There’s a new furry face greeting Mill Creek students this year.
Tank, a two-year-old yellow lab, is the new therapy dog making his rounds through the school providing a calming presence and encouraging students in solving the emotional problems they may face. Tank’s training and care is sponsored by Dexter Rotary Club and he is the second service dog Rotary has provided to Mill Creek.
The program began in 2010 with Dexter, a 19-month-old black lab, by then Rotary President Steve Gergely and Mill Creek’s forward thinking Principal Jami Bronson. Rotary raised the $8,000 necessary to purchase, train and house Dexter the intention being that it would be no cost to the school.
Dexter was an immediate success and wildly popular with both the school and community. Local businesses that stepped forward to donate their services for the care of Dexter included Dexter Pharmacy, Lane Animal Hospital, Village Animal Clinic of Dexter, Dexter Dog Grooming, Canidae Corp. and Dexter Mill. Everyone was heartbroken when Dexter’s health declined and he passed away earlier this year.
Enter Tank, who was donated by Jami Bronson to succeed Dexter. Enter Dexter’s Rotarians who once again took it upon themselves to fund Tank’s training and care.
Picking up where Dexter left off, Tank greets students as they arrive in the morning and is there to see them off at the end of the day. Throughout the day Tank is a comfort and companion to students who will often talk to Tank when they are uncomfortable speaking to an adult. Tank calmly listens and loves to be petted.
Tank is trained by Skip Brewster. Now retired from the Washtenaw county Sheriff Department, Skip donates his time working with Tank. Millcreek teacher Andy Damman allows Tank to crash at his pad evening and weekends.
Fred Schmid, a member of the Dexter Rotary committee overseeing Tank, tells us “The Rotary Club is committed to providing all necessary services for Tank at no cost to the school.” Other Rotarians working with Fred in regards to Tank are Stephanie Klawender, Fred Fahrner, Quaila Pant, and Gil Campbell.
And so we leave Tank for now, visiting class rooms, listening as students read or talk to him, greeting kids, faculty and guests, providing calm and comfort for everyone he meets, and in many ways perhaps fulfilling that old much-needed role of “Best Friend.”