My first two years of teaching, I worked with a population that was overwhelmingly high-needs. The entire district was Title I, meaning that greater than 95% (I don’t know the exact percentage, but it was in the high nineties) qualified for free and reduced lunch. They had very limited resources. Along with this, many of the students were struggling in other ways and some had been identified as being at very high-risk.
There was an organization that came to my school that met with those kids and taught them life skills, build up self-confidence, and simply gave them notice. This was all done through therapy dogs. This powerful experience for the kids was on the fringes of my peripheral vision, as I was a first/second year teacher trying not to drown in it all.
But it stuck with me.
This morning, while lying in bed with my first cup of coffee, I found myself researching this organization and seriously wondering if our Flat Coat Retriever rescue dog, Sasha and I would be up for the challenge. As I was deep on thought on the topic, Cody and Carter woke up and came lumbering into the bedroom. They flopped onto the bed, which was already filled with two black furry pups, and listened as I told them my thoughts.
Carter appeared a bit protective and worried for Sasha. He thought it might be alright if the children did not hurt her. He wanted to know if he could come along. I think he was wrestling with the implications of sharing our dog with others. What if she loves us less? – I could see the question in his head.
I assured him that Sasha would always be our dog, we would be her pack. This is when Cody piped up.
cody: We will always be in her heart, and in her mind.
carter: Adding to this, in what I feel was quite an eloquent way, Carter states – We will always be in her tail, too.
Sasha, who is a total tail-wagger, was listening, enjoying the pets, and wagging her tail.
Yes, we will always be in her tail, too.