A Tail of Giving Back

By: Samantha Guzman, BluePath Puppy Raiser and Facility Therapy Dog Handler

I was sitting at a restaurant in Jackson, New Hampshire, when I received the call that a BluePath Facility Therapy Dog was ready to join our school system—and his name just so happened to be Jackson! In that moment, I knew it was meant to be, and he was going to do amazing things for our students.

I immediately did a little internet stalking and found his Instagram hashtag, #BluePathJackson. Jackson was so beautiful—and so loved by his foster mom. It was amazing to look at the photos and videos and see the connection they had.

The day before Jackson came to us, his foster mom posted a message I will never forget. She was so sad; how could she not be? This amazing dog was leaving her. But she was also so very happy and so very proud of Jackson. She knew his job was to be with students and that he was going to change lives. And she was right; he has changed so many lives.

BluePath Jackson visits five schools a week in our district, and he has a role at every school. Our students know the day that Jackson will be in their building, and oftentimes, they will be waiting outside for him before the day has even begun.

Some days, Jackson is helping a student get out of a car because they are too anxious to walk in alone. Sometimes, he is walking with a student who needs a break. Other times, he is just there for a student to pet because that is all the comfort they need. Students run to him for love and comfort.

Parents have also requested Jackson for their children. One parent worked with the school psychologist and Jackson to help their child ease their fear of dogs. 

Jackson has become a part of our community. He is always recognized when we go to local events. Students will gather around him, and their parents are always so happy to finally meet “Jackson the Therapy Dog.” When Jackson was out sick for a week, the students made him hundreds of get-well cards (and I read every single card to him)!

Jackson has fit seamlessly into our lives from day one. A month after he came to us, our sweet golden retriever suddenly passed away from an unknown heart condition. My kids began visiting Jackson while at school. If they needed a moment, he was there. And he was always there for them at home. When Jackson isn’t working, he is my walking buddy. He is the kids’ snuggle buddy. He still loves his “woobie” toy that he has had since he was a puppy. He loves belly rubs. He spends his days tolerating his new younger brother Arlo, a one-year-old golden retriever, and he is just smitten with BluePath Peanut, the sweetest yellow lab puppy that we are raising for BluePath

After reading the last post from Jackson’s foster mom, I knew I had to give back. She—and his amazing puppy raiser—gave our students a very precious gift. Jackson has forever changed the lives of so many students and their families. And that is because of them. Their time, effort, love, and even tears show up every day in the work that Jackson is doing. I knew I wanted to do the same thing.

So, along with my co-worker – and mother to BluePath Facility Therapy Dog, Izzy – we decided to co-raise BluePath Peanut. She is nothing short of spectacular. She is sleeping at my feet as I write this, and I get teary-eyed thinking of the day she has to leave. Sad because I will miss her but happy because she is going to do amazing things for another family.

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