Water splashed into the stainless-steel tub in Kristen Rike’s classroom as pre–veterinary students practiced their dog washing skills. This is in preparation for the upcoming opening of Pampered Pooches.
Pampered Pooches is a dog washing station and student training lab that will officially open next school year.
The Pre-Veterinary Academy at HCISD allows students to discover, learn, and practice their true passions.
“We are getting hands-on experience,” Harlingen South junior Michelle McFarland said. “I am interested in this career because the dogs are not able to talk to us, and helping someone who isn’t able to help themselves, I just love it.”
Going through the program while in high school, allows students to figure out what they like and might not like about a career in veterinary science before they get to college.
“I joined the program because I wanted to work at a shelter,” Harlingen South junior Jareli Sanchez said. “It seems like the most worked with animals are dogs. I am more interested in working with cats and zoo animals – the crazy animals, and fish.”
The new stainless-steel tub installed in teacher Kristen Rike’s classroom at Harlingen High School South is a central component of the student training lab which was made possible through grants from the National Future Farmers of America Organization and Tractor Supply Company.
The goal of opening this dog washing station is to help students develop the hands-on skills needed to pursue a career in veterinary science.
“The students that are going through the program have a long-term goal to either become a veterinarian technician or a veterinarian,” Rike said. “So, this is kind of that first step, the entry doorway that allows them into that field.”
Pampered Pooches will open up in stages. They will begin by offering services only to Harlingen South staff. Later, they plan to expand their services to district-wide staff, and eventually, as students establish the workload, they hope to offer this opportunity to the entire city.
“We are going to take 10 dogs every Tuesday and Thursday every other week,” Rike said. “The students will go through and just do basic care and bath. No dipping or grooming unless it’s just sanitary. There is no charge, but of course, the small print does ask for donations, so we can keep the system going. Other than that, it is more of a learning process for the kiddos to get those hands-on experiences with the dogs and with clients.”
The student training lab will allow students to practice the various job skills needed at a veterinary clinic.
“When we have the lab, they will rotate through,” Rike said. “So, I will have a set of kids doing pre-bath skills, another doing post-bath, another doing bath skills, and then we’ll have our one manager that oversees everybody, just like if they were in the clinic. We will also have our receptionist and our intake people, so they get to learn all the different aspects.”
Students in the Pre-Veterinary Academy have an opportunity to earn certification by the time they graduate high school. Pampered Pooches will further prepare students who want to pursue a career in veterinary science.
“I love taking care of animals, and I love interacting with people; this is kind of the best way to get a little of both worlds,” Harlingen South junior Naelynn Jimenez said. “We learn to cut nails, do simple injections, and things like that. It’s cool when you see something in a textbook, and then you get to go in person and actually experience it.”