A team of adorable therapy dogs that helped the surviving students of 2018's Parkland shooting was honored with their own page in the school's yearbook.
It has been over a year since a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018. Seventeen students and staff members were killed in one of the worst mass shootings in the U.S.
After the shooting, fourteen dogs were enlisted to help students cope in the aftermath as they mourned the loss of their friends and classmates.
The high school's yearbook staff, headed by adviser and journalism teacher Sarah Lerner and rising editor-in-chief Caitlynn Tibbetts, featured the dogs who managed to bring out smiles as students struggled to go about their daily lives in the wake of the shooting.
Lerner told Buzzfeed that "there's nothing a dog can't fix."
"I'll be teaching and in comes a dog and these big 18-year-old adults all the sudden become mushy 5-year-old kids and it's been such a comfort for us."
Tibbetts, a 17-year-old junior, described putting the yearbook together after the tragedy as being a "balancing act."
"After the shooting we wanted that yearbook to be perfect and had to cover as much as possible."
"This year, we wanted to give proper representation of our school and who we are now without giving so much focus to what happened to us in the past. The therapy dogs are the one thing from last year that is permanent and positive."
The dogs often greeted the students in campus hallways and outside the cafeteria and lifted people's spirits, merely by their furry presence.
They continued emotionally supporting Parkland students and staff who grappled with the suicides of two Parkland teens, a slew of false fire alarms and the first anniversary of the shooting.
The puppy feature in the yearbook was a way to recognize these dependable animals, thanks to Lerner who came up with the idea.
"I told one of their handlers about it and next thing I know I had 15 dogs in the room. We sat them up on chairs, they were smiling for the camera. It was the greatest day of my life."
You would think therapy dogs would make you smile, but this lot sure do bring on the waterworks.
But for that, we're grateful.
Tibbetts explained how therapeutic it has been having the four-legged friends around campus.
"It was such a mood lifter. Including them was a really good representation of our school and what we have gone through. Seeing them is something we look forward to every day. These dogs are going to be there until the last of us are gone."
These dogs also proved to be expert photographic subjects during their photo sessions in October.
This year's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School yearbook theme is "It All Depends," and does not feature the victims who were in 2018's yearbook.
However, there are snippets of tributes and photos of memorials woven throughout the 2019 edition with the concept focusing more on a celebration.
Lerner said of her yearbook staff:
"It's hard to be here some days because of the trauma and reliving and revisiting things. I couldn't be prouder of my students and the yearbook they put together. Honestly, it's my favorite. We have a different perspective on things now, and it's not just a yearbook — it's a record of history."
If the dogs were under consideration for class superlatives, they most definitely would win for most popular and most adorable, paws-down.