Dogs can bring so much happiness into our lives. Their wagging tails, wet kisses, and friendly cuddles have helped to make them one of the world’s favorite pets, and in recent years, we’ve started to see the rise of therapy dogs as well.
Used in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and other places where individuals sometimes find themselves needing comfort and affection, therapy dogs offer love and kindness to people of all ages.
Recently, a bunch of elementary school students from Michigan decided to team up and ask their principal if they, too, could get a therapy dog. Their actions led to something truly amazing!
In 2018, the first-graders over at Reeths-Puffer Elementary School in Muskegon did a writing exericse in which they wrote letters to their principal, explaining why they thought a therapy dog would make a positive change to the school.
The letters were so convincing that the school’s vice principal, Karyn Benner, set out and started visiting some local dog shelters, hoping to find the perfect pup to surprise the little ones with.
Of course, since she was choosing a dog for a school where many young children studied every day, she had to choose carefully. She needed a dog that was hypoallergenic, friendly, calm, and most importantly of all, great with children.
It was at the Humane Society and Animal Rescue of Muskegon County that Karyn met the right pup: Buddy. She instantly knew he was the right dog for her school and decided to adopt him. Since then, Buddy has gone on to become a huge presence in many of the kids’ lives.
A lot of them come from low-income homes and difficult backgrounds, so they can get a lot of benefits from spending time with Buddy. As Karyn explains:
He cheers up teachers who have had a rough moment and supports our school-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) initiative. We have some highly aggressive students who have elaborate behavior plans. When their behaviors would escalate, our masters-level staff were often unable to de-escalate them in a timely manner. But when Buddy comes in, the students just melt in a matter of minutes. When students are depressed, Buddy instinctively goes to them and lies next to them or brings them a toy to play.
Buddy made such a big difference to the school that Karyn decided to share his story with the Petco Foundation as part of the 2019 Holiday Wishes campaign, in which hundreds of thousands of dollars are handed out as grants to support animal shelters and animal welfare organizations that need all the help they can get.
Karyn hoped that Buddy’s story might touch the campaign organizers and lead to a prize for the society that helped her find Buddy.
She, and the society’s workers, were blown away when the Petco Foundation surprised them all, organizing a big event and turning up with a huge envelope with their prize inside! It turned out to be an enormous check for $100,000!
This money will make such a big difference to the society! They’ll be able to use it to provide food, water, and shelter for so many abandoned and unwanted animals, helping many of them find forever homes and expanding their own facilities too! And it’s all thanks to the beautiful letters of those first-grade kids and the super impact Buddy has had on their lives.
Watch the moment the prize was revealed in the clip below and learn more about Buddy’s story too.
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