Kevin Skipper watched in awe as the golden retriever before him did all kinds of tricks Friday afternoon.

The Smithland Elementary School fourth-grader was particularly impressed after the dog played a drum and skateboarded.

“He knew his left and right and he played goalie like in soccer,” Kevin said. “I was amazed because dogs really aren’t supposed to do that.”

Kevin should know. He has two dogs, Weezer and George.

The golden retriever was from Peak K9s for Kids, an animal assisted self-esteem program out of Harrisonburg. It was one of many groups that stopped by Smithland to be a part of “pets, vets and veterans” day, a day for students to learn about animal careers and to recognize veterans ahead of Monday’s Veterans Day.

The event was organized by Smithland librarian Andrea Nolley and Sarah Lopacinski, advanced learning and STEM specialist.

The school has been hosting success days the last few years. Normally, this is a day when parents come to the school and talk to students about their careers.

“The idea is to get the child thinking about careers while they’re still young,” Lopacinski said.

It was Nolley’s idea to have a pet theme this year, because “who doesn’t love animals,” Lopacinski said.

Among the organizations and businesses that were present were Therapeutic Dogs International, the Harrisonburg Police Department K-9 Unit, Cat’s Cradle, Happy Hounds Doggie Day Care, Anicira, Peak K9s for Kids, a Petco pet groomer, a pet sitter and Harrisonburg Animal Hospital.

For the veterans part of the event, Commander Sgt. Major Wilde and the Harrisonburg High School JROTC were in attendance to lead the older students in patriotic songs and to talk about the holiday.

Contact Megan Williams at 574-6272 or Follow Megan on Twitter @DNR_Learn

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