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IPS school memorializes therapy dog that died in cancer battle

Remembering Bodhi, IPS school therapy dog

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Kids and teachers at George Washington Carver Montessori School 87 on Friday remembered their pet therapy dog.

He was a part of the Indianapolis Public Schools facility at 2411 Indianapolis Ave. for six years before he lost his battle with cancer. His name was Bodhi.

Students and faculty packed the school’s gymnasium for a memorial service in his honor.

“He was our friend, he was our companion and he was a part of our school family,” said the school’s principal, Mark Nardo. “We miss him every day.”

Bodhi belonged to Courtney Hedges, a teacher at the school.

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“There was a student who was having a bad day, and Bodhi never licked a kid but he knew that day that kid needed a lick on the face,” Courtney said. “He licked him and he went about the rest of the day fine and happy.”

Bodhi made so much of an impact, a class of students at the school inspired an author to write a book about him called “Bodhi the Dog that Went to School.”

“It was just a labor of love,” author D.E. Magee said. “I came in one day to read another book that I had written for my grandson and the kids said you need to write a book about Bodhi so I did.”

Indiana Canine Assistance Network, which prepares therapy dogs to make an impact in schools across Indiana, trained Bodhi.

“They go through two years of training and through that training they can do a multitude of things to get kiddos through their day,” said Sandi Holibuk, director of the network.

“It’s heartwarming,” Holibuk said about Bodhi’s interaction with the kids and staff. “The amount of dogs out there that touch hundreds of kids every day in facilities it’s awesome.”

The school collected funds from students, families and staff to help the network with the cost of training another therapy dog for someone else. They donated nearly $700 to the program so that Indiana Canine Assistance Network can continue to help kids at more Indiana schools.

At a later date, the school will plant a tree and install a memorial marker in Bodhi’s honor.

When the school contacted the Thomas Monument Co. about a paying for a memorial marker for Bodhi, the business decided to give it to the school for free.

“He still has an impact on our building today,” the school principal said. “His presence is definitely felt.”

(Photo Provided/ Carrie Cline Black of Indianapolis Public Schools)