Local business helps HHS special education students learn job skills

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA – The Helena Dog House business recently got some exterior upgrades thanks to the help of a few Helena High School students willing to put in some hard work on Friday, March 15.

Helena High School students Ava Harris, Kennedy Schlueter, Monse Gonzalez and Will Pylant spent the day painting light blue paw prints on an exterior fence on the property.

Helena Dog House specializes in pet boarding, grooming, daycare and training and opened about a year ago in Helena.

Owner Nicole Barnes said the HHS special education students have been volunteering all throughout the 2018-19 school year.

“They’ve been coming most of the school year and volunteered on a weekly basis except for a break during the winter,” Barnes said. “Julie Gray, the special education school bus driver, came by and left a business card and it got my wheels turning after teaching special education for so long that I wanted to involve the department in here somehow if I can. We partnered and they’ve been cleaning kennels, bathing dogs, washing dishes, painting and things like that.”

Barnes and Job Coach Andria Gaither said the best part of teaming with local businesses is that special education students can get the exposure and skills they need for the future.

“In the grand scheme of things, this helps them have work skills so that when they complete high school, they can have skills already developed that they can take to a job,” Gaither said. “My hope is that another employer will see this and want to get involved as well.”

Harris spent the day painting the paw prints and discussed some of the things she’s learned while outside the classroom.

“I think my favorite part was giving baths to the dogs,” Harris said. “I want to be a horse trainer when I grow up and I love animals.”

Barnes said Helena Dog House and the special education department are also working on summer internships going forward.

Helena Dog House is located at 97 Ace Place where they’re open Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Sunday for pickups only between 4-6 p.m.

For more information, visit Helenadoghouse.com.