BY: Emily Polston
Tango has a lot in common with most highschool students at Jenks. She sleeps in class, she has dress code, and she wears an ID. But she’s different in one key way; she’s a dog.
If you see a girl with a dog walking around Jenks High School, that’s most likely senior Keddi Cunningham. She LOVES dogs and fell in love with one named Tango.
It all started when Cunningham tagged along with a friend from Bishop Kelly on a thursday night to go to one of their meetings for training service dogs. Keddi absolutely loved it so she decided to sign up. That’s when she met Tango. Tango is a black lab who is a “senior” at Jenks High School this year. “First year, last year”, as Keddi said. Keddi has had Tango for three months and will be keeping her for another year and a half. There’s training meetings every Thursday night for Tango to learn new things throughout the week. Tango is training to be a mobility dog. Therefore, Tango will pick up things for their person, get water for you, open doors or press the handicap button. Things that would be difficult for someone in a wheelchair to do.
Like most of us, Tango sleeps in class and even has a school ID. She’s very quiet but also attentive.
Some of you may not know but you’re actually not supposed to pet a service dog.
“If you were to pet a service dog, it would be distracting it,” Keddi explains. “When people make kissy noises or things like that when i’m walking through the hallway, that’s distracting her as well.”
Distracting a service dog wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do since it’s consistently helping their person.
This is why Tango has on a vest that says “Service Dog. Do Not Pet.” or “Please don’t pet me. I’m working” Keddi says that it can get a little awkward at times when she asks people politely not to pet Tango. “She is still in training though so she can be pet sometimes, just not consistently”.
Keddi explained to me that she has three other dogs at home and when Tango goes home with Keddi, she’s just like the other dogs. Tango knows the difference on when she is working and when she isn’t. She can tell a difference when her vest is on and when it’s not.
I asked Keddi if it would be hard letting Tango go, “… absolutely. It’s going to be really difficult letting Tango go in a year and a half. I’ll probably cry a lot but I’ll cope with just getting another dog to train.” Since Therapetics is a non profit organization, when Tango is fully trained service dog, she will be assigned a person and it won’t cost a dime to get Tango .. which in my opinion is amazing. Keddi will have to spend 100 hours with that person and Tango to teach all of the things that she is trained to do.
Do you like dogs? Do you need service hours? If both your answers are YES, then I’ve got just the thing for you! It’s called Therapetics Service Dogs of Oklahoma and you can volunteer to help train a service dog, dog sit, assist with special events and fundraising, etc. It’s so easy to sign up! You just fill out a form on Therapetics.org and they will get into contact with you and find some sort of way to get you involved