Therapeutic support can come in many forms including from furry friends, such as Harley, who graces North County Academy (NCA) in Carlsbad with his playful hop and irresistible cute face! Learn more about Harley and the impact he has on Center youth below.
Fun Facts About Harley, 1 ½ year-old Goldendoodle
• A teddy bear face! People always comment that Harley looks like a stuffed animal teddy bear or Chewbacca from Star Wars.
• Harley is smart, a little too smart! When Harley doesn’t get his way on something, he will turn his back to you and pout. Then, if Harley doesn’t think you notice him, he will get up, turn again and make a louder pouty noise so that he makes sure someone notices him!
How Harley Arrived at NCA
“I didn’t want to socialize with anyone when I came to NCA. But, after I started working with Harley, I became more social and didn’t feel afraid talking to other students.” – Center Youth
Harley is owned by Talin Yesaie, our amazing NCA Program Manager. Harley passed his good citizenship test on December 17, 2017 and has been on our Carlsbad program site ever since. The original plan was not to bring Harley so young, but after bringing Harley for a day to meet the students, they fell in love with him and asked for him every day.
How Harley Helps Center Youth
“When I’m not ready to share with my therapist, I can tell Harley what I’m feeling and he won’t say anything. It makes me feel relieved and takes a lot of the weight off my shoulders.” – Center Youth
Harley is loved by many students that he has his own calendar! Harley is requested either as a reward, or when a student is in distress or unresponsive. During therapy sessions, Harley teaches students about energy, body language, and how our brains respond under stress.
Students will sit with Harley when they are feeling anxious, sad, lonely, or when they are talking in therapy, especially when they are discussing past trauma. There are also times when students will sit with Harley without speaking to anyone and just pet him, brush his hair or lay with him in order to feel soothed. Staff also enjoys spending time with Harley and it has completely changed the mood of the school. Harley helps to de-stress everyone!
In addition to providing therapeutic support and unconditional love to current NCA students, Harley also joins tours for prospective families and helps when students are hesitant to attend, which they are usually won over after meeting Harley. Harley leads the last part of tours when NCA team members show families our therapy offices and explain more about our offered school-based therapeutic services.
“It boosts my self-confidence in working with Harley and seeing the results of the change. I’m really good with animals and working with Harley has opened me to other areas where I am good at too. I just didn’t realize it before because I didn’t feel confident about myself.” – Center Youth
Jim was a 4th grader who was terrified of Harley when he first came onto campus and would not come near him, but would also request to spend time with him. Jim would sit with Harley in the room and keep his distance. He would throw treats and toys at Harley from afar. As the weeks went by, Jim began to get closer and engage more with Harley. Eventually they were able to be near each other. Jim could pet Harley and now has zero fear of dogs and enjoys running around the playground with him.