Veterinary Practices students holding the new dog

Teachers and instructors at Jefferson-Lewis BOCES leave a lasting impact on the lives of their students. Sometimes, those same students have a similar impact on their instructors.

Following the loss of two of her dogs within a six month span, students in Blake Place’s Veterinary Practices class at the Howard G. Sackett Technical Center in Glenfield decided to surprise her with a new canine companion.

Seniors in the class met in secret and pooled their resources together to purchase a purebred dog for Ms. Place. The effort was spearheaded by Hunter Taylor, a senior from Beaver River, and Taylor Conway, a senior from Adirondack. The students used some of the curriculum they studied in class to help choose the right dog for their teacher. They had learned about the American Kennel Club and what are classified as the seven groups of dogs. They include toy, hound, herding, non-sporting, sporting, terrier and working. The working group generally includes dogs that are bred over the years to perform a specific job or purpose, such as protecting other animals.

“We had a unit in class on dog breeds and I knew she was a goat farmer, so I took all that into consideration when looking at the different types of breeds available,” said Hunter. 

The research determined that a breeder located in West Virginia had the dog the students were looking for. Hunter, along with his mother and brother, made the trip south during the February break, and returned home with an 11 week old Great Pyrenees puppy. The puppy was presented to Ms. Place at the start of class on February 27. 

“I was shocked,” said Ms. Place. “I did not know I needed a new puppy until I got her. She has been named Virginia and I will never forget the kindness that my students showed.”

According to Ms. Place, Virginia will be used as a guardian for her herd of goats, although she is currently learning to be a protection and guardian dog for the family.   Once fully trained, Virginia will be able to ward off predators, help identify sick animals and warn of any problems around the farm. 

Ms. Place also wanted to thank the other seniors in her class who helped with the surprise. They are Sierra Nuffer, Britney Swiernik, Justin Nellenback, Lauren Salmon, Brooke Steiner, Shelby Townsend, Josh West and Noah Brouty.