Therapy Dogs take over the EEC

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Andy relaxes under the canopy while a group of Junior High students pet him. (Photo/Maia Fernandez Baigun)

While many of us students are busy studying and cramming for upcoming finals, Patriots Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) brings the joy of a furry friend right to our school’s backyard. Located in the Environmental Education Center May 21 from 3-4 P.M., four dogs from the Canine Assisted Therapy nonprofit organization (CAT)  lay peacefully on their mats enjoying the attention of around 100 students. 

President sophomore Jewel Kyaw said, “We’ve tried to make this a nice activity that stressed students can take part in. I know personally I was super stressed around this time last year, and the goal of this event is to help reduce that.” However, planning an event like this with an outside organization requires effort. Since April, Kyaw has worked to make sure liability forms are signed, dates reserved and the venue ready to go. This semester, four special dogs have taken the grounds of the EEC, and each has its special story.

Andy

This white golden retriever is from Puerto Rico and can be found @whitegoldenandy on Instagram. As one of the many dogs rescued from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico a couple of years ago, Andy underwent training as a professional therapy dog and regularly attends Deerfield High School where he helps children with special needs. Although his age is not exactly known because of his past, Andy is estimated to be around 8 to 11 years old.

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Rosco

At seven years of age, this local Havanese mutt comes from a family involved with helping in organizations such as CAT. A few months ago, he was diagnosed with cancer; however, just two weeks ago, Rosco had his tumor removed and is healthy as can be.

Lexie

Lexie, a 6-year-old golden retriever and also a rescue dog, was rescued from an abusive household when she was eight months old. After enduring months of mistreatment and neglect, Lexie found a new home and started to spend her time in therapy training, where she has trained for three years. Now, she works with high schools, but is training to become an aid to first responders.  

Lexie attempts to jump over the wall to meet the EEC’s very own Sheldon the turtle as sophomore Tyler Bird holds her back. “Lexie is very energetic and always looks for new friends to make,” her owner said. (Photo/Maia Fernandez Baigun)

Pioggia

A cross between a Maltese and a Yorkie, Pioggia is most known for her exotic name and outfits and can be found on Instagram @pipathetherapydog. At 13 years old, this mutt was found lying beside a street during a downpour. The woman who found her was of Italian descent and decided to name her after the rain.Wearing a variety of outfits, Pioggia has not only been a therapy dog for over a year, but she has also won a handful of contests for her costumes bought by her owner.

“I love dogs and I don’t have a dog, but I’ve always wanted to pet one so I think this is a great opportunity to fulfill that desire. The people who worked to put this together worked really hard and so I also wanted to show my support for that,” attending sophomore Shivan Giroti said. Not only were the dogs able to interact with students, but many students were eager to spend a little time away from their textbook summaries and study guides and spend a little more time with the dogs. “I think [this event is] a really good thing to have this at this time of the year, especially because of the stress that finals bring to us,” secretary of PAWS and sophomore Melina Marin said, “I’m really glad we got to do this again, and I hope the tradition continues next year.”

Sophomores Ysabella Reyes, Kristian Maurrase and Natalie Garcia pet Pioggia as they talk about her pink tutu. This new outfit is a much simpler version of her other more elaborate costumes, but nonetheless, a favorite among students.

Maia Fernandez Baigun has been on the Patriot Post staff for three years and is the Print Co-Editor-in-Chief. She loves design, photography and everything related to music. Maia is also the historian for National Honor Society and the Vice President for Save the Memories. In her free time, if she has any, Maia can be found on Spotify, making one too many playlists or taking photos.

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