It was a celebration fit for a president.
Red, white and blue clothing, patriotic music and applause welcomed Tiffin City Schools' new therapy dog Tuesday.
The arrival of Kennedy, a 2-year-old golden retriever, was kept a secret from students prior to the introduction. They could wear red, white and blue, had received information about former President John F. Kennedy and could read a quote by the nation's 35th president in the hallway. Staff members dressed in black and wore badges stating "Kennedy's Secret Service Agent."
PHOTOS BY JILL GOSCHE
Noble 4-5 students pet Kennedy, Tiffin City Schools’ new therapy dog, Tuesday morning.
Jenny Barlos and Shelley Wanner, representing Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence, were dressed in long jackets and escorted Kennedy into the Noble 4-5 gymnasium as "Hail to the Chief" played.
As the trio walked in, students gasped and reached out to pet the canine.
"It's a very happy day," said Suzanne Reinhart, his handler and a counselor for Tiffin City Schools.
Kennedy was trained by Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence. The agency also trained Magic, Tiffin City Schools previous therapy dog.
Magic, an 8-year-old golden retriever, had spent six years as Tiffin City Schools' therapy dog and died in June. The community celebrated his life in July.
Reinhart said people are going to carry a little magic in their hearts always. She described Kennedy as amazing and sweet.
"I think he's a little magical, don't you?" she asked.
Reinhart said she will go to Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence Oct. 22 to train with Kennedy, and he will start work at Tiffin City Schools Oct. 29. He will work in Krout 2-3 and Noble 4-5, and the goal would be to get him out in the community, she said.
"He belongs to all of us. ... We will have a 'Fun Night' with Kennedy," she said.
Barlos, client services director for Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence, said there is a matching process, and trainers work with the group of dogs to see which will become service dogs and which will become therapy dogs.
"They do a lot of different outings. ... We really felt that it was important for (Kennedy) to come here," she said.
Kennedy went to Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence as a puppy and has been through two years of training. He spent time in a prison and worked with inmates.
"(Inmates) are great trainers," Barlos said.
Obviously, she said, Kennedy loves children. There were no signs of anxiety, and he is in the right place, she said.
"You don't replace Magic; you just succeed him. ... (Kennedy) just fits here, doesn't he?" Reinhart asked.
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