Warrior the dog has a summer job

Warrior teaches both behaviorally and academically at-risk kids the importance of education, healthy eating and even exercise, and he attended each day of June’s summer school at the Alabaster Alternative School. (Contributed)

Warrior teaches both behaviorally and academically at-risk kids the importance of education, healthy eating and even exercise, and he attended each day of June’s summer school at the Alabaster Alternative School. (Contributed)

By CAROLINE CARMICHAEL/Staff Writer

ALABASTER—The Alabaster School System’s “goodwill ambassador” has been busy at work this summer.

Serving as an incentive, break and source of stress relief to students, the 10-month-old mini Australian Shepherd attended each day of June’s summer school at the Alabaster Alternative School.

“Now he’s visiting our summer camp,” said Tanner.

Warrior was donated by a breeder last October with the purpose of becoming a “therapy dog.”

“Wendy and I wanted a program to reach the most at-risk kids,” said Dorann Tanner, the coordinator of student services for Alabaster City Schools.

Wendy McNish is an at-risk counselor at the Alabaster Alternative School and the “mom” of Warrior.

“We never imagined it would take off like it had,” Tanner said. “Everyone embraced him.”

Through training funded by the Alabaster Board of Education, Warrior now impacts countless individuals at the Alabaster Alternative School and afterschool Alabaster City Schools ACES program.

Through his own experiences, habits and demonstrations, Warrior teaches both behaviorally and academically at-risk kids the importance of education, healthy eating and even exercise.

Warrior is also impacting emotionally disturbed students.

The school system’s unique program teaches students, “If Warrior can learn, so can you,” said McNish.

McNish, Tanner and Warrior will present this special program at the MEGA Conference in Mobile July 14-18.

This summer, Warrior is returning to advanced level training classes at Petsmart. These “trick and agility classes,” as described by McNish, provide Warrior with a supply of off-leash tricks to both entertain and encourage Alabaster schools’ students and staff.

Once Warrior reaches one year in age, he will undergo more extensive training to equip him for impacting students with special needs.

“We hope he goes all the way through and will be able to help all levels of students,” said McNish.