A Montgomery County special education teacher employs a special assistant named Bogie to teach valuable lessons.
Mitzvah Heroes: This is a tale of a Wolf and a dog — and an incredible journey both are taking to help kids with special needs. Leslie Wolf is a Montgomery County teacher for the "emotional support" classroom at Fort Washington Elementary School. Bogie, a 3-year-old Golden Doodle, is her special assistant.
What It’s All About: For the past year, Bogie (“Short for Bogart — as in Humphrey,” says his owner) has been working with Wolf, teacher assistant Sue Chiriano and student teacher Paige Budin. Wolf knew Bogie had it in him to become certified as a Canine Good Citizen Therapy Dog: "He’s a special dog; he has a good heart,” she says. Bogie acts as a sounding board for the children who share their stories with him and see him as a role model of good behavior. He's rewarded by being petted, which the kids love to do, says Wolf, who has been teaching special-needs children in Montgomery County and, before that, in Philadelphia, for the past 30 years.
Not a One-Time Thing: Bogie is a regular at the Fort Washington school, working Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, known as BBOF (Bogie Barks on Friday). Here's barking at you, kids? On BBOF, students are taught to turn their backs when Bogie barks incessantly. When they do, he stops, offering an example of how being too demanding can be counterproductive.
Though Wolf plans to retire this June, there will still be work for Bogie. In fact, he “freelances” at other jobs right now. Wolf said her husband, Bob, takes their dog to visit special-needs kids in Bucks County, hospices and nursing homes for a "Reading With Fido" program.
Good for Her: Sometimes working with Bogie is a special treat. On Nov. 17, Wolf and her canine companion will visit 3-year-old grandson Akiva Levine’s school to show what a therapy dog can do to help others.
“It’s Bogie visits Torah Academy,” she says, proud to show off “the little light he gives off.”
She recalled how Bogie once calmed down a youngster in the Fort Washington Elementary class “by licking her tears."
“Bogie is definitely a mitzvah dog."