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As we all know when it comes to healing, it is a marathon, not a sprint and it will take a long time. In addition it takes a lot of people, but our plan and our journey has involved man’s best friend as well. During the early days of bringing our students and staff back to the campus at Aztec High School, one of the important keys was the counselors and other mental health specialists. Another very important element was the four legged mental health helpers from Pet Pals. The Pet Pals Therapy Team brought several animals to our schools immediately after our event on December 7, 2017. In order to bring comfort and alleviate anxiety, these dogs don’t have to do anything but show up, wiggle their tails, and allow the students to interact with them. They have continued to do this for us since that day in December. The dogs come in different colors, sizes and breeds, but one commonality that they have had is they are helping us move forward in our healing journey.

There have unfortunately been other events since our incident and every time something tragic happens across our country, it can be a trigger for our students. When that happens we make sure that we bring in resources for our students and staff, and always on the list are the calls to the Pet Pal Therapy team, so that our four legged friends, that we consider family, can come as well and roam the hallways and the campus. Immediately upon arrival to campus, they go to work providing support.

I have made frequent visits to Aztec High School and checked in on our staff. One day while doing so I had a couple of teachers tell a story of how these dogs have added to the recovery and even helped with the learning in their classroom. As the two teachers were team teaching in math one day, the class was struggling with learning. One of the students looked out, saw a therapy dog in the hallway, and said “Hey, the therapy dogs are here.” Without hesitation the teacher went out in the hallway and asked the handler and her trusty mate to walk through the classroom. In a matter of five minutes the mood in the classroom changed and the learning environment improved. I guess you might say learning has gone to the dogs in a good way at Aztec High School.

The Pet Pals Therapy dogs have done an amazing job for us many times since December 7, 2017. They continue to help us along our healing journey and we want to say THANK YOU.

This non-profit org. is a great one to support if you are ever looking for one in the county because that is exactly what they have done for us and do for so many others throughout the year.

Pet Pals will be recognized by our Board of Education in our regular board meeting in May for their help, but most of all they will be remembered in our hearts forever for helping our students and our staff recover.


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