|On the Moose River near Jackman, ME|
UPDATE: I'm sorry to share that Brody crossed the Rainbow Bridge in Spring of 2016, just a day shy of his 13th birthday. Brody will always be remembered for his calm demeanor and ability to brighten the day of anyone he encountered, as well as his superpower for charming anyone and everyone in to giving him a treat.
Below is the original post I wrote in 2012 about his 11-year tenure as a therapy dog at Southern Regional High School.
Brody is 8.5 years old and with his graying muzzle, it is evident that he is starting to show his age. I'm reminded that my super-hero dog is mortal. This scares me.
Brody has been a faithful companion, trail buddy, swim partner, and emotional rock for 8.5 years now. For 7 of those years he has walked the halls of Southern Regional with me, saying hi to students and staff, offering an ear for reading, snoozing while I teach, and soothing anyone in need.
You have to understand that while Brody is my family pet, he has been a therapy dog for over 2,000 people a year for the past 7 years. He isn't just my dog, and he is much much more than an unofficial school mascot. Brody is a founding member of the PAWS therapy dog program at Southern.
|A portion of The Southern PAWS pack: Brody, Sage, & Dusty (Not pictured: Marker & Harley)|
|Brody is 2nd from the right wearing a purple ribbon.|
|Brody on his first morning "walk".|
|Thank you R.M. for this great shot! Brody plays "Sandy" in Annie.|
In the 7 years of the program, we've had 5 dogs (Brody, Sage, Dusty, Marker, & Harley) attend classes, participate in an after school reading program (BARK: Books And Reading with K-9s), interact with students, visit the special ed and autism classrooms, and when called upon, participate in crisis intervention and management. Brody even played the role of "Sandy" in the school's production of Annie. In the 7 years that Brody has attended school-- he still hasn't made it out of the 9th grade-- he and the other PAWS pack members have impacted thousands of people, staff and students alike.
In my classroom, I have ZERO truancy. I have ZERO lates. My behavior issues have also decreased. I have witnessed the surliest, meanest looking student in school, break into a big, goofy grin and get o the floor to pet Brody. I have watched regular education students stop in the halls to talk to a special education student who was walking Brody on leash. A dog is a bridge that connects us to ourselves and each other.
While I fear his mortality, Brody's years of service aren't over yet, and if he has made you smile, laugh, and be happy to be here (even from looking at these pictures), then he has done his job.
Here are some shots of the PAWS pack in action over the years.