Teacher’s Pet

A menagerie of critters keep teachers grounded.

December 11, 2018

We asked teachers to send in pictures of their pets along with a summary of how the animal is special and helps them in their profession.



Andrew Cerny, Grade 7/8, Balmoral Middle School, Calgary

Gurumarra is a northern blue-tongued skink — very unique. He has an extremely inquisitive nature that, combined with a strong determination, generally means he will find a way to get wherever he wants to go. Gurumarra enjoys snuggling into the crook of an arm or climbing up and wrapping around the back of your neck — looking over his perch on your shoulders and getting nose and head rubs.

Being able to spend some daily time with Gurumarra is a great way to relax and­de-stress — either having him cuddle or watching him explore as he climbs over you and his surroundings. Along with being a personal pet, Gurumarra is also one of the resident classroom pets. He provides the students (and staff) with someone to interact with for positive mental and emotional well-being as well as happily being used in examples for a variety of lessons relating to ecosystems, adaptations and heat movement (using his enclosure).


Anisa Mary Ramia, science and physics, Notre Dame High School, Calgary

Zorba is 14 years old; I’ve had him since he was six weeks old. He’s special because his favourite foods are cabbage, frozen peas and stale Timbits. He helps me by providing therapy after a long day and sleeping on errant marking.

Sir Leopold Leopardbottom

Chana MacDonald, Grade 6–8 French immersion, Pioneer Middle School, Rocky Mountain House

What makes him special? Obviously he’s adorable, but the way his bum twitches when he gets a banana slice, the way his tail wags when he gets a new toy and he zooms down the hall. He’s got such a playful personality!

How does he help me in my profession? He never fails to put a smile on my face. A nudge to my leg at feeding time is all I need for the stress of the day to melt away!


Crystal Clarke, Grade 6 and 7, French immersion math and science, Central Middle School, Red Deer

I moved here with my family from Québec in August. We were looking for a change of scenery and new challenges! Rosie, my basset hound, made the 4,600 kilometre drive out here with us, happily. But, sadly, Rosie passed away suddenly on Sept. 20. We were heartbroken.

She was so special: she was my best friend and my confidant. She was always there, tail wagging, when I arrived from school. She took all of my fatigue and stress away immediately. She was so in tune with me when I had a bad day, and she always knew when it was time to go for a walk or just cuddle on the sofa.

She helped me so much as a teacher because she taught me about patience, compassion and giving. She was the most selfless being I knew; she would have done anything for us. We miss her so much.


April Aitken, assistant principal, S. Bruce Smith School, Edmonton

Daisy is a mini Labradoodle. She is special in a million ways, but mostly in that she greets me with unconditional love no matter what kind of day I’m having. She has tons of energy, which means I have to walk her daily. This helps me deal with all kinds of work stress!


Missy Steeves, Grade 9 humanities, Sturgeon School Division (currently seconded to the Alberta Assessment Consortium)

This was Sherpa. She was a Himalayan cat.

All my students know about this sweet cat, and that she was my “fur baby” long before I ever had my son. My favourite story about Sherpa was when I once had a student move to another school division mid-year. He just so happened to end up in the class of a colleague from my graduate cohort. Her first conversation with him was about his “cat lady” teacher from his other school. Imagine his surprise!

Sadly Sherpa passed away last year, but she will forever live on in my heart. 


Murray Lalonde, math, physical education, H.A. Kostash School, Smoky Lake

Although Ella, a Great Pyrenees dog, has been mistaken for a polar bear, my daughter calls her “The 130 pound cuddle puddle.” She protects my horses from predators, she welcomes visitors with her resounding bark, and she has an unending, unconditional love for her family.

Ella helps me in my teaching profession by providing catharsis after a rough day. She helps me with marking assessments by providing a disapproving look when I am thinking of leaving it for tomorrow, but is more than happy if procrastinating involves going for a walk.


Steve Glowa, junior high math, St. Monica School, Calgary

My wife and I always say that we were lucky that Titan found us. We’ve had him for five years and adopted him from the Cochrane Area Humane Society when he was two years old. He was the longest resident at the shelter, and the staff said it was probably because of the breed (German Shepherd/Akita).

As we all know with this profession that we love, we do need to take time to do the things that keep us balanced. Titan is like a fine-tuned Breitling watch. He knows when I need a break. I am so grateful to be living in Cochrane because I have the Bow River right in front of my house with many kilometres of hiking and nature trails. This picture was taken by his favourite spot to swim or relax on the shore to chew sticks, or for me to just stop and listen to the water rolling over the rocks and the songbirds singing in the trees. He has also been my pre-warning sign in a couple of instances during some of our early morning runs when we have encountered a black bear here and there along our routes.


Valerie Fuchshuber, Sir Wilfrid Laurier School, Calgary

Clare is a senior-citizen Newfoundland who is almost 13 years old, extremely old for this breed! She is 145 pounds of unconditional love and patience. Newfies adore children of all ages and are wonderful role models for not only teachers, but for all humanity.

Jon, Richie and Annie

Chantel Werner, assistant principal, Westboro Elementary School, Sherwood Park

My pets are special because they each have a unique personality and fill a special niche in our family for each of our family members. There is nothing better than coming home to them after a long day. They make me feel as if I’m the most important person to them.

Flock to Facebook for more furry photos!

Check out the ATA’s Facebook page for a photo gallery containing additional Teacher’s Pet submissions: www.facebook.com/ABteachers

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