Rescued Puppy Melts Teenage Hearts

Sligo rests after a long day of work as Loyolas soon-to-be third therapy dog.

Margaret McGovern

Sligo rests after a long day of work as Loyola’s soon-to-be third therapy dog.

Margaret McGovern, Writer

Dog therapy is a deeply cherished part of Loyola Academy counseling program, and a new Bernese Mountain puppy is joining the ranks of existing therapy dogs Teagan and Tipp. 

Selina McGuire, who heads the dog therapy program at Loyola, recently rescued puppy Sligo. However, not many know the sad story behind his wagging tail and excited barking. 

His mom belonged to an Amish puppy mill, where up to a hundred dogs are kept shut away in a crowded barn, barely able to see the sun, except for when they are brought out to breed with each other. 

The desired puppies are sold to the highest bidder after birth, and eventually the parents are disposed of once they have been used to the fullest extent. 

At the time that McGuire’s breeder rescued Sligo’s mom from here, she was 45 pounds underweight and pregnant, unable to give birth until she was brought to a calmer environment. 

She gave birth to ten puppies, although two died immediately. The remaining eight weren’t in very good condition. 

Sligo, one of these puppies, was only five ounces at birth, although healthy Bernese puppies are 25-30 ounces. His rescuers weren’t sure if Sligo would even make it. 

McGuire was already interested in rescuing another puppy when her breeder called with the chance to rescue a puppy in desperate need of a loving owner. She drove to her breeder the next day.

“There were all these puppies,” she said, “and he went running right for me. It’s like we were just meant to be.” 

McGuire took Sligo home that day. Her vet, once having examined Sligo, told McGuire to double the amount of food she was feeding him in order to do this.

Sligo, who had been eating the same amount of food as fully grown, 110 pound Teagen, is now eating double that.

Despite this, McGuire is still unsure that Sligo will ever be able to catch up to where he is supposed to be. 

Sligo is currently in classes to become a therapy dog. Although he hasn’t completed them yet, McGuire brings him into the building every so often. 

She says it’s important for him to be in a school environment like that so he can get used to being around the noise and people. And of course, the students love seeing him. 

“Sligo is just this bundle of energy and joy… I love seeing the joy in everyone’s faces,” McGuire said about the students that come to see Sligo when he’s at school. 

Since Sligo was introduced to Loyola, students always make time to come and see him when he’s in the building. 

Junior Megan Bailey enjoys sitting in the dog room. She loves visiting Sligo when he is in school. “Sligo is a great contribution to the school because he helps make so many students happy with his positive presence,” she says. 

As soon as he completes his training, Sligo will officially become Loyola’s third therapy dog, and will continue to bring his positive presence to the community, despite the difficulty of his past.