Cleaning DogsAt the Edison Academy in Fairfax County, students get much more than the three “R”s; reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic, they get hands on training to go out in the real world and for students enrolled in the two-year Animal Sciences program also get to help foster and shelter dogs get ready to find new homes.  One Saturday a month students help to bath and groom dogs in foster care at area shelters and rescues.

“It doesn’t seem like a lot at first to just clean a dog,” said senior Emily Patnode, 18. “But if you were to go to a shelter, you’d pick the clean dogs first.”

“The biggest thing you see is that the dogs that are hit by cars or are left by their owners, they’re not afraid of you,” Patnode said. “They’re so ready to forgive.”

The Saturday dog washing began last year as a way to help students gain community service credits for school, teacher Karen Nestlerode said.

“I had a couple of kids that needed a community service project,” she said. “They wanted to raise money, but I said, ‘You guys have skills. You should put them to use.’ “

The dogs have their nails trimmed, ears cleaned, are bathed and groomed and the program has met with a high rate of success in higher adoption rates for dogs.

“Obviously it’s not just that they look good,” Nestlerode said. “Some of them need haircuts because they’re so badly matted. And they need to smell good and not all doggy.”

Not only is the program good for the dogs, it’s good for the students too, a big win all around.

“This class helps me interact more with animals, learn how they react to others and each other,” said junior Crystal Ronan, 17, from Lee High School. “I love animals.”

What an excellent program!  Aside from the fact that this will help to find more home for more dogs desperate to find a home, it will teach these youths so much.  It will teach them to love and care about animals and also give them some real hands on experience to go out into the real world today right out of a high school environment which is as far as many students have a chance to go. Big kudos to the students and everyone who made a program like this a reality!

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