Meet Amber: The Next Marley


@amberkapela on Instagram

Sophia Lopez, Features Editor

2020 was a year that marked many significant losses, including the beloved school dog Marley, who had been helping students and staff for 12 years. The question, Will there be a new dog at Charter? was put on pause while other matters were attended to: the accommodation of online school and the resumption of in-person learning later on. The answer to the question came sooner than expected. With the help of freshman Victoria Goyanes, a puppy became the newest addition to the Charter family. 

 Victoria has been fostering animals since last October, but her familiarity with the Humane Society stretches back to when she adopted her Maltese. She has cared for 3-4 puppy litters, with her most recent litter being a mom and three puppies.

“People come up to me and ask, ‘Oh you foster dogs? ‘ and I say ‘YEAH I foster dogs.’ It’s a lot of work, especially when they aren’t as reliant on their mom anymore,” Goyanes says. 

Through Chemistry teacher Ms. Pardo, AICE Marine Teacher, Mr. Kapela, heard of the available puppies. As the late Marley’s owner, Kapela is responsible for the next candidate to meet the necessary health and personality requirements needed in an emotional support dog. 

After looking through pictures and meeting the puppies in person, a decision was reached. 

Amber was chosen: a mix between a Labrador and an American Bulldog. Her blinking blue eyes, sandy coat, and white little paws made her the center of attention upon her arrival.

Regarding the litter, Kapela originally chose the oldest pup, christened “El Gordo.” He showed signs of friendliness and looked like the perfect comfort companion. However, his high energy would cause him to squirm whenever picked up; the attention was then turned to the runt of the litter. 

The little girl was small and very quiet. Where she lacked intensity she made up with her interest in humans and a delight in being picked up: signs of promise. 

“Amber will come and go with me everyday,” Kapela says. “I’ll bring her on campus during summer so that she gets more used to kids here at camp.” 

Glad that he found a compatible match so quickly, he states,“The purpose here is for an emotional support dog. If we have a student in distress, what makes you feel better than a loving little dog?” 

It’s been proven that sitting with a trained dog reduces stress and lowers heart rate; Amber will be trained to become Charter’s next emotional support canine, or ESK9. 

When the time came to return the foster dogs back to the shelter, Victoria found difficulty in parting with them, especially the mom, Heaven. In contrast to other mothers, Heaven was very open to Victoria handling her puppies, and very friendly towards her keepers and other dogs.

Victoria wanted to do more. She became Heaven’s sponsor, meaning her adoption is completely paid for. 

“Puppies will get adopted super fast, but with older dogs, it’s a lot harder because no one knows a lot about them.” she says sadly. “Adult dogs from the Humane Society always come trained and already free, they have the best personalities and are so grateful that you’re there for them and you took them in.”

 “You have to advocate for them,” Victoria says passionately. 

Although adult dogs are Victoria’s preference, she knew Kapela was looking for a young puppy to properly train on human interaction. She is very excited to see Amber growing up around campus while helping others.  

Amber now faces the empty spot left behind by Marley, whose comforting presence for over a decade is extremely missed. 

“Marley was for my son, who was autistic and handicapped; the dog gave him courage throughout the day. At that time, if someone asked me if I was going to get another dog when Marley passed away, I would’ve definitely said no,” Kapela admitted. 

Amber will continue Marley’s positive impact on the school.  In the words of her new owner, her good qualities are “calmness, a greater interest in people compared to her brothers, being smaller and likes to be handled.”

With the proper training, she continues to fill the hearts of those who get to know her, and comfort the many generations of Jags to come. 

Follow her on Instagram @amberkapela