I am Caesar, and I retired from Brighton High School in June 2019. I started our program at BAS, and I am so proud of our Pack!
I am Alley, and I work at Brighton High School!
I am Keeper, and I work at Brighton High School!
I am Jack, and I am currently in training to work at the High School.
Oakland Press News: 4/18/10
GENOA TWP. (AP) -- Caesar greets students getting off the buses in the morning with a "woof."
He gives kisses and gets hugs.
He sits with children in the library and listens to them reading aloud, and he's helped some students with behavioral issues turn things around. He also makes the rounds and delivers birthday cards with a piece of candy.
Most importantly, Caesar lifts students' spirits at Maltby Intermediate School, just west of Brighton in Genoa Township. He's basically a huggable, lovable dog that makes all the students smile and has helped some students.
Local businesspeople donated money to train Caesar, who began working this year as a full-time facility therapy dog, which means he's assigned to everyone in the building and not an individual person. While other schools have used therapy dogs, school officials said the Brighton Area Schools system is the first district in Michigan to actually own a therapy dog.
"He makes me feel better inside," sixth-grader Alexis McCray said.
The 12-year-old Maltby student had behavioral issues and was struggling in school when special-education teacher Karen Storey created a program for McCray, which included visiting with Caesar each morning starting in January.
Storey said Caesar has helped McCray, who is reading more and has improved her behavior.
"I pet him, I talk to him," McCray said. "I tell him about my homework."
She loves it when Caesar places his head on her lap and looks up at her while she's reading aloud. She even went online to research dogs and learned they can pick up on how a person is feeling.
Storey said using Caesar to improve McCray's behavior has worked well.
"She has turned herself around," Storey said.
Storey believes therapy dogs like Caesar work because they provide "unconditional love" to the students, which puts them at ease.
"Caesar is not going to judge them; he's not going to correct them," Storey said.
She said students get excited as soon as they see the dog, yelling out his name and rushing up to him.
"They just light up," Storey said.
Caesar works while he's at the school. After greeting students getting off the buses, he spends an hour with McCray and then spends two hours in the media center, where students read to him. Trained parent volunteers accompany Caesar to the media center. He later visits classrooms. The dog stays with Storey during the school hours and lives with Cindy and Rich Adams, both of whom work at Maltby. All three helped train Caesar.
As part of activities held around National Reading Month in March of each year, the school rallies around reading and holds numerous activities, including bake sales, to raise money to purchase a therapy dog for another county resident. One year, the school raised $15,000 to train and purchase a therapy dog for a local high school student.
Storey said students, parents and staff do this as a "pay it forward" act.
"It takes a community to raise a child," Storey said.
This year, the school raised $5,100, and the students read 585,185 minutes.
Recently, the school held a handing-over-the-leash ceremony to recognize the local businesses that helped purchase Caesar. Last year, Storey said, members of the Brighton community showed their support by contributing $7,000 to train Caesar.
Storey said the training funds came from chiropractor Eric Duncan, dentist Brian Petersburg, Pet Supplies Plus and Little Caesars. Nutro Pet Products is donating food, and Brighton Animal Hospital will provide veterinary services for free. Storey named the dog after the pizza chain.