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Meet Maize and Russell – Homewood’s School Dogs

Last Spring, Homewood City Schools had two administrators apply to be guardians of a school dog, and almost a year later, we are excited to welcome Maize to Hall-Kent Elementary School and Russell to Shades Cahaba Elementary School.


As employees of the school who dress in a Facility Dog vest, Maize and Russell work daily in their buildings. They have schedules and are a resource for teachers and students. When Maize and Russell are finished working, their vest comes off and they return home with their Guardians as the playful and loving family pet.  


Goals of having an intervention school dog are to help reduce stress, create opportunities for inclusion and participation for all students, deflect any opportunities for conflict, and assist in diffusing defiant or disruptive behaviors. Maize and Russell will be non judgemental, kind to all and great listeners.


School intervention dogs are trained for pattern disruption. They recognize emotional distress in a student (or teacher) by sight and smell, and they will intervene with a trained response in order allow the child's mind to re-focus on participation in their class,” explained Frances McGowin, Executive Director at Service Dogs Alabama.  School dogs can help build healthy attachments, increase verbal interactions, develop recreation skills, boost self-esteem, decrease anxieties, reduce loneliness and improve attention skills.


Service Dogs Alabama

Service Dogs Alabama provides the training for school dogs and Guardians. Homewood City Schools is thankful for their guidance and assistance. For more information on Service Dogs Alabama, please visit their website:


What is the difference between a traditional service dog and a school/facility dog?

Service Dogs are trained to perform specific tasks that may assist their individual handlers’ need or disability. Most service dogs have a “no petting” policy established by their owners. School or facility dogs also receive specialized training, but with additional cues and commands to work in a school setting with a variety of people. School dogs interact with groups of people while they are working. Both human and animal care guidelines have been initiated at each of the schools for the students and teachers.


Meet Maize

Maize is a two-year-old black Golden Retriever mix. She was trained by Service Dogs Alabama and came to Hall-Kent Elementary School in November, 2018.  Hall-Kent Principal, Kiana Coleman, is Maize’s Guardian. Maize is loved by the students! She enjoys visiting the classrooms and giving the students high fives.


Meet Russell

Russell is a two and a half year old black Labrador Retriever. He was trained by Service Dogs Alabama, and came to Shades Cahaba Elementary School in January, 2019.  Russell fit right in at Shades Cahaba and is already part of the Shades Cahaba family.. Shades Cahaba Principal, Dr. John Lowry, is Russell’s Guardian.


Special thanks to Homewood Animal Hospital

Homewood City Schools would like to thank Homewood Animal Hospital for their partnership with our school dogs program.  Dr. Mike Killgore, Dr. Meghan Harrison, and Dr. Kerri Murphy will be providing the veterinary services for Homewood’s dogs.