a smile on any child’s face.

When Merlin walks into a classroom at the Oak Grove Primary Building, he is sure to put a smile on any child’s face.

“He just has this sense,” said Principal Laura Oyler at the Oak Grove Board of Education meeting Monday. “He just knows which student is most in need and will go directly to them and sit down. He knows when kids need positive reinforcement.”

Oyler spoke about Merlin, a therapy dog owned by the speech language pathologist at the Oak Grove elementary school. He is a 9-year-old Labrador retriever, who has received more than 1,500 hours of training as a therapy dog. A nonprofit organization, CARES in Concordia, Kan., completed Merlin’s community access training, which includes going into malls, stores or restaurants.

“He always knows who needs him the most,” Oyler said. “I believe there should be an initiative for every school to have a therapy dog.”

Merlin, who was described as a “regular staff member,” visits classrooms all day or in half day sessions throughout the week. Oyler said his purpose is to not only comfort students who are upset, but he walks with students to speech class. In addition, students practice their speech and reading skills by reading “with him” or to him during sessions.

Board members liked the idea of such a dog in the school setting.

“I think we need to arrange for Merlin to visit one of our board meetings,” said board member Sue Alexander. “This sounds like a great idea for the students and staff.”