REETired

It is with mixed emotions that I announce Margarita’s early retirement from Therapy Dog work. It has been decided that it is not in Margarita’s best health interest for her to receive vaccinations. Recently, her rabies titer test revealed she no longer has immunity and would require a rabies booster. Her Therapy Dog registration can not be renewed without a rabies vaccination.

Although I am saddened that she cannot carry on with official Therapy Dog visits, I’m thrilled that she can to continue to be actively involved in our online math lessons with my students for the remainder of this school year. 

In the last 4 years, Sweet Reet has formed a bond with so many individuals. In hospital and retirement home settings, she provided much comfort to the elderly. Within the school setting, she has improved students’ success socially, emotionally and cognitively. I am absolutely honored to have been a small part in the huge role she has played in making a remarkable difference in the lives of countless people of all ages. 

Some highlights from Margarita’s four years of Therapy Dog work:

  • initiated the therapy dog program in the Shamong Township School District as the district’s first Therapy Dog
  • featured in the Burlington County Times newspaper Not once …but twice!
  • participated on campus at Rowan College’s Mental Health Week event, while she helped enlighten students and staff on the positive benefits therapy dogs provide for students with depression and anxiety
  • attended YMCA Camp Ockanickon with sixth graders 
  • appeared on Action news 
  • had her very own district-approved Google Classroom
  • featured in “School Leader” – the official publication of the NJ School Boards Association 
  • participated in a 2021 Burlington County, NJ Board of Education Director’s Meeting explaining the benefits of a Therapy Dog Program in a school setting and how she was able to engage students during remote learning (Click HERE to see her slideshow)

Of all the adventures our dogs have taken me on, this — 𝘣𝘺 𝘧𝘢𝘳 — has been the most rewarding of all. I am beyond grateful to have witnessed the significant and lasting impressions Rita has made in the lives of those she visited – both in person and virtually.

In her retirement, we will attempt to accomplish the last two items of her lymphoma Adventure List. Beyond that, you’ll find her lounging on the dock, GLAMping, and visiting outdoor wineries and breweries. 

#REETired 

Shamong Township Therapy Dog Photos from Pre-Covid In-person Teaching:

Coloring pages made from photos of Rita with students:

Remote Teaching with Rita:

Virtual School Spirit Days

Shamong Township School District Staff Yearbook Photo:

Rita’s Virtual Classroom:

Rita’s Barkroom

As students and staff in my school district deal with the effects of COVID-19 and social distancing, those who have enjoyed seeing Rita around school in the past now can “visit” with Rita via her very own Google Classroom, called Rita’s Barkroom.  During this time it can be helpful to keep established connections (or make new ones) for those who don’t have access to this type of “therapy” at home.  


Rita’s Barkroom has photos and videos of Rita posted daily, keeping a positive and upbeat tone.  Rita’s Barkroom will hopefully help students and staff stay connected with Rita, bring a smile to others’ faces, and offer the benefits of therapy dog visits to the greatest extent possible right now. 

Rita’s Barkroom is private and only able to be viewed by staff and students of my school district.

Rita Goes to College!

Margarita had her “first day at college” with a great visit at Rowan College at Burlington County meeting students and staff in the Student Success Center for their Mental Health Week event, while she helped enlighten them on the positive benefits therapy dogs provide for students with depression and anxiety!

The event was sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa Chi lota Chapter and RCBC Student Support.

The first full week of October focused on increasing understanding of what mental illness feels like, so others can learn more about the wide range of symptoms experienced by those living with a mental illness.

In addition, the purpose of this week was to also reduce the misunderstanding and stigma associated with mental health conditions.

Margarita’s First Day of School

Those of you who have been following along know that Rita became a registered Therapy Dog.  My school district decided to start a Therapy Dog program, and Rita was one of the first dogs starting the program!

My students were super-excited! They made welcome signs, and we marked the calendar for her first day of school!

Students created posters and centimeter cube formations to welcome Rita to our class:

Ready for her first day of school with her Paw Patrol backpack!


Rita did very well with the kids, and the students enjoyed having Rita by their side as they practiced multiplication facts.

Rita was quite exhausted after her first day with the students, and napped her way through my Prep period.

Rita’s first day was a success – what a great program this will be for the students!