Tragedy struck Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February of last year when an expelled student entered the school and opened fire. He murdered 17 people and injured 17 more giving this massacre the gruesome title of deadliest school shooting in our history. When students returned to campus later that month the terror and fear that had filled the halls and classrooms was replaced by the comfort and love of a slew of therapy dogs from all over the nation. Teachers and students commented the animals’ presence made returning to campus bearable.
Moving forward, students interacted with the specially trained pups on Therapy Dog Thursdays. One survivor of the attack, William Olson, was a freshman at the time of the shooting. He was injured in the shooting and returning to school was difficult, to say the least. He told WLRN Miami/South Florida “Just knowing it’s there, that I can pet it — it helps me remember that I’m at school and I’m safe,” William, and many other students, have since gotten their own therapy dogs that are welcome in classrooms on a daily basis.
There are countless recounts from other students and staff members who relayed that the dogs have an uncanny ability to sense when someone was struggling. They know who needs them and go over to them to rest a paw on their leg or nuzzle them comfortingly. These loving and amazing creatures are trained to stay and calm and quiet no matter what is going on but their sixth sense to provide love when needed is innate.
The yearbook for 2019 was recently published by students and staff at Stoneman Douglas. The therapy dogs who have a regular presence on the campus were given their own page in the yearbook, to the delight of students, staff, and the world over. There are 14 of them, Daisy, Schooner, Emma, Chief and Gail among them. They are of all breeds and sizes. One handsome lab donned a bow tie for his school pic. They all won our hearts.
Featured Image Aerie Yearbook/Instagram
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