Dogs, Students Teach Each Other

MARCH 3, 2006 -- One look around and it's clear to see a class at Ashley High School has gone to the dogs

"Everybody I talk to wants to be in this program because it has dogs. They don't realize all the work," says student John Cribb.

The dogs are in training. The students are their teachers. The rescued pooches will eventually go to homes where they can use their skills to help the disabled, but the dogs have already in some respects rescued these students

"It's helped me a lot to stay out of trouble, got me more friendly really. I went from making C's and D's to straight A's, so I'm happy," says Cribb.

The program called P.A.W.S., Positive Achievement With Students, aims to keep high school kids out of the dog house. If they get into trouble, they're out of the program.

"Now I think before I act. That's what everyone has always told me to do and now I'm putting it to good use," says student Jessie Gibbs.

Responsibility and patience yields companionship. It's just one of the rewards for students on both ends of the leash.

Students are selected to take part in the P.A.W.S. program and work with the dogs in the mornings four days a week. The dogs live with foster families while they're being trained. Instructors say it's the only program of its kind in North Carolina schools, but they hope it catches on.

Reported by Kim Lehman