ATA News

Teacher's pet

We asked teachers to send in pictures of their pets along with an explanation of how the animal helps them in their profession

Yellow lab seated in front of a mountain lake in the fall proudly holding a big stick.


Simba is a golden lab and golden retriever mix. Simba is a local celebrity in our community and is a friend to all the children. His unconditional love is a joy to come home to after a long school day. His love for the outdoors gets us out for a variety of walks in the evenings, which is a great way to decompress after work!

Kirsten Chornawka
Grades 8–10, math and science
Harry Collinge High School, Hinton



Black and white poodle cross dog sitting with his tongue out and wearing a yellow polka dot tie.
Angie Roppo-Bustillo French as a second language, wellness, Fully Alive St. Timothy Catholic School, Edmonton  

Chico is a Berna–doodle that belongs to my daughter Amanda, but I get to dog sit when she is busy with school and/or work. He is special because he is cuddly, cute and constantly getting into something or other. He keeps me active too.

Chico helps me in my profession as I can always start a dialogue with many of my students about their pet dogs and we immediately form a dog bond. We share silly stories and fun facts about what our dogs do or have done, and we always share a laugh or two.


Black and white tuxedo cat with vibrant yellow eyes seated in a black and white tote bag.
Kristen Lien Grade 2 French immersion Holy Child School, Edmonton  

Fred greets me at the door when I get home and instantly helps any stress from the day disappear. If he could, he would come to school with me, as I often find him trying to sneak into my school bags. He also “helps” by reminding me to leave my school work at school by shredding any work I bring home — sorry kiddo, my cat ate your homework! (true story).


small brown and black tabby cat wearing a superman sweater looks back over his shoulder.
Mai-Lynn McEwen, Grade 5 St. Theresa School, Wabasca  

Leo is a very special kitty, to me and to all the classes that I have taught over the past eight years. 

First, my students helped me find him! I was teaching in the northern community of Fort McKay when I decided that it was time to get a new fur baby. My students and I checked the Edmonton Humane Society’s website every other day for over two months looking for the perfect match. When we came across Leo, we knew that we had found him.

Leo was a street cat. He was in pretty rough shape and was also polydactyl — he was a mutant kitty with 28 toes! 

My class and I discussed how important it is to help rescue animals. We then tied that into finding ways to help the most vulnerable people/animals in our community. We also discussed the importance of accepting people/animals for who they are and that being different is 100 per cent OK! 

Leo helps my students see me as an individual and a regular person, not just as their teacher. He also reminds my students that everyone is on a different life journey and we all deserve to feel safe and be loved.


Shih tzu wearing a yellow rain coat looks off into the distance in front of a lighthouse on a mossy ground.
Julia Davis, Grade 8 St. Helena Junior High, Calgary  

Wicket is a four-year-old shih tzu who is sweet, friendly and playful. When he’s not road tripping across the country with me (two-month coast-to-coast camping trip last summer), he’s a volunteer therapy dog with the Pet Access League Society (PALS). He works hard and absolutely loves his job. 

He always has time for a cuddle with me after a long day at school too! This photo is from our summer road trip — Wicket at the Bonavista Lighthouse in Newfoundland.


Young Doberman cross dog lays alert posing in the grass.
Tammy Thero-Soto, Assessment consultant Edmonton Public Schools  

Nouggie is a lab/shepherd cross. He is special because he is the baby of my family. He makes me feel like a new mom as he’s by my side constantly and always making me laugh.

Nouggie helps me in my profession by whining and bumping my side with his head when I’ve been looking at the screen for too long. He reminds me to take breaks and put the work away come a certain hour. He subtly suggests we need to go for a walk or play ball outside, even in the winter. 


Black and white spotted rabbit crouches next to a wall.
Caitlin Campbell, Grade 3/4  Cooper’s Crossing School, Airdrie  

Watson the Wabbit is a well-known and loved member of the Cooper’s Crossing staff. He loves to hang out with students and listen to them read. He enjoys pats and scritches as the students arrive each morning. He devours treats and his vegetables but also nibbles everything in sight (including books, paper, shoelaces, erasers and more books).

Watson provides therapeutic support to students and staff. Students who need some “chill time” love to sit next to him and read stories. He constantly makes us laugh with random binkies, giant flops, nose boops for attention, and the occasional temper tantrum if he doesn’t get his way. 


Siamese cat sleeps in an autumn coloured quilt.
Shawna Watt, Grades 10-12, special education James Fowler High School, Calgary  

Ollie, a Siamese cross, is special because he’s my source of entertainment, companionship and stress relief. I tell my students of his escapades, like eating my tomatoes, and it creates a commonality among us to discuss our pets and create a wonderful class environment.

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