Humphrey takes his job as a classroom pet VERY-VERY-VERY seriously (and so does Og, as you’ll learn when his first book comes out in July) … but he is far from alone in the category of working animals.

Dogs are particularly suited to many jobs from security dogs at airports, police and war dogs, cancer-sniffing dogs, dogs that visit hospitals, rehabilitation and retirement homes and rescue dogs (oh, the hard work of dogs after 911 and the Oklahoma City bombings).

But SCHOOL dogs? I did encounter a working school dog during the years I spent traveling around the country and speaking at schools. I wish I could remember where. That fine dog’s regular visits were calming and helpful to students struggling with reading. They could read to her and her complete attention and lack of judgment fostered the confidence they needed to move forward.

And now, please meet the very handsome Thabiso! His name aptly means “Bringer of Joy.”  As his partner in this work, Allison Smith, says, “He visits libraries, an assisted living facility and a homeless shelter as well and is closing in on 800 total visits made.” Thabiso has been visiting 4th grade classes for two years and 2nd grade classes weekly for five years at E.J. Arthur Elementary School in Athens, NY … and that’s how he came to know the Humphrey books.

(Thabiso is certified with Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs and Allison and her husband – along with Thabiso – are featured in the book RESCUED by Peter Zheutlin.)

Allison donates Humphrey books to students in the classes … and the books are “pawtographed” by Thabiso!

She says, “He loves his kids so much and they love him and they are more confident readers because of him. We know from many past classes that he helps inspire a love of reading What could be better than that?”

Nothing!

He also recently was loaned to a school where several children were victims of a terrible tragedy and he helped comfort their classmates.

This is work. This is hard work. And it’s something that dogs do so well.

Our own departed but still beloved dog, Desi, created jobs for herself. She would have loved to have had a REAL job but looking after rather limited humans was her lot in life. Yes, she thought we were limited, with extremely poor senses of smell and hearing but an uncanny ability to score yummy food!

She was a true pack dog with a rather paltry pack. One of the ways she showed her allegiance to our pack was the fact that she would lie outside the room of whichever person was the last one still in bed, facing outward so she’d see the enemies coming. She wouldn’t budge until that family member got up.

She also thoroughly searched the perimeter of our yard (which has some rather wild areas) first thing in the morning and last thing at night. She checked every inch without fail to see if any critters had crossed the line.

When they did, she took care of that situation with many “notches”” in her collar for ridding the yard of possums, skunks (not a good idea), squirrels and other rodents -no hamsters, thank goodness!

I am not making light of her work. She was the smartest dog I’ve ever known and took her job seriously. She was a playful pet and sympathetic friend to my son, but also always on alert for anything that wasn’t quite right. She was not the kind of dog who sat at your feet, but rather sat outside of the circle, facing out, watching for danger. But we had a blind friend and somehow she sensed Carolyn couldn’t see. She would plant herself at Carolyn’s side so she could pet her easily and would NEVER get under her feet. She was the only visitor who received this treatment.

I’m sorry Miss Desi didn’t meet Thabiso. She would have loved his job!

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