Parkland Students And Staff Honor Their Therapy Dogs In Yearbook | 22 Words

For the past year, therapy dogs have provided Parkland's students and the faculty of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School love, comfort, and support. And this year, the students are showing their appreciation by including the therapy dogs in their yearbook.

The yearbook theme is “It All Depends” and after all of the glossy pages of students and memories of their year, there is a page with individual portraits of each of the fourteen therapy dogs listed just like the students. The good boys and girls are a mix of Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Golden Doodles and at least one Shih Tzu-Yorkie mix. They come from different South Florida groups including Canine Assisted Therapy Inc., Share-A-Pet, Therapy Dogs International and the Humane Society of Broward County.

Therapy dogs were brought to MSD High School to help teens and staff cope with the aftermath of the mass shooting that took the lives of seventeen people on campus on February 14 last year. The therapy dogs have been an integral part of the recovery process for Parkland in class, between classes, in the courtyard outside the cafeteria, and even during extra-curricular activities. News of the photoshoot and yearbook quickly went viral as students spoke about admiration for their therapy dogs on social media.

Since the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, therapy dogs have been an important part of the recovery process for students and staff.

The American Kennel Club describes therapy dogs as dogs who go with their owners to volunteer in settings such as schools, hospitals, and nursing homes.

The therapy dogs for MSD were provided by South Florida groups that include Canine Assisted Therapy Inc., Share-A-Pet, Therapy Dogs International and the Humane Society of Broward County.

"I think it’s just a real nice honor to them," Courtney Trzcinski, executive director of Canine Assisted Therapy in Fort Lauderdale, told the Sun Sentinel. Trzcinski has seven dogs featured in the yearbook.

One of the dogs is a Greyhound Italian-Golden Retriever mix named Emma, who is a rescue pup from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

It’s so wonderful to see that good girl, Emma, has a loving home and volunteering job after Hurricane Maria.

And to honor the amazing service that the therapy dogs have provided, students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas created a yearbook page with portraits of their furry pals.

The yearbook photoshoot quickly went viral.

The pictures are all sorts of heart-warming.

My anxiety level has gone down so much just writing about the therapy dogs and their positive impact on the Parkland kids.

The dogs' pictures fill two rows at the top of their own page in the Aerie Yearbook, which is themed “It All Depends."

Aerie Yearbook is the official MSD yearbook organization.

The idea to include the dogs came from the school’s yearbook adviser, Sarah Lerner, who is also an English and journalism teacher at MSD.

“We decided to include the dogs because they are here every day," Lerner told the Sun Sentinel.

Lerner decided to tell one of the handlers about her idea and the photoshoot was a go.

"I told one of their handlers about it and next thing I know I had fifteen dogs in the room. We sat them up on chairs, they were smiling for the camera. It was the greatest day of my life," Lerner told Buzzfeed.

The dogs have been such an important part in the day-to-day for MSD.

“I'll be teaching and in comes a dog and these big 18-year-old adults all the sudden become mushy 5-year-old kids and it's been such a comfort for us," Lerner told Buzzfeed.

The first dog to get their picture taken was River, a Bernese mountain mix who was adopted by the school's media specialist, Diana Heneski.

Haneski introduced River by throwing a “Yappy Hour".

Portrait day was in October and the doggy portraits turned out adorable.

The pictures are "aw"-inducing, that's for sure.

One of the students tweeted, “including the therapy/service dogs in the yearbook is the best decision we’ve made so far like this one dog had a bowtie and my heart."

What a cutie this doggo is!

These behind-the-scenes photos show just how adorable and how good these pups are.

The dogs shown in these pictures are Grace, Emma, and Chief.

Therapy dog, Chief Osceola, loves his yearbook. Here’s a picture of him with his yearbook for students and staff to sign it.

I'm not crying, you are.

All of these special good boys and girls have a bond with the MSD students.

Some of the dogs' names are Gail Policella, Sophie Levy, Annie Sultenfuss, River Haneski and Grace Goodwill, also known as “therapydogprincess."

These wonderful dogs have been amazing to the MSD students.

I am personally so proud to see them honor those that helped them when they were in need.

A few of the dogs even joined the students for prom.

Chief and Molly were stunning at prom.

The MSD students and staff have been through a lot this past year.

"After the shooting we wanted the yearbook to be perfect and had to cover as much as possible. This year, we wanted to give proper representation of our school and who we are now without giving so much focus to what happened to us in the past. The therapy dogs are the one thing from last year that is permanent and positive," Caitlyn Tibbetts, rising editor-in-chief told Buzzfeed.

The dogs have been there while students and staff had delays with the unfortunate passing of two students by suicide and the anniversary of the massacre.

“Including them was a really good representation of our school and what we have gone through. Seeing them is something we look forward to every day," Tibbetts told Buzzfeed.

It’s incredible to see how much positivity the therapy dogs have brought to people in need.

And many people were touched by the gesture of including the dogs in the yearbook. So much so that the dogs have been featured on news outlets throughout the country. They even feature in the May issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.

The Sun Sentinel tweeted about the MSD yearbook that included the therapy dogs.

The replies to the tweets are heartwarming, but many people were also saddened by the fact that the therapy dogs were even needed at the school in the first place.

I couldn't agree more.

It would be amazing to also see the dogs during this year's graduation ceremony.

We seriously should have therapy dogs everywhere.

Work, airports, crowded malls; I am all about therapy dogs.

It's so adorable.

These dogs have truly brought light to what has been some very dark times for students and staff at MSD.

Parents of MSD students are also very grateful and appreciative of the therapy dogs.

Having them as resources at the school must be such an amazing relief for parents worried about their child's mental health.

I love all of the pictures, but the dog with the bowtie is one of my favorites.

Schooner Davis was definitely ready for the camera.

The dog therapy handlers also had wonderful things to say.

And the MSD students and staff showed their love right back.

This is a good point.

It's heartbreaking, but we're thankful that they were available to provide the gentle-love and care needed.

We all have "heart eyes" for these therapy dogs and the students and staff of MSD.

I also shed a happy tear.

Students of MSD have been enjoying their yearbooks and are also ecstatic about the photos of their therapy dogs.

It’s amazing to see them enjoying these happy moments.