Apr 1, 2013 8:26 PM by Leasa Conze
TUCSON - A stray dog runs into some school children at a local park and that encounter leads to finding him a forever home.
It all started when a handful of Rio Vista Elementary School students were having fun at a nearby park while on spring break.
They found a lost boxer mix at the park and did the right thing. They called Pima Animal Care Center and while they waited for someone to arrive, they spent their time hugging and petting the friendly stray.
When they returned to school from their spring break, they shared the story of the stray dog and they showed off their cell phone videos of him to their reading tutor, Cindy Hayden.
"The kids were very protective of him and did the right thing by making sure he was taken care of," said Hayden.
The class tracked his progress on the shelter website, waiting to see if his owner would redeem him. When no one did, Hayden went to work to find the dog a good home.
It just so happened that kindergarten teacher Kellie Walsh was ready for another pet, after her boxer passed away last year.
Walsh, a teacher for about a decade, said she was touched by the dog's story and the commitment of the children.
On Thursday, she took the dog home, gave him a bath and a whole lot of love.
The stray is now called Prince, and the regal 6-year-old is now getting to know Walsh's extended family. "He's a very sweet dog," she says.
Later in the school year, he'll be making a field trip to visit the children who first found him in the park.
His plight is also becoming a teaching tool.
Walsh told her story Monday morning, April 1, to inspire a writing session for her students, and Hayden's students will be using Prince's story to write a storybook, chronicling his adventures and possibly entering that story in a writing contest.
"These students are a great example how we all have a role to play in making a difference for animals in this community," said Kim Janes, manager of Pima Animal Care Center. "It's going to take working together to make sure all animals have loving homes and we're confident Prince will live happily ever after with his new family."