Prince will be retiring from his duties at Portage High School in Portage, Indiana at the end of the school year. He served the staff and students for four-and-a-half years and is prominently displayed in the school's yearbook. But what is odd about this is that Prince is a Golden Retriever and worked as a therapy dog at the school.
The yearbook staff did not initially plan to include the nine-year-old Golden in the pages of the school's yearbook, but once they discovered that he had taken a picture with the other students at the school, they could not resist. "The students really love Prince and they've come to see him as a part of our family at our school," said Melissa Deavers-Lowie, the yearbook advisor and journalism teacher at the school. "We've never done anything like this but it was a nice way to say good bye to Prince."
Prince rode to school every day with his owner Tim Kunstek, Portage High School's Counselor. Each morning, he would great the students as they arrived at school. He also sat in on counseling sessions with Kunstek and his students and even patrolled the hallways, making sure that the kids were going to class. He also got the chance to hang out in the cafeteria during lunchtime. "Kids would sit on the floor and feed him Tater Tots and other treats, but he started gaining weight, so we scaled back on that," said Kunstek.
Prince also traveled for his job, making the trip to Sandy Hook Elementary School to ensure that the children had a smooth transition back to school. He was one of the Comfort Dogs that made the trip. "The kids at Sandy Hook loved him and all the other therapy dogs so much that Lutheran Church Charities is now trying to raise money for therapy dogs at Sandy Hook," said Kunstek.
During the graduation ceremony, Prince led the class of 2013 onto the football field. He was dressed for the part in a custom-made red cap and gown.
Following his retirement, Prince plans to continue to work part time, possibly with kids. He will be replaced with a 1-year-old Golden named Isaiah. "There's something really calming about Golden Retrievers; they have a big effect on people," said Kunstek.