Dogs have helped their humans cope throughout the pandemic. But one California shelter dog has gone above and beyond by helping her kindergarten teacher-owner teach virtual classes.
“I tell people you haven’t lived until you’ve had a kindergarten Zoom or Google Meet,” Jessie Bekkedahl told PEOPLE. “They show you their pet or put their face WAY into the screen. Or they’ll just go off on a tangent and talk about their grandma and Sea World and random stuff.”
So Bekkedahl enlisted the help of her 3-year-old rescued Corgi mix, Ginger, to help keep her young students on track. Now “Professor Ginger,” who was adopted several years ago from a local shelter, has taken a leading role in teaching Bekkedahl’s young students to count, recognize shapes, and learn their ABCs.
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Sometimes, “Professor Ginger” is also accompanied by her dog and cat siblings, Hannah and Axel. But Ginger is clearly the star of the show. That’s because Ginger, who worked as Bekkedahl’s classroom therapy pet before Covid put classes online, is an eager, friendly, and enthusiastic pupil. Also, Bekkedahl uses toys and treats to keep her furry assistant engaged.
Not only is Professor’s Ginger joy at being included in these backyard classes apparent, but it’s also infectious. According to Bekkedahl, her kindergartners are more interested in videos where Professor Ginger takes an active role.
“I noticed anytime I make a video where it’s interactive, where they have to guess along with Ginger, they’re engaged a lot more,” the teacher told PEOPLE. “They pay attention to her way more than they do me.”
You don’t have to be a student at Emerson Elementary School, where Professor Ginger and her owner work, to enjoy the dog’s lessons, which are posted for free on her YouTube channel. After all, learning your ABCs is always better when there’s a rescued dog involved. Thanks, Professor Ginger!