Ruger’s dog days at PA


Madison Hamel

Ruger spends part of his day resting on his bed in Rm. 1059.

Madison Hamel, Staff

Ruger, a 5-year-old black lab, has attended PA  since he was a puppy and continues to brighten the student body. 

In actuality, Ruger  is an emotional support animal who stays in Rm. 1059 throughout the school day where he keeps his toys, a bed, water and his leash.

Each morning, Ruger hops a ride to school with his owner and exceptional services teacher Mr. Lyons. They then hang out in Mr. Lyon’s classroom and wait for a student in Mrs. Collins’ skills program to get Ruger and bring him to Rm. 1059, which he shares with Mrs. Collins. The students in the program are responsible for taking care of Ruger.

Along with emotional support, Ruger helps teach the students learn responsibility and fine motor skills. “Clearly there’s the responsibility aspect, and the students are tasked with taking him out frequently,” said Mr. Lyons. “That requires a lot of energy and effort.” 

Before Ruger, Mr. Lyons’ dog Zuri came to school and stayed in his truck until Mrs. Collins  asked if it would be possible for Zuri to spend some time with the students as a therapy dog. 

Sadly, Zuri passed away, and Mr. Lyons waited two years before purchasing Ruger and certifying him as an emotional support animal. 

“And the rest is history,” said Mrs. Collins. 

During the summer break and vacations, Ruger enjoys running in the yard and playing, as well as normal “dog things.” Although. Mr. Lyons said that Ruger is always happy to get back to work in September and help out the students in any way that he can. 

Ruger is able to sense when someone is having a bad day or going through a rough patch in life, as well as  providing help to students when they’re anxious. If he notices something off, he’ll go over and help that person with his attention.

The students and staff at PA  adore Ruger,  and he is an important part of the school community. 

In fact, Ruger has now secured his own picture in the yearbook and a mailbox in the main office. Ruger appreciates any dog treat donations in his mailbox.