Houseparents And Pets In Homes program

Homes are always happier when one of the members of the family walks on four legs, right? We sure think so!

St. Joseph’s is proud to have the Houseparents and Pets In (HAPI) Homes program on campus. The program launched in 2017 with three dogs. We are happy to say the program gets a little “HAPI-er” every year, and keeps expanding over time.

Research shows dogs support psychological growth while increasing social skills and self-esteem in children. They provide emotional support and may decrease anxiety, which in turn has the potential to increase overall academic achievement.

“We’ve seen students who have a hard time speaking to adults or other children open-up to a dog,” said Maija, the HAPI Homes program coordinator. “Over time, that communication the student has with the dog spills over to others in the home and classroom. Before you know it, that quiet kid you worried about is a leader in his or her home and classroom … and it started with a dog.”

HAPI Homes also teaches students the responsibility that goes into caring for an animal.

Not just any four-legged friend gets to come to St. Joseph’s Indian School. Houseparents or other staff members personally own the dogs at St. Joseph’s. The dogs must meet strict guidelines to test their temperament and have documentation to prove they are up-to-date on their shots. A local K-9 police officer must deem the dog fit to be around children. If they are declared a “good citizen”, they can come to campus and visit homes and classrooms on a leash. Dogs and students are never alone together.

Let us demonstrate, with an example of a situation that happened right here on campus.

After venturing downstairs in his pajamas, a St. Joseph’s student explained to his houseparent that he could not sleep. Every time he closed his eyes, he said he could see scary red eyes on the side of his closet.

After taking the student back up to his room, the houseparent returned shortly after with Sarge, the resident HAPI Homes dog, to look around. After Sarge deemed the room safe, the young boy was able to relax and slept soundly for the rest of the night.

It can be difficult for little ones to be away from home — especially when they first arrive at St. Joseph’s. Having a comforting presence that comes from a dog can be truly beneficial.

“The transformations are incredible,” said Maija. “We’re so happy to have more dogs on campus now. It’s a lot of fun to see the kids interact with them.”

Sadie Mae
Sadie Mae
Hey, there! I’m Sadie Mae and I am a Staffordshire Terrier who loves belly rubs and giving kisses. I’m so excited to meet new people that my whole body wags!
Lani
Lani
Hello, my name is Lani and I am a Shih Tzu. I am friendly. I love people and tummy rubs! My hobbies include chasing plastic bottles, going on walks and visiting the elderly in nursing homes.
Finn
Finn
Hi, everyone! I’m Finn and I am a Morkie. I won the Top Dog award in 2020 and wore the crown proudly! I love to play fetch, go on long walks and snuggling. I am so happy to be at St. Joseph’s!
Andy
Andy
Hey, y’all! Andy here! I’m a Yorkshire Terrier who likes to cuddle, play fetch and may be the next contestant on “Dancing With the Stars” because I’ve got moves!
Sarge
Sarge
At ease, soldier! My name is Sarge and I love going for walks, getting treats and hanging with the kids at St. Joseph’s!
Zoë
Zoë
Hello everyone, my name is Zoë! I’m Yankton Sioux and have many relatives at St. Joseph’s. I love to run, play fetch, cuddle and eat treats!
Phoebe
Phoebe
Hi! I’m Phoebe, a rescue pup who was malnourished when found. Nowadays, I eat everything I see! I sometimes eat a little too much, but I’m working on getting healthy. I’m so glad to be a part of the St. Joseph’s HAPI Homes program!
Whiskey
Whiskey
Hello, I’m Whiskey and I hope you all are well! I’m a Borderdoodle who loves playing in the river, playing fetch, and getting some belly rubs, ear scratches and snuggles. My mom is a nurse at St. Joseph’s and I can’t wait to make house calls to see some St. Joseph’s kiddos!
Sweetness
Sweetness
My name is Sweetness. I‘m a Bulldog. I like to eat, sleep most of the day and relax on the bed. I sometimes have to take a dreaded walk, so I hide when I hear my leash jingling. I like people, especially the kids at St. Joseph’s.
Dazzee
Dazzee
Woof! My name is Dazzee and I am a Dalmatian. I love walks and riding in the pickup on my way to and from St. Joseph’s Indian School. My dad works all over campus so I get to tag along on many adventures to see the kids who like to pet me — they go crazy for my cool spots! Their laughter makes my tail wag!
Bella
Bella
Did you say BISCUIT!? My name is Bella and I am a Poodle/Terrier mix! I spent most of my years in Minnesota (being a Viking’s fan), but Mom is training me to be a Packer Backer. I love the girls in my home but I have been known to try to steal some of their socks when they aren’t looking. I love belly rubs, walks and hunting for biscuits.
Hazel
Hazel
Hello, my name is Hazel! I am a Boxsky — that is a Boxer and Siberian Husky mix. I am my St. Joseph’s home’s mighty defender and protector. I take my job very seriously. The students and their trails of crumbs are my number one priority. If you take the time to get to know me, I will lovingly welcome you into the fold.
Hank
Hank
Howdy! My name is Hank. I am a Yorkshire Terrier. I have traveled all over the country in trains, planes and automobiles! I love my St. Joseph’s kids and know when it is time for them to come home from school. I love playing fetch and being held by anyone! I love snuggling up with the kids while they read me a book. If you see me on campus, I will gladly give you a kiss!

Yes! The šúŋkadog — has long played an important role in Lakota society and culture. Before the Spanish introduced horses in the 1700’s, the Lakota (Sioux) relied heavily on dogs for a variety of tasks.

Read more about The Dog.

Creating positive experiences for students that include animals is important. Along with the HAPI Homes program, St. Joseph’s Indian School has opportunities to take part in animal rescues. While not an official program, it gives the students a tremendous sense of pride to help an animal in need. You can read more about these experiences through the following stories.

Animal Blessing: Blessing the Four-Legged Who Bless St. Joseph’s

Student Animal Rescue Team Gives Old Dog New Life

Supplies Needed for Student Group that Rescues Unwanted Animals

Student Reflection: How I Changed a Dog’s Life