After a decade of loyal service in the classroom, Dumb Friends League ambassadog Holi retired in April, and a special celebration was held in her honor. The League’s longest-serving ambassador pet, age 15½, is moving out of the spotlight for health reasons. The cuddly, raccoon-eyed Shih Tzu has been diagnosed with stage 3 kidney failure—although her veterinarian said she may live for months or years if she takes it easy and continues her treatment.
Ambassador animals—formerly known as mascots—assist our humane education team in many ways. They allow kids to practice the proper way to meet animals and their owners, and to learn valuable lessons about animal shelters and pet care.
Holi’s owner, Jasmin Rice, said, “She started in the program just months after I joined the League; my husband thought she’d be perfect for the job and she was!” Named Holiday Inn the Mountains after the Colorado spot where Jasmin and her husband had stayed while on vacation right before adopting her, Holi has shared a loving home with the couple and three other dogs.
Currently, the Humane Education department has access to a rotating pool of 13 qualified ambassadogs and one ambassacat that join them on classroom visits. All are owned by League staff or volunteers.
To serve as an ambassador, pets must be from a shelter or a rescue. Owners must fill out an application form that contains specific information about the pet’s history and experience with adults and kids. Finally, the animal must pass a detailed temperament screening administered by the Behavior department. Dogs must show they are comfortable in crowds and alone, meeting kids, being handled and being around other dogs. They must also respond to “sit,” “down” and “stay” commands.
“These ambassadogs are amazing,” said Kelsey San Buenaventura, humane education manager. “They can walk through a high school hallway between classes with 6-foot-tall boys petting them and making a fuss over them and they stay calm and just eat up the attention!”
A big thank-you hug to ambassadog Holi and all of the League’s teachers’ helpers!
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