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Teacher's Pet

April 11, 2017

Educators kept on track by mindful mutts and a calm kitty

We asked teachers to send in pictures of their pets along with a summary of how the animal is special and helps them in their profession. 


Boston terrier

Owner: Stephani Clements, returning Grade 12 special education program, Queen Elizabeth High School, Calgary

Trevor has been a constant companion for eight and a half years. He is special because he doesn’t care what kind of day I’ve had — he is waiting at the door with a toy, his goofy smile and the insistence that I cheer up and play. When he has been around my students, he never fails to bring them out of their shells. 


Shih Tzu

Owner: Donna Beaton, learning support teacher, St. Elizabeth Catholic School, Edmonton

Fergie loves all kids. She is very gentle and calm. She has made a few appearances for show and tell and is always a hit! Someday she hopes to be a therapy dog. Just look at that face! How can you not smile?
When I walk her after school, she reminds me to live in the moment. 



Husky cross

Owner: Brianne Burritt, English language arts and health, Westminster Junior High School, Edmonton

Because I adopted her from a rescue, Tika’s genetic makeup is a bit of a mystery. At two years old she was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy and regularly has seizures. I have seen multiple vets, and they all say she has one of the most difficult cases of canine epilepsy that they’ve seen. Her personality and behaviour have changed as a result of all the medication I have had to give her, so caring for her is not quite as easy as I had hoped. However, love shouldn’t always be easy or else it doesn’t teach you things about yourself.

If I come home and I am wound up or using a harsh voice, I notice that this negatively affects my dog. Since she picks up what I am putting out, she is my anxiety barometer. I can change or correct my behaviour based on her reaction and that helps me relax after work. 



Grey tabby

Owner: Kelley Ireland, French immersion kindergarten, Varsity Acres School, Calgary

Graycee is special because she is a rescue cat. She was a pregnant stray who gave birth to five kittens and cared for them until they were adopted. When I saw her at the SPCA in Canmore, I took one look at her beautiful green eyes and knew she was mine.

Graycee helps me during report cards. She keeps me from stressing out too much, even when she is spread out all over my papers.



Owner: Shyloh-Dawn Bonogofski, psychology and ESL, Eagle Butte High School and Redcliff Mennonite Alternative Program, Dunmore

Finn loves to sit on the bed, wrapped in his favourite blanket, and watch the sunrise each morning. He constantly reminds me to be more mindful and appreciate the beauty in small things, including in my classroom.



Labrador retriever

Owner: Colleen Sulatyski, Grades 7–8 humanities, Prince of Peace Lutheran School, Calgary

Kaiser is a rescue dog who has transformed from being untrained, frustrated and anxious to being approachable, energetic and sensitive — all wrapped up in the pure joy of being alive. He loves spending time outside swimming, hiking, snowshoeing and dreaming of catching birds.  

Kaiser makes me a better educator because he forces me to refocus after work regardless of what challenges I encountered in my junior high classroom. Once I begin my evening at home I am able to shift my concentration because of the excitement that meets me at the door every day. 

Making sure that Kaiser receives his required exercise in the morning gets me active before my school day and allows me to set my day in motion with positivity and motivation. Weekends are often spent outdoors exploring, hiking and snowshoeing as I invest in my health and spend time with him. 


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