COLUMBUS, Ga. – It isn’t about 101 Dalmatians, it’s about just one. A special dog named Clyde and his owner Scott Balkcum.
When Scott Balkcum and his dog Clyde enter a classroom, the magic begins. “The first thing I notice is the smile, ear to ear, big smile, big eyes.” Says Balkcum.
Clyde and Scott belong to a non-profit group called Pet Partners. They certify pet owners and their animals to go into settings like classrooms, hospitals and retirement homes to lift spirits and make folks feel better.
“It’s first graders all the way up to when we go to assisted living, the seniors. They really enjoy when they see the animal come in, and it brightens their day.” Says Balkcum
Scott volunteers regulary to visit places like Ms. Tracy Cutt’s first grade class at Downtown Magnet Academy and he’s always accompanied by Clyde.
“How old is Clyde? Clyde’s three. So a few more years and he’ll start first grade.” Do you know how old he’d be in human years? 21!”
Ms. Cutt’s first graders had to complete a reading assignment first before getting to see Clyde in action.
“They really want to get to the end and pet him, so they focus on the task at hand which is reading, getting through their vocab words, doing their spelling, and then they get to play with him, get to see him do his tricks.”
“Something’s on fire. What do you do? Stop, drop and roll. That’s right. Fire! Good boy. Speak, speak. Good boy.”
Clyde is obviously very comfortable around kids, but Scott says Clyde’s spots change when he’s at home.
“From sun up to sundown he’s ready to go. He’s ready to run. He’s ready to play. He’s a mess, but he’s my mess and I love him. He’s definitely man’s best friend.”