1. The Education Gradebook

Spa and day care for dogs give Hudson High students a leg up on veterinary care

HUDSON — Hudson High School goes to the dogs every Friday. And the staff and students alike seem to love the experience.

Hudson High's Academy of Veterinary Assisting hosts the Doggie Spa and Doggie Day Care from 7:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. each Friday.

The spa and day care center includes grooming tables, a bathing area and a kennel area.

During that time, it's not unusual to see dogs of every breed being groomed, cleaned, walked and cared for in the school's vet assisting lab — and, on occasion, even trying to drink from the classroom drinking fountain.

You also see student volunteers learning the finer points of veterinary care.

"The kids do a great job," said Robert Herrington, a Hudson High teacher and head of the veterinary program. "They're learning the introductory skills they need to work in a veterinarian's office."

The students can, in fact, earn their certified veterinary assistant certificate at the academy. And at the doggie day spa and day care, they apply the skills they've learned to the care of pet patrons, including a good number of regulars.

There's Cinderella, a Great Dane. Pig, a pit bull/Chihuahua mix. Yeti, a Labrador shepherd. And Labradors Sheldon and Penny.

Many of the canine customers belong to students and staff members. The service is also open to the public, with donations collected going toward a new grooming table and lab equipment.

"Our goal is to have a self-sufficient veterinary academy," said Herrington. "We want to sustain ourselves."

His students have their own goals. Inspired by her involvement with the dog spa and the veterinary academy in general, senior Zoie Brayman has started her own pet grooming service.

"I do want to be a veterinarian," said Brayman, 16, the youngest student in the program to receive her CVA. "I'm interested in entrepreneurship. I want to get into it."

Ella Shiver, 15, said she has learned a variety of veterinary skills through her involvement in the doggie spa and veterinary academy — skills that include grooming, nail trimming, bathing, ear cleaning and calming.

"I love playing with the animals and being around them," the 10th-grader said. "And by working here, I can show people that I'm capable."

Amy Kurzinger, 16, also has earned her CVA through the program and wants to become an Army veterinarian.

"In this program, you can learn anything you need to know to take care of animals," Kurzinger Amy. "And I bond with each dog."