A professionally trained therapy dog, Allie is well-known for her caring and sharing attitude, and for her remarkable relationships with students and staff at the school. On Saturday, the golden retriever with the golden heart will receive special recognition for her dog-gone good work.
Named as one of Ohio's Outstanding Animals for 2006 by the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association, Allie will be honored during a ceremony at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus.
According to the OVMA's Web site, the 10 "honorees are animals who, through unselfish and courageous accomplishment, exemplify the affection, loyalty, security, and value of the link between animals and people."
A Christmas gift to the Bryan student body in December, 2004, Allie won top honors for "Outstanding Work With Children in Education." She was nominated by Shelley Wanner and Jackie Boyd, counselors at Bryan Middle School, who will attend the awards event in Columbus with Allie. Dr. W. Brent Pettigrew of Bryan, who provides free veterinary care to Allie, plans to attend, too. Bryan is in Williams County, about 60 miles west of Toledo.
Allie was nominated for the OVMA honor "because we thought it would be a special thing to show the change Allie has made. Initially she helped one man and changed his life, and now she changes the lives of hundreds of kids every day," said Mrs. Boyd, who is Allie's owner.
Allie's success story was featured last fall during a statewide counselors conference, generating interest from several other schools in therapy dogs. Tiffin Schools received a therapy dog in March for elementary students, she said.
Burr Road Middle School in Wauseon in Fulton County is on a waiting list for a therapy dog through Assistance Dogs of America, Principal Joe Friess said yesterday. "Allie was definitely the influence" for the interest in obtaining a therapy dog for the school, he said. Allie visited the Wauseon school last spring.
It could take a year before a therapy dog is available for the school, he said. "If it happens this year, we would be thrilled to death," he said, noting that there are several reasons why he's sold on the idea of having a dog in the school building on a regular basis. "Every kid likes dogs. Dogs have a calming influence. I have seen the research on the impact dogs have on student behavior."
At work in Bryan, Allie is a healer and a helper, a teacher and a trusted friend. Just by being there, she calms fears and coaxes smiles from those around her. In the mornings, she carries attendance slips to the school office. In the counselor's office, she listens to the troubles of stressed-out students who hug her and gently stroke her shiny coat.
She teaches tolerance, kindness, acceptance, respect, responsibility, and cooperation. A bona fide member of the counseling staff, Allie has a main specialty - sharing unconditional love.
Contact Janet Romaker