Canines Earn Top Pick as Teacher’s Favorite Pet


Rachel Walker

Puppy Love: English teacher Karen Valentine Melton and her Yorkshire terrier, Baron, are best friends.

Teachers love dogs.
Of the 54 Southfield High teachers surveyed, 14 said they own at least one dog.
Their pet pooches range from the petite Yorkshire terrier owned by English teacher Karen Valentine Melton to bigger bruisers such as a pair of Labrador retrievers owned by French teacher Emily Bailey.
“When I come home and I’m having a bad day, (my Yorkie) loves me unconditionally,” says Melton. He never gives her papers to grade, she says. “He’s sweet and loves to cuddle.”
It’s no surprise that science teacher Bruce Shepard owns a – what else? – German shepherd. Did he get a German shepherd because of his last name? “No,” he chuckles. “It was the recommendation of a friend,” says Shepard, and he’s very happy with his 8-year-old pet named Ursa. “Even when we leave the gate open, she will not leave the back yard,” Shepard brags.
And because Shepard is a teacher, he has, of course, taught his pet a few tricks: “She can roll over, sit pretty, play dead and lay down when told to,” Shepard says. And, contrary to popular belief, his dog does not eat student homework that he brings home to grade, Shepard says.
Bailey has a pair of Labradors including one chocolate lab named Sasha and one yellow lab named Connor.
“One (dog) had separation anxiety and destroyed the house,” so Bailey got a second dog to keep her other pet company. While Bailey is at work during the school day, her husband is home with the dogs. Her husband works different hours than she works.
English teacher Carla Ware Parker also has a pair of pooches at her home. “One is my dog, and the other is my foster dog from a local shelter,” said Ware-Parker.
Her dog is Natasha, a toy poodle, and the foster dog, Axel, is a pit bull and boxer mix. Ware-Parker, who has fostered dogs for the past 20 years, says she enjoys helping the animals because it is “rewarding to see the progress they make (after) coming from the shelter.”
Science teacher Kimberly Wardell-Stone is among those who have a smaller dog. Hers is a miniature schnauzer named Merlin.
And then there are those who own both a cat and a dog, including gym teacher Ernie Taber (one dog and two cats), English teacher Virna Hobbs-Calhoun (one dog and one cat) and history teacher Andrew Green (one dog and two cats).
“I feed them in the morning and hope they don’t kill each other when I get home,” says Green of his dog and cat combo.
Green said he trained his Yorkie named Lucy to use a puppy pad so that he does not have to race home from work to let the dog outside.
Apparently, dog is man’s best friend, and teacher’s best friend, too.