Small Change, Big Lessons for Kindergarten Helping Hurt Animals

April 26, 2010 | By Margo Ann Sullivan | Category: Charity | 17 comments
Tags: charity

Jolly, the dog whose leg was saved by surgery because of the kind-hearted generosity of local schoolchildren, enjoys the holidays. (Photo Courtesy of Barbara McClenaghan)

PLAISTOW, N.H. ─ First-grader Chassity Gregoire remembers a special day last year. “It was like a bright sunny day,” she said, when Jolly the dog came to thank the Pollard School kindergarten. The children helped pay for surgery that saved his front leg.

Chassity and the other students, then in teacher Toniann Hamilton’s kindergarten, lined up around the flagpole “where all the flowers were sprouting,” and met the dog whose cause they had adopted.

“He was nice and calm, and he didn’t bark, really,” Chassity said. “He wagged his tail when we patted him.”

But Chassity and classmate Ryan Hogan, both 7, noticed Jolly was hurting, even though he wagged his tail.

“He was bending [the paw] a little,” Chassity said.

“He looked in pain,” said Ryan. “I felt sorry for him.”

Doctors suspected they might be forced to amputate Jolly’s leg, according to Kim Lynch, a veterinary technician at Plaistow-Kingston Animal Medical Center, where the operation was performed last summer. But the surgery worked, and the dog, a five-year-old Black Lab/Australian Shepherd mix, is using the leg, although he does hop up and down stairs on three limbs, instead of all four, his new owner, Barbara McClenaghan, said.

“Right now, it looks great,” McClenaghan said. “He’s building muscle. That leg’s a little thinner than the others, but he’s wagging his tail.”

McClenaghan, who fostered the dog before she officially adopted him, took Jolly to Cape Cod after the surgery, and he spent a quiet summer at the beach recuperating.

“His right front leg bones are dislocated from the shoulder; they stick out and are still hanging, but that doesn’t stop him,” she said. “He’s a very happy dog... and how he’s still happy after what he went through is amazing.”

A happy ending for Jolly did not seem possible a little more than a year ago. The dog was living in distressing conditions, chained to a couch and starving to death. After an alert neighbor reported the case of animal abuse, Jolly was rescued and delivered to Puppy Angels.

The dog has gained back 30 pounds, McClenaghan said.

Puppy Angels arranged for most of his treatment at the Plaistow hospital; Concord’s Cilley Veterinary Clinic donated the dental surgery, according to McClenaghan. Jolly’s teeth were so bad they had to be removed.

The gums healed, and he eats regular dry dog food, McClenaghan said.

And then the kindergarten class chipped in a bit extra.

The kindergarten raised $88 for Jolly’s medical bills after one of the children suggested donating their small change to help an animal, Hamilton said.

The children brought pennies, nickels and dimes to school for a weeklong lesson in counting, she said. Most of the lesson focused on calculating the number of coins they collected, but they also added up the value and decided how to use the money, she said. One of the youngsters felt the money should go to an animal shelter. He said the “poor animals never get any help,” she said, and the other children agreed.

That weekend, Hamilton happened to see a story about Jolly in a community newspaper. She cut out his picture and pinned it on the bulletin board.

Once the class saw Jolly’s picture, the lesson came to life, she said.

“They had been bringing in a couple of pennies at a time,” she said, and sometimes they would forget to bring anything. But once Jolly became part of the lesson, the children had a stake in the assignment.

“It became a lot more personal,” she said, as students would announce, “I’ve got a quarter for Jolly.” Some even brought a dollar, and the parents became involved with the dog’s story, too.

Hamilton chipped in the extra $12 to make the donation an even $100 after the class let her know $88 would not be a big enough gesture.

Hamilton said the children told her, “You can just put in the rest to make it $100.” The children also drew pictures and wrote poems to send Jolly with their gift.

Jolly was supposed to go back to Pollard School after the surgery, according to Sherry Morrall, the Puppy Angels executive director. But he needed an additional operation to remove bad teeth and the school year ended before he was well enough to go back and see the youngsters.

Hamilton put the news about Jolly on the bulletin board, so the students would know he came through all the surgery successfully. Some of the youngsters kept asking her about the dog.

Jolly might go back someday to see the Pollard School children, Morrall said. Meanwhile, the new kindergarten is counting small change, Hamilton said, and they will be donating the money to Puppy Angels to help another dog in need.

“We’re saving money for animals at a pound,” said Mikayla Cross, 6.

“And there’s the chart,” said Idabelle Bradstreet, 5, pointing out the colorful tally on the classroom bulletin board.

As of Monday, April 19, the afternoon kindergarten had collected 441 coins worth $22.85, Hamilton said.

Math lessons work better with a dog in the equation, according to Hamilton.

“They relate it to something tangible,” she said.

How to Help

To donate to Puppy Angels, visit their website at and use the PayPal link, or write to the organization at Puppy Angels Rescue, Hopkinton, NH, 03229.

Comments (17)

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5 years ago

That is such a sweet story! What a wonderful life lesson for those kids!

Good Point | Reply ›

Denise L.

Denise L.
5 years ago

AWWWW!!!!! I really think all school lessons plans should include something about kindness to animals & include fundraisers!

Good Point | Reply ›

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