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The City Journals

Riverton resident donates support dog to Kauri Sue student

May 07, 2018 12:47PM ● By Jennifer Gardiner

Kemry Smith, her family and Tammy Hansen at the Riverton event. (Photo Courtesy Jordan School District)

Riverton resident Tammy Hansen felt so strongly about special needs students benefiting from having a canine companion, she got involved and donated one to a special student at the Kauri Sue Hamilton School in Riverton.

The idea came about when Hansen realized how many students at the Kauri Sue Hamilton School could benefit from the companionship of a puppy and decided to do something about it.

“We have been raising dogs for a few years, and our first one was donated to us,” Hansen said. “We said from that day we would donate a puppy sometime. My husband is disabled; we have seen what a therapy support dog has done for him and decided that is what we wanted to do for a person with special needs.”

Hansen contacted the school and spoke with the principal and asked her if she knew of any individual or family who could benefit from a companion dog. She also put a request on her business website and asked people to nominate a family or individual. From there, she narrowed it to a few families. 

“We then sent them a questionnaire asking them specific questions about owning a dog and the financial and emotional support for the life of the puppy or dog,” Hansen said. “When we received this special family and their daughter’s questionnaire, we had to make a personal visit. After that visit, we decided this family and their daughter would be the ideal family to receive Mr. Blue as a forever companion.”

The recipient of the new puppy, Kemry Smith, comes from a big family, and Hansen said the love and attention for Kemry were very prevalent.

“I knew then Mr. Blue was going to help each person and provide attention for each person in the family,” said Hansen. “After being with Kemry during our visit, I saw Mr. Blue calm her seizures. I saw her laugh, and (her) mom said that doesn't happen very often.”

The day of the donation, Hansen said she knew Kemry was aware that Mr. Blue was hers.

“She took my finger and kept looking up at me, and I knew she was saying thank you,” Hansen said. “My family and their love and support and the effect it has had on them were priceless.”

Hansen said many individuals have to wait years and can’t afford the dog or training. There are service dogs, therapy dogs, emotional dogs, companion dogs and so many more, and within each category there are many different types of dogs doing amazing things for people, specific to their individual needs.

“All the puppies are well socialized with many different people, children and animals,” Hansen said. “We positively introduce all the puppies to many sounds, surfaces, textures, places, people, teeth brushing, nail care and grooming; and to different types of crate training, supervised puppy play courses and car rides to public places that allow animals.”

Hansen said they have wanted to do this for a long time and have decided that Karui Sue Hamilton is a place they will continue to support and use to give back to the community.

“Kauri Sue Hamilton School is an inspiring school with a wonderful staff and administers with a beautiful vision, and all the students are angels,” Hansen said. “They do not have a PTA that helps them (with) fundraising activities, and they really look to the community for help and support.”

In addition, Hansen raised enough money from generous donors to provide Mr. Blue's new forever friend with a dog kennel, food, veterinarian care, training, food and water bowls, and much more. Hansen said the donations and support others gave in this project was more than she could have imagined.

“I am just so thankful the principal at Kauri Sue Hamilton was willing to meet with me and help me with this project, and to my wonderful husband who supported me with this project,” Hansen said. “A huge thank you to Mr. Blue. I have spoken with Kemry’s mom, and Blue is a part of the family already. One day when Kemry was laying on the bed, he tucks himself under her like a pillow and let her lay on him. Blue has a heart and willingness to serve.”

Those interested in helping or to learn more about the new program can visit the Tender Little Paws Facebook page.