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Parkland therapy dogs have their own special yearbook page

Posted at 5:59 PM, May 18, 2019

This year’s edition of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School yearbook features some very good boys and girls.

Among the photos of students and staff are the furry, smiling faces of the 14 therapy dogs that have kept MSD students and staff company since the day they returned to school following last year’s mass shooting.

Their presence has brought joy and comfort when the MSD community needed it most, so it only seemed right to honor them with a special yearbook page and some expert canine portraiture.

“The kids love having the dogs on campus, and honestly, do so we,” yearbook adviser Sarah Lerner told CNN.

Lerner said the dogs are like celebrities around school, and the idea to include their pictures came after another resident dog, who belongs to the school’s media specialist, got her picture taken on school picture day.

“The editors and I started talking, and we decided we wanted to have all the dogs in the book,” Lerner said. So on make-up picture day, the photography area was crowded with eager, well-behaved dogs ready to say cheese for the camera.

The result, well, speaks for itself. Who wouldn’t crack a smile looking at those photogenic faces?

“(The students) love it,” Lerner said. “They think it’s the greatest thing ever.”

But the dogs’ presence on campus isn’t just for smiles and laughs, and Lerner stressed that they’re never a distraction to students.

“They are trained therapy dogs,” Lerner said. “They’re never unattended, they’re always on a leash and they’re so good-natured and well-mannered. They bring a sense of comfort and calm and relaxation. It’s wonderful.”

Lerner said the dogs are brought to the school by volunteer handlers from various canine organizations. With a student body eager for moments of healing and goodness, it’s no wonder the dogs quickly became like family.

And yes, all of the students want them to sign their yearbooks.