Guirl Teaches Dog at School

Chrissy Liotta

Sophomore Jessica Guirl comes to school every morning holding her books in one hand and a leash in the other.  Jessica is part of a program called Therapeutics.  This requires her to bring her dog, Madoc, to school everyday and try to make him blend in with the crowd in order to prepare him for everyday life.

Madoc, a white Golden Retriever, was bred to be in the Therapeutics program and given his name by the people who donated him.

There are not many requirements to train a Therapeutics dog, but she does have to attend classes that teach her how to train Madoc twice a week.

“I really love dogs and really wanted one, but my mom wouldn’t let me get one unless I trained it,” Guirl said.

Guirl seldom has problems taking Madoc in public because he is generally a good dog, but sometimes at school he does not follow rules.

“He barks in class sometimes and once he took the leash and ran towards the door.  He also runs through and attacks sprinklers at school on the way back from the STC,” she said.

Guirl has been training him for about a month now, but before Madoc came to her, his previous owner taught him tricks also; Jessica has been adding to his knowledge.

Madoc can “sit, close lockers, stay, lay, open and close doors, open drawers, take off socks, and turn lights on and off,” Guirl said.

In the hallways at school, students often stop her to pet her dog.

“Sometimes I hate [when people touch Madoc] because he is supposed to be working, but before and after school it can be fun,” she said.

When going out in public, Guirl gets all kinds of strange looks and reactions.

“People think I’m blind or mentally challenged and talk to me like I am mentally challenged,” she said

She will have to give Madoc to a person who needs him one year from now.

“I’ll be sad, but when I know that he is going to someone who needs him more than I do, I’ll feel better,” Guirl said.

When seen in public, Madoc is in uniform and working.  But when he is at home or playing, the vest can come off.

There is another Therapeutics dog at school, owned by sophomore Caroline Gerow.  His name is JP.  Gerow has been training JP for almost a year.

Gerow says that Madoc and JP love each other.  “They always lick each other’s ears and rub up against each other.  Jessica and Madoc came over last week and played in the back yard for hours; they love it!”

Gerow has watched Jessica train Madoc and do many funny things.

“He eats bubbles!  It’s hilarious,” Gerow said.

Guirl and Madoc have ceramics class with sophomore Matthew Rader.

Rader said that “during class, [Madoc] usually lays around, eats stuff on the floor, or gets pampered by a bunch of people in class for how totally cute he is.”
Some people get distracted by the dog in class, but not Rader.
“Well, it’s ceramics, but if it was any other class I’m sure he would be [distracting],” Rader said.

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