BRIDGEPORT - For residents of southwestern Connecticut, there is a big dog in town to help comfort during difficult times.

Spartacus is a 4-year-old Akita who is both a therapy dog and a K-9 first responder.

The dog lent an ear Tuesday morning to reading third-grade students at New Beginnings Family Academy in Bridgeport. Before that, Spartacus responded to the stabbing death of 16-year-old student Maren Sanchez at Jonathan Law High School in Milford. 

His presence was so well-received that school officials invited the canine to prom and to walk with graduates during their commencement ceremony.

Spartacus gave support to families after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and helped calm victims of the Metro-North train derailment in Bridgeport. 

Next month, Milford Mayor Benjamin G. Blake will honor Spartacus for his work at Jonathan Law High School.