Among the hundreds of photos in the 2015 yearbook for Minnesota’s Blaine High School are those of Caramel Thomas and Dakota Comancho.
But the photos of Caramel and Dakota stand out just a bit from the others. The two are service dogs.
Caramel belongs to Rebecca Thomas, who is hearing impaired and teaches American sign language at Blaine High. For the past nine years, her service dog Caramel has joined her in class.
Dakota, a certified therapy dog, belongs to Vicky Camancho, who teaches a special education class at the school and brings in Dakota once a week.
“The students love seeing the service dogs in the yearbook,” Thomas told Yahoo Canada.
The photos were originally posted on Tumblr two weeks ago.
“A couple teachers at my school have service dogs and they get their own picture in the yearbook,” wrote Kate, who uploaded the photos. “It’s amazing.”
Photos of the two dogs have previously been included in the staff section of Blaine High’s yearbooks. It all started a couple years ago, when Dakota’s photo was taken for an identification badge on class picture day.
“When we got the disc of student and staff photos, we automatically flowed the pictures into the yearbook page sections,” Faculty Adviser Jill Farrell told the Star Tribune. “The editors and I giggled like mad when we saw that a picture of Dakota was included in the images.”
Lynn Florman, head of the special education department, told Yahoo Canada the photos send a positive message.
“Sometimes the unique services they provide are not understood or valued by others, so seeing them recognized in such a public and memorable way as a yearbook sends a strong message to all that they are an integral part of the team that supports our students,” Florman said.
She said it warmed her heart to watch distraught or shy students be comforted by Dakota’s presence
“In many ways, Dakota represents the best qualities we hope to teach our students,” Florman said. “Unconditional love and acceptance, patience and tolerance for those who are different.”