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No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you! There is a furry little student who is gracing us with his presence at EC, and his name is Rufus.

Rufus is the product of a dream the High School Intro to Psychology class had back in February. The juniors and seniors in the class were brainstorming to solve some new generational problems emerging in learning and development of children. In our research, we stumbled upon some very cool ideas about introducing a dog to a school. Schools are embracing therapy dogs, companion dogs for various disabilities and fun “puppy visits” to combat stress during exams. After considering all the possibilities, these genius EC students recognized the intrinsic value of collectively nurturing and raising a dog in community as a path to healthier development.

After much research and careful planning, we pulled a few strings to lay the groundwork for our first huge psychology experiment. And yes, he is adorable.

Rufus has been donated by Steve Quilliam of Grateful Doggie Rescue Retreat. Steve has rescued thousands of dogs from kill shelters all over the country, including post-hurricane Puerto Rico, in an attempt to save lives. A sad fact to think about: over 750,000 dogs were euthanized last year. Grateful Doggies welcomes host families and adoptees to meet their pups every Saturday afternoon at JB Pet Store in Hawthorne. Feel free to go meet Steve and his team of mainly volunteers and a few staff members as they work to eradicate this social problem. Thanks Steve! Here is a site to support Grateful Doggie’s mission: Go plant some sunflowers!

Armed with prayer, a dream, and hours of research, we made a decision. The EC Middle School Campus will become the host site for this wiggly addition to our Middle School family in the fall 2018.

A Boy and His Dog

Isaac Hennessy is the targeted recipient of this trained companion once our mission is accomplished. An EC third grade student, Isaac is diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He is very excited to have a faithful companion help him with daily activities and provide some much needed comfort. The middle schoolers will join a MAD (Make A Difference) group headed by 7th and 8th grade Bible teacher Betsy Tyvoll. Students will learn about dog training and put their knowledge into practice. Advice, contacts, and speakers are always appreciated, so please reach out to Dawn Heerema if you would like to be a part of this amazing adventure. Thanks Isaac, for letting us be part of your story!

Together, EC students can give a lasting gift of love for their classmate, and in the process we all will benefit from problem solving, community enrichment activities, discipline, and nurturing as we work toward a collective goal. This project will bridge the high school and the middle school to develop a new partnership as we work to raise this puppy into a working companion for the Hennessy family. A special shout out of thanks to the Steen family who are hosting Rufus as he attends school. Maybe Rufus can teach us all a little something about how God created us all to lean into one another in times of weakness. We can act as Hur and Aaron for Moses. Exodus 17:12, “When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up–one on one side, one on the other–so that his hands remained steady till sunset.”

We look forward to steadying Isaac together, and we humbly stand to his right and left in solidarity as he faces his health battle. Good luck Rufus! These are some big shoes for those little paws.

Follow Rufus

Believe it or not, Rufus has his own instagram account! You can follow along in the life and training of our favorite furry friend at