There's been an addition to the student body at Ben Hill Middle School. But this is no typical backpack-toting teen aimlessly wandering the halls in search of Spanish class.
The new classmate is a 12-year-old miniature pinscher named Parris who arrived at the school Wednesday, Feb. 27, bringing a valuable lesson about caring.
Given up by his previous family because of financial hardship, Parris was suffering from heartworm disease when he was dropped off at Hillsborough County Animal Services.
However, Parris came with a special talent that Animal Services Director Ian Hallett recognized could be of great value.
Parris is a trained service dog for the hearing impaired.
Hallett and Hillsborough County Commission chairman Ken Hagan worked through the red tape so that the dog could be adopted by the middle school to assist the school's hearing-impaired students.
The school and school district agreed to provide for the dog's care.
When Parris arrived at the school at 5200 Erlich Rd., Tampa, Wednesday morning, a group of excited students was on hand to welcome him to his new home.
The hearing-impaired students and their teacher, Teri Nicas, will take turns taking him home at night and weekends. However, he will spend the day with the students at the school where he'll not only be teacher's pet but class pet as well.