School comfort dog gets photo in yearbook with graduating class
The 9-year-old golden retriever named Prince even donned a cap and gown and led graduates to their ceremony.
Wed, Jun 12 2013 at 10:46 AM
The most memorable graduate of Portage High School's class of 2013 wasn’t the valedictorian — it was a golden retriever named Prince.
The 9-year-old therapy dog trained by Lutheran Church Charities worked in the school’s guidance office, providing comfort to students, but after four and a half years of work, Prince retired.
As a parting gift, he had a professional photo taken that was published alongside the class of 2013.
"We've never done anything like this, but it was a nice way to say goodbye to Prince," Melissa Deavers-Lowie, the school's yearbook adviser, told Yahoo. "Parents and students thought it was so cute and funny.”
Prince lives with guidance counselor Tim Kunstek and his family, and until recently, he traveled to Portage High School five days a week. The canine companion greeted students as they arrived and sat in on counseling sessions. He also patrolled the halls and joined students in the cafeteria during lunch.
But Prince’s work wasn’t contained to just the halls of Portage High School. The therapy dog also traveled for work and was one of the dogs who went to Sandy Hook Elementary School to comfort students in the wake of the shootings.
“The kids at Sandy Hook loved him and all the other therapy dogs so much that Lutheran Church Charities is now trying to raise money for therapy dogs at Sandy Hook,” said Kunstek.
Although Prince has now retired, he’ll still live with Kunstek and work part-time. Students looking to keep in touch with the golden retriever can do so on Facebook, where Kunstek will continue to post photos and updates about the dog.
Portage won’t be without a comfort dog for long — his spot will be filled by Isaiah, a 1-year-old golden retriever.
Still, Prince’s absence will be felt, so students and faculty wanted to give him the sendoff he deserved. In addition to having his photo published in the yearbook, Prince also recently donned his very own cap and gown and led graduates to the football field for their ceremony.
"The students really love Prince and they've come to see him as a part of our family at our school," Deavers-Lowie said.
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