After venturing downstairs, a young boy explained to his houseparent, Trond, that he couldn’t sleep … every time he closed his eyes, he could see scary red eyes on the side of his closet.

After taking the student back up to his room, Trond returned shortly after with Sarge, the resident dog and sniffer-of-all-things-scary, to look around. After Sarge was only able to find a half-eaten hotdog in the garbage, the young boy was able to relax and slept soundly for the rest of the night.

Here at St. Joseph’s Indian School, we are extremely excited to announce that we have officially launched our HAPI (Houseparents And Pets In) Homes Program this year!

A St. Joseph’s Indian School student and Sarge, a HAPI Homes approved dog, became fast friends.

A St. Joseph’s student and his buddy, Sarge, are enjoying the new HAPI Homes Program that allows dogs to live on campus in select homes.


According to Harvard Medical School’s Special Health Report, Get Healthy, Get A Dog: The health benefits of canine companionship, having a dog can help people be:

  • More physically active
  • Calmer, more mindful and more present in life
  • More social and less isolated.

Dogs can be especially helpful for kids, helping them be more active, secure and responsible. Interacting with a friendly pet can help reduce blood pressure and encourages the release of endorphins from the brain, which produces a calming effect.

After piloting the program for the past few years and experiencing immense success, we look forward to expanding the program during our 2017-2018 school year!


We have some wonderful dogs participating in this year’s program. Here’s a quick introduction of a few of our brightest ‘superstars’:

Sarge is a seven-year-old American Bulldog-Boston Terrier cross. Sarge is proud to say he is an American Kennel Club certified Canine Good Citizen. Sarge was adopted from a rescue in Watertown, S.D., about seven years ago and has been enjoying life with his owners, Stephanie and Trond, ever since. Sarge is a quiet and relaxed dog that enjoys going for walks and hikes almost as much as he likes laying on the couch and taking a nap. Sarge gets along great with other dogs and children, and knows many human words like treat, sit, down, stay, shake, beg, wait, leave it and cross (for safely walking across the street).

Leevy is a Basset/Beagle/Corgi mix who loves to love and be loved. Although Leevy is eight-years-old, her puppy spirit is still alive and well! Leevy has quite a repertoire of tricks she will gladly show you for a treat or belly rub. Great at sensing if you are having a bad day or not feeling well, Leevy will be sure to stick by you to cheer you up and keep you company. One of Leevy’s best qualities is her soft hair — petting her can be quite therapeutic!

Layla is a Shitzu/Terrier mix who has been with her owners, our houseparents, since birth. Layla is fun-loving, sweet-natured and great to play with. Layla loves kids of all ages and most of all enjoys getting bathed and going on walks.


To ensure that our program is a success, St. Joseph’s staff has worked with outside agencies to identify a stringent set of guidelines for our houseparents and pets, including general parameters, health requirements and rules of conduct.

Additionally, every one of our Native American student who lives in one of our HAPI Homes must have the approval of their parent or guardian.


Although this is the first official year for the HAPI Homes Program, our pilot experiences have been extremely successful!

Here are a few of our 4-6 grade Fisher Home boys’ thoughts about Sarge:

“He is funny. He makes me feel safe. He does tricks that make me happy and he is nice and cool.”

“A dog is a companion. He picks-up after you and gives you kisses at night. We have a dog, his name is Sarge and everyone in our home loves him … especially when he cleans the floor.”

Steph, Sarge’s owner and one of our Fisher Home houseparents, says this about the first year of the pilot program: “I want to say, personally, that Sarge has added a sense of calm to the home … he is hugged by many kids who are not quick to share their emotions with staff members. Sarge is also often a reason to go outside and is a helpful cleaner in the home.”

Thank you for partnering us as we seek to provide successful, innovative programs for the Lakota (Sioux) boys and girls at St. Joseph’s Indian School! We look forward to our first official year of the HAPI Homes Program. Visit us at and for updates throughout the year!


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