After Gemma Dunne took the upsetting decision to have her dog Charlie put down, she was understandably in pieces. And when the teacher found herself back at school just days later, she struggled to hide her grief from her students. Then she received a letter from a nine-year-old boy that left her broken.
Dunne is a teacher at St Michael’s Primary School in the city of Glasgow, Scotland. There, she is in charge of Year Five – the equivalent of fourth grade in the United States. With some boisterous kids presumably among her charges, it’s likely Dunne’s job could be rather demanding.
However, in February 2018 something happened to make the teacher’s job even harder. A tragedy at home left Dunne struggling to “get through the end of the day,” she told Today that same month.
Back at home, Dunne and her family owned an adorable golden retriever called Charlie. However, when the dog was just 18 months old, vets discovered he had a tumor that was affecting his heart. And that was worrying news for both Charlie and his owners.
Sadly, the growth was inoperable. And as a result, vets had little option but to put Charlie down. Naturally, the decision left Dunne and her family utterly heartbroken. However, they found that their lives had to go on.
With that in mind, just three days after her dog’s diagnosis, Dunne found herself stood in front of her class of nine- and ten-year-olds once more. To the children, it was just an ordinary Monday morning. But for their teacher, nothing about it felt normal at all.
Understandably, Charlie was still uppermost in Dunne’s mind. So much so, in fact, that she decided she had to tell her pupils about what had happened to her dog over the weekend. “I could see my students, they looked a wee bit upset because they could tell I was upset,” she explained.
Since Charlie had been such a big part of the teacher’s life, her class knew all about the dog too. Dunne revealed, “I felt I had to tell them. They knew Charlie because I had talked about him so often and they had seen so many photos and videos.”
After explaining why she was a little withdrawn, then, Dunne got back to work educating her class. “To be honest, I just wanted to get through the end of the day at the time,” she confessed.
However, little did Dunne know that her news had had a profound effect on one of her students. Little Callum Ferguson was so touched by the news of Charlie’s passing that the nine-year-old decided to reach out to his teacher with a poem.
Ferguson spent the majority of his day perfecting his poem before handing it over to Dunne. On the front of his card, Ferguson had written, “To Mrs. Dunne, sorry if you don’t like it or it makes you emotional.” Over the page, meanwhile, his moving missive began with the words, “I’m sorry about your dog.”
Inside the card, Ferguson had penned a touching acrostic poem which spelled out Charlie’s name. Each line listed a quality the dog possessed according to each letter. So, in Ferguson’s eyes, the dog was “Cheeky, Happy, Adorable, Relative, Lucky, Incredible and Energetic.”
After pointing out some of Charlie’s key attributes, Ferguson concluded, “But most of all, I know your dog was special and your dog is in a better place and is looking over you. Charlie was a great dog. From Callum.” Moreover, Ferguson’s thoughtfulness certainly resonated with his emotional teacher.
Indeed, in February 2018 Dunne confessed to The Scottish Sun that Ferguson’s poem had left her “in tears.” When she got home, the teacher shared her student’s moving verse with her family, including her 20-year-old daughter Lucie.