A (very) good boy
At our school, we all live the Meadowridge Mission
Now in her eighth year as a Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS) handler, Grade 3 teacher Ms. Michelle Vally has helped to raise many puppies and learned some important lessons along the way. What began as her own, independent service project evolved into a school-wide initiative. Ms. Vally, along with the Meadowridge community, has now helped raise three PADS puppies—Taylor, Wallaby (or, 'Wally'), and Pippa—and now, we're excited to announce our newest puppy in training: Wasabi.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: HOW'S WALLY DOING?
Wally is doing great! After his time at Meadowridge, he went on to become a Very Important Pet (VIP) with a seven-year-old girl who needed him. Only special, very well-trained dogs can become VIP, as they go on to support a child in need.
YOU'VE NOW HOSTED THREE, LONG-TERM PUPPIES HERE AT MEADOWRIDGE
AS WELL AS MANY OTHERS. WHAT KEEPS YOU GOING WITH PADS?
PADS is an important way to give back to our community. It doesn't involve money, just time and love. I love bringing this type of service into my classroom and involving my students. Not only does it help students see different types of service, it also benefits them each day: there are so many advantages to having a puppy around, and students also learn a lot about self-management. The puppy is a mirror of students' energy: if they get too excited, the puppy does too. I'll often ask them, "What's puppy telling you?" It's immediate feedback for them so they can adjust their actions.
WHAT ARE SOME IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT SERVICE DOGS?
Just like Meadowridge, service dog schools go through accreditations to become recognized as an Assistance Dogs International (ADI) school. Their teams look at how a school treats its dogs, trains its handlers, and many other criteria before assigning an accreditation. There are ADI schools all around the world. In British Columbia, there are three. PADS is one of them, and they train five types of dogs: hearing-alert dogs, accredited facilities dogs, PTSD dogs, VIP dogs, and assistance dogs for people with physical disabilities.
TELL US ABOUT WASABI. WHAT WILL HIS TRAINING LOOK LIKE AT THE SCHOOL?
Wasabi is an eleven-week-old golden retriever. We'll be socializing him here at the school by getting him used to all sorts of sights and sounds. Just yesterday, we were supervising at recess and there were kids running, skipping, and jumping all over the place—it's the perfect place to train him. We work on him paying attention to only me, his handler, and not all the kids and balls and noises.
WHERE WILL WE SEE WASABI AROUND THE SCHOOL?
It'll be a bit different this time around! We're excited because Mrs. Brianna Just and Mrs. Marie Devantier will also be getting PADS trained, so Wasabi will be spending equal time with them. With Mrs. Just, he'll spend time with students in post-secondary counselling. With Mrs. Devantier, he'll be with her Grade 7's. Of course, he'll be spending time with my Grade 3 students as well. Wasabi has been at the school for only a week and he's already helped our grade 12 students, providing them a little stress relief before their mock exams.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT THIS TIME AROUND?
Each dog is unique, with their own strengths and challenges, so I'm looking forward to learning how to work with Wasabi. I'm excited to see where his journey goes, and where he might end up!
Want to help Ms. Vally train Wasabi?
Four Ways You Can Help
Ask before you pet him. Remember, sometimes you may hear 'no,' but that's only because Wasabi is working on something important!
Wait until he's seated before petting him.
Try not to call out his name in the hallways (even though it may be tempting!) Wasabi is still young, and can be easily distracted.
Curious? Check with his handler first. If you're unsure about what to do, just ask!