Simon and Bella progress at Fenton High

Riann Masi, Online Editor

Fenton High has added two dogs to their Fenton Tiger Paw Patrol team. The additions are Simon, a standard poodle who works with Sunny in the library and other classes, and Bella, a yellow lab retriever who is working in the Special Services Autism Program with special education teacher Todd Schroeder. Simon and Bella started training to become therapy dogs at the age of 11 weeks.

“Simon’s and Bella’s biggest challenge when becoming one of Fenton High’s therapy dogs was getting used to the school and how many students there were,”  Work-based Learning Coordinator Lindsay Grady said. “Simon was shy at first when trying to adapt to his new surroundings at the high school.” 

Simon and Bella have been roaming the Fenton Area Public Schools for approximately the past four months. In addition to Sunny, Fenton High’s first therapy dog, Simon and Bella comfort students in the hallways and visit classrooms throughout the day. 

“Bella being a part of the autism program helps students learn about body language,” Special Services Educator Todd Schroeder said. “She also helps the students learn about communication, having responsibilities and she has a ‘calming’ effect on the students.” 

Simon and Bella both turned one the week of Feb. 7. They had a birthday party in the Media Center with treats and a doggy cake. Sunny’s birthday was also celebrated with these two, as he turned two at the end of December. 

“Simon celebrated his first birthday on Feb. 11,” Grady said. “He shared the experience with his best friends Sunny and Bella. It was a great wrap to the week after Simon was recovering from a surgery he had in the beginning of the week, where he received a Gastropexy.” 

During the six-minute passing time, students can stop by the library to pet and say hello to Sunny or Simon, on the way to their next class.

“I love stopping by the library when I’m on my way to my next class,” senior Dylyn Nichols said. “It’s a comfort to know that they’re here for us when and if we’re stressed and need a release from the school’s atmosphere.” 

FHS has around 1,150 students— the choice to add two more dogs to Fenton High was based on how many students Fenton had. Sunny being overworked was also a concern. With the edition of Simon and Bella, some of the work load is lifted from Sunny. 

“It’s not uncommon for large high schools to have multiple therapy dogs,” Grady said. “When the dogs are at school they are constantly working— when Fenton High only had Sunny, he was exhausted— so adding two more let him take breaks and allowed him to be able to work with our students better.” 

Both Simon and Bella have different jobs during the day.  Bella mostly spends her time in the autism classrooms while Simon spends his time seeing kids in the library or hallways during passing time. The dogs have spent a lot of time together, but entering the school for the first time there were challenges for both Simon and Bella. 

“Simon’s day consists of a lot of love from the students and faculty,” Grady said. “Bella and Simon get along very well, but when transitioning into the school both dogs were very shy around so many kids coming up to them. Simon still gets shy sometimes, but he is getting the hang of how many kids there are in the school.” 

Students can stop by the library doors between any of their classes to say hello to either Sunny or Simon. Teachers can also request to have either Sunny or Simon in their classroom while teaching to help students destress. With two additional therapy dogs around the school, there is always the possibility of running into Simon, Sunny, or Bella throughout the day. 

To find more information on how Sunny, Simon, and Bella— along with the rest of the Fenton Tiger Paw Patrol— are doing, visit