When this puppy mill dog was rescued, she couldn't stand humans. But just look at her now.

When Coconut the dog was rescued, no one knew if she could be helped at all. But a new rehab program run by the ASPCA means more dogs will have a chance to live and be loved.

This is Coconut the dog. She loves getting lots of attention from her family.

Getting some love from her new family. Image by ASPCA.


Her person says: “She adds so much to our life, she really does. … She's absolutely wonderful."

But she wasn't always like this. Coconut had a rough start in life.

Coconut was born in a puppy mill — a large-scale commercial breeding operation where the health of dogs is not a concern. Conditions are disgusting and the treatment of dogs is horrible. As a result, many of the dogs have serious health and socialization issues.

Coconut was terrified of human touch before she was rescued by the ASPCA. Image by ASPCA.

After her rescue, Coconut couldn't stand to be touched by anyone. She was in seriously bad shape — so bad that she couldn't be put up for adoption.

The ASPCA rescued Coconut and more than 150 other dogs from a puppy mill in Michigan. But even outside the puppy mill setting, Coconut was very scared and couldn't stand to be touched by anyone.

Even outside the puppy mill, Coconut couldn't handle being around humans. Image via ASPCA.

There was simply no way she would've been able to handle becoming a family pet right off the bat.

“These dogs have been kept in isolation," said Kristen Collins of the ASPCA. She said that just because the dogs were rescued doesn't mean they're ready for a new home. “They needed extra help, and [in the past] there really wasn't anywhere for them to go."

Years ago, Coconut may have been out of luck. She may have spent years in a shelter, or simply been euthanized because she was too afraid of people.

Luckily for Coconut, the ASPCA recently opened a behavioral rehab center.

In March 2013, the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center opened in New Jersey to help traumatized dogs (either homeless or from cases of cruelty) get ready for adoption. It's the first facility in the country that's dedicated strictly to helping rescued dogs heal their behavioral problems. And so far, more than 200 dogs have graduated from the program.

By week three at the facility, Coconut was letting people touch her — cautiously, but it was a huge step forward.

Coconut tentatively sniffs Kristen's hand. Image by ASPCA.

By week six at the facility, Coconut had learned to actively seek touch when she wanted it (and she learned that getting pets and lovin' is awesome).

Is this the same dog?! Image via ASPCA.

Most dogs take about 12 weeks to make it through the rehab center's program. Coconut's rapid recovery was super impressive. Soon, she was ready to go to her new home.

Coconut's story has a happy ending.

Coconut is now a very social dog. She lives with a family that loves and pets her all the time, and gives her plenty of treats.


Let's all say it together now: awwwwww. Check out Coconut's whole story in the ASPCA's video.

What's the lesson to learn from Coconut?

Kristen Collins says it best: “I think that the main thing to take away ... is that these animals can be helped. And we will try our best to help all of them."

"These animals can be helped. And we will try our best to help all of them."
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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

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In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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