That’s what friends are for

Mr. Cotreau, Dallas help make Watertown Middle School a better place


“Physically my life is different, but a lot of good has come out of it,” said Chris Cotreau.

Mr. Cotreau is an instructional assistant at Watertown Middle School. In 1992, the year Mr. Cotreau turned 26, his first year out of college, he had a diving accident that changed his life forever. He was paralyzed from the neck down, which made him unable to walk or run without crutches.

In 2003, an organization called Paws for a Cause gave him Dallas, who is a certified service dog. There is a process that has to be done before the dog can arrive. The organization videotaped Mr. Cotreau’s house and made a model of it so that Dallas could get used to the set-up.

“He’s my buddy. I take him everywhere,” said Mr. Cotreau.

Dallas isn’t just an ordinary dog, he’s like family. Dallas has been to the World Series, Celtics playoff games, over 50 Red Sox-Yankees games, and a lot of concerts.

Sadly, Dallas will be retiring this year. But he will still be at the school as a therapy dog, which means his working jacket will be removed and he will get as much love and care. Dallas will be working with the autistic children in the I.E.S. room.

There will be a new dog in April named Tanner, who is a yellow lab. He will be coming — if he passes all the tests.

Mr. Cotreau is very excited for the new dog. He will start by teaching him the basic commands and soon Tanner will be able to get drinks, open close doors, and get Mr. Cotreau’s shoes and crutches. But Dallas will still be living with him, too!

Mr. Cotreau explained how having the dog makes it easier for people to deal with people with disabilities.

“Kids sometimes aren’t comfortable until they see I have the dog,” he said.

If you come to Watertown Middle School, you will always see Mr. Cotreau helping a student, and Dallas right by his side. They’re a part of not only the school, but the community.

— March 7, 2010–