LEICESTER, Mass. - In crowded hallways at Leicester High School, the assistant principal isn't the only one making morning rounds. You'll find four paws and a wagging tale behind her. 

J.D. starts his day like any other student or staff member. When the bell rings, its time for a different type of assignment. 

"Very, very tired high school students come in, some stop and say 'Good morning' to J.D.," assistant principal Beth Johnson said. "They will give him a little wave on the way by."

Johnson is his handler and said J.D. shines in the department of comfort. ​

"His role is chief happiness, really," Johnson said. "He really is the director of positivity around here." 

What You Need To Know

  • J.D. is a full-time service dog at Leicester High School 
  • Assistant principal, Beth Johnson, is the black lab's handler
  • He offers comfort to the student body, especially students with learning disabilities
  • After training, NEADS dogs are evaluated and placed where they'd perform best

The almost three-year-old black lab is the school's assistance dog. His day is never the same, it's always changing to fit the needs of students. 

"Sometimes we have students who are having a crisis and are feeling very stressed," Johnson said. "They will come in and ask if they can just visit J.D. for a little bit."

It works for students like Jenna Savoie, who said her anxiety made it hard to return to school after spending a year remote.

"I was nervous to go back to school this year, but I came because he was going to be here," Savoie said. "Whenever I am around him, I don't have any stress of any worries."

J.D. is a NEADS service dog. He is trained to help others and brighten the day, especially for students in the Living and Learning Center.

NEADS evaluates each dog to see where they will shine after training. J.D. always got good grades with people, and that's why he gets to go to school every day. ​