GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Sweet 8-week-old Paws with a Cause puppy Zaire had no idea that someday she'd grow up to be a pretty important pup.
After a year learning the basics from her foster puppy raisers Zaire returned to Paws With A Cause to continue her training.
"I'm looking at the dog's body language do they have a good reaction and good chemistry with the people.", Jim Cantrell with Paws With A Cause is in charge of evaluating the dogs to find their perfect job, "We want a dog that's A. going to be safe B. that's not going to be reactive to overstimulation and we want a dog that's going to enjoy this type of work."
And for Zaire that type of work is a facility dog, "When a dog goes to a facility one of our requirements is that the dog lives with a particular person that we call the handler and goes to work with them.", says Cantrell.
Melissa Simkins will be Zaire's handler. She's is a counselor at Lowell Middles School. But there's one test they both still have to take. Zaire will also live with Melissa and her family. But Melissa says Zaire's most important role will be working with the middle school students.. "We just want her there to be able to interact with the kids she'll be in the counseling office with us so just to create those positive impacts and help kids come up with that positive change either emotionally of physically wherever they're at."
A few weeks after their meet and great it was time for Zaire's first day of school.
Jim watches closely to see how Zaire interacts. He's looking for specific qualities, "Is the dog calm is he easy to get along with is he able to be in a classroom and be in that space without causing a lot of distraction."
Jim's final verdict?, "I think she did fantastic! She interacted with the staff and the students very social dog very interactive everybody really seemed to enjoy being with her she didn't seem to be overwhelmed. She seemed to really enjoy all the interaction and all the attention."
So far Zaire's first day on the job is a success. "We really see her being able to diffuse tense situations and help calm those tense times that we have in the office or in the classroom." says Melissa.
Now it's time for Zaire to continue her training to an official part of Lowell Middle School's Red Arrow family.
Paws With A Cause is holding a free virtual fundraiser, Paws To Celebrate Thursday, April 15th from 11a to Noon if you would like to help support facility and assistance dogs like Zaire.
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