Wildcats and Dogs: Mental Health Edition

All+photos+by+Megan+Chang

All photos by Megan Chang

Allison Alben, Copy Editor

 The stress that high school brings about is arguably unrivaled by anything else in our lives. This concept was explored during ASB’s Wellness Week, and as a fabulous conclusion to the week, ASB had eight therapy dogs brought onto campus. Students got the chance to go to the amphitheater and have a meet and greet with all the dogs at brunch and lunch on Oct. 27, 2017. At both sessions, the line of students was incredibly long, as all were eager to meet these dogs. In case you missed this amazing event, here are the dogs who were super excited to come on campus.

 Ember the 8-year-old black labrador retriever is excellent at her job. How can you t

ell? She was calm and collected, while still incredibly sweet, just like any good therapy dog. Ember was raised by her owner from puppyhood to be used as a guide dog for the blind for Guide Dogs of America. She was so good, in fact, that she became a breeder for more guide dogs. Currently, seven of her babies work as guide dogs for the blind, and two of her puppies have even become breeders themselves. Ember was very excited to see the students at West Ranch, rolling over multiple times and begging for belly rubs, clearly in her element.

 Siberian Huskies, originating from Siberia, Russia, are most recognizable for their work pulling sleds in places like Alaska and Canada. But did you know that they can also be service dogs? Outlaw is a purebred Siberian Husky, and his owner estimates him to be about four years old. One day, Outlaw got out of his previous owner’s yard, was eventually found, and then taken to the Downey Shelter. Since he had no microchip, the shelter didn’t know where they could return him. As a result, his new owner adopted him, and it was a match made in heaven. Outlaw has only been a service dog since June of this year, but he already loves his job. “Look at that smile! He is so happy that everybody’s petting him,” his owner says with a laugh. Indeed, Outlaw looked like he’d never been happier.

 When you first look at Ras, she looks a bit like a big Jack Russell. However, she is actually a mix of several different breeds, including Australian Shepherd, Greyhound, Collie, and Vizsla. Her owner Ralph rescued her from the Lancaster Shelter after she was found wandering the streets. Ras seems like she was meant to be a therapy dog; she was perfect at her job. While she was happy to meet all the student of West Ranch, she was surprisingly calm the entire time students came up to meet all of the dogs, exhibiting perfect qualities for a therapy dog.

 

 Burton the therapy dog doesn’t look like much of a therapy animal when you first see him. Sure, he looks big, but the second you meet him, you can tell he’s a sweetheart. Burton has been a therapy dog for nearly

a year now, and he’s on the older side at 13 years old. But he hasn’t lived with his current owner for his entire life. He previously belonged to her friends, before they moved to China. While Burton hasn’t been a therapy dog for long, it’s obvious that he loves what he does– his tail was wagging a mile a minute.

 

    This next little guy was a crowd favorite of all the dogs. Why? Hoagie the Dachshund was dressed in a hot dog costume, and yes, it was heart-meltingly adorable. Hoagie is five years old, and has been a therapy dog for a year and a half. While he looks like a dog that’s come straight from a breeder, he’s actually a rescue dog. Hoagie was very happy to be pet by all of the West Ranch students. However, “he doesn’t like the hot dog costume too much,” his owner laughed.

 

    The next dog up was also a very popular– BJ, the American Golden Retriever. BJ is 11 years old, and he looks it too.

  “That’s why his muzzle is all gray,” says his owner with smile, “just like people, when they get older, they start getting gray.” While he is a bit old, that doesn’t stop him from going to schools and being a fantastic therapy dog. He’s been at work for nine years, and with how quickly his tail was wagging, you can tell he’d be plenty happy doing nine years more.

 

    Next up on the line was Reese, the 2-year-old Bearded Collie. Reese hasn’t been a therapy dog for long, only since about January of this year. But once he turned a year old, his owner registered him so he could get right to work. While this was his first time at a school or a similar event, Reese frequents Henry Mayo. Even though he was a bit out of his element, it clearly didn’t matter to this happy dog.

    The final dog that graced our campus has debatably the best name of them all– Batman. Batman is a 12-year-old black and brown Chihuahua. Though he is a senior, he proves that you can teach an old dog new tricks: he’s been a therapy dog for just a few months. He and his sister Robin have lived with their owner since they were puppies, and while we didn’t get a chance to meet Robin, the bond between Batman and his owner was obvious. Batman was probably the most excited out of all the dogs on campus, his tail wagging so hard he was shaking.

 “He loves his job so much, and his tail’s just going crazy,” says his owner as Batman wiggled towards the new group of people to pet him. “He loves people, and I swear he’s a Chihuahua with a Labrador personality.”

 

    Clearly, therapy dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. No matter how young, old, big, or small your pet might be, it’s never too late to train

them to become a therapy dog. If you’re interested, there are several trainers in Santa Clarita who would be happy to help you. This much is obvious: these dogs are incredible at what they do, and deserve as many pets, scratches, and belly-rubs as is humanly possible. So remember, if your day has been ruff, these dogs are happy to cheer you up.