A new fluffy face arrives on KO campus

Features

KO students filter in and out of the House all day, backpacks pressing up against each other, cluttering the already narrow stairwells and foyers of the old building. The school day can be tiring, and fighting through the halls of the House does not come close to alleviating the exhaustion. But recently, as students climb the stairs to history Department Chair and teacher David Baker’s classroom, they are greeted by a new, comforting face.

Dobby, the blind labradoodle of Mr. Baker and Dean of Students and science teacher Kata Baker, has arrived on the KO campus, and his presence is a welcome addition to H-122. Mr. Baker and his students seem to both appreciate the dog’s cheerful energy. “I have noticed some students really gravitate towards him and love seeing him,” Mr. Baker remarked, playing with Dobby as he talked, “and it’s kind of a nice way to start class. You know, you walk in and it’s not like, ‘Oh, another class’. It’s like, ‘Oh, Dobby!’”

The Bakers got Dobby in 2011 but weren’t able to bring him to school for a long time as school policy dictated that pets weren’t allowed on campus. However, when rules were updated during COVID that allowed service dogs and therapy dogs on campus with approval from the school, Mr. and Ms. Baker still weren’t able to bring Dobby to KO. 

“He was at home with my youngest, Andrew, and Andrew’s daycare provider,” Mr. Baker explained, “and our daycare provider really liked him being there for safety reasons and just felt comforted, kind of like he was a guard dog. Andrew loves Dobby too.” This year, however, Andrew started preschool, and Mr. Baker was finally able to bring Dobby to KO.

Dobby’s sudden arrival on campus was also partially due to Mr. Baker’s worry that being alone at home all day (since Andrew and his care provider would no longer be present) would have a negative effect on the labradoodle, especially because of his disability. Dobby is blind and has no eyes. At nine years old, he developed glaucoma, an eye condition that damages the optic nerve by increasing pressure in the eye. Dobby got headaches and began losing vision; when Dobby could no longer see out of both of his eyes, the Bakers removed them so they wouldn’t cause him any more pain. “With his loss of eyesight, I think I got more connected with him because I needed to help him,” Mr. Baker remarked. “So I sat down and thought about it, and was like, ‘I want him here with me.’”

Mr. Baker is very fond of Dobby. When Dobby gets lost or confused navigating the new environment that is H-122, bumping into the desks and circling around the open space in the center of the room aimlessly, Mr. Baker makes noises like clicks and whistles to grab his attention and guides him back to his side, giving him loving pats and rubs on his head when he finds his way to Mr. Baker. The help goes both ways: Mr. Baker said that having Dobby around has helped Mr. Baker feel more at home at KO and that Dobby has helped to lower his stress and anxiety levels. “I was the one who wanted him and needed him,” he said when asked about why Dobby stayed in his room instead of Ms. Baker’s. “I was the one who really looked into it and spent time talking to my doctor about it.”

As the saying goes, a dog is a man’s best friend. Dobby makes Mr. Baker feel even more at home on campus, and it can be said for sure that Mr. Baker’s students adore having Dobby in class.