Cozy canines: Shelter dogs all bundled up thanks to students

·2 min read

SAINT JOHN • Dogs at the Saint John SPCA Animal Rescue will be a little more cozy this winter.

A group of Simonds High School students delivered Friday sweaters to 10 lucky dogs at the Saint John animal shelter. All of the sweaters were handmade by the students, who chose and bought the material, picked the pattern and sewed up each sweater.

"It's a colder season. Some of [the dogs] don't have as much hair as others do. So maybe it'll just keep them warm and stylish," said student Brooklyn Darentt.

All of the 14 students behind the sweater project are part of the Essential Skills Achievement Pathway, a different way to earn a high school diploma which doesn't use the traditional credit system. The program consists of three parts: the foundational learning binder, the post-secondary binder and the capstone project, which is specific to the specialty the student has chosen to go into after they receive their diploma, according to teacher Linda O’Blenis.

The program was launched in 2018.

The sweater project was part of the foundational learning part of the program, and the students have been working on it since the beginning of October.

"That's kind of what this whole program is about is for the kids to take the ownership and really be the driving force to what's going to happen," O'Blenis said.

She said typically the projects have to help out the school or larger community.

"I'm really proud of them for, you know, kind of starting this, coming up with the idea and really seeing them follow it through," she said.

The class is also working on a mural for the school, designing a quiet room and helping to build a stage for the school.

On Friday, Saint John SPCA shelter greeter Nicole Tarcon accepted the sweaters. Students and teachers couldn't go into the shelter to deliver them personally to the dogs because of COVID-19 restrictions, but Tarcon said the shelter was happy to receive the welcome donation.

"We're really happy to see the younger generation supporting us," she said.

"Every time a dog is outside, whether it be for a walk or playing in the yard, they wear coats in the wintertime. Just like us they can get cold, so it's important to keep them protected from the elements."

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. L'initiative de journalisme local est financée par le gouvernement du Canada.

Caitlin Dutt, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal