Walking down the crowded halls of TC Roberson on any school day, you might be surprised to catch a glimpse a four-legged, furry visitor. However, the presence of this canine friend is nothing new; the students at Roberson have grown up with Jake the dog and his companion, junior Zoéy Lonabaugh. The two are constantly together.
Jake Lonabaugh is a 6 year-old black lab/weimaraner mix. Everyday, he acts as Zoéy’s service dog; but those who are acquainted with Zoéy are aware that Jake is better described as her best friend. He is one of two-beloved Lonabaugh family dogs, along with a dauchshund-terrier mix named Peanut.
Zoéy and Jake have been an inseparable duo since the Lonabaugh family adopted him in 2012. He joined Zoéy in 6th grade and started attending Valley Springs Middle School with her daily. To this day, Jake accompanies Zoéy everywhere she goes.
“Jake has helped me from the start. I used to have more meltdowns and wear my headphones a lot because there was just too much noise and too much happening. But now, when I don’t feel good, I can just pet Jake. He helps me calm down,” Zoéy said.
Now, halfway into their third year at TC, Zoéy and Jake have taken advantage of what Roberson has to offer. Zoéy is in the top 20 percent of her class. She said she enjoys any course that is academically challenging but is especially passionate about science. She is also involved in many extracurriculars including cross country, National Honors Society, Science National Honors Society, Environmental club, and the Hiking Club.
Roberson science teacher Lori Galbert had Zoéy and Jake last year in her Biology Honors class and still has a close relationship with Zoéy, who helps Galbert as a teacher’s aid this semester.
“Zoéy has an extremely strong science intellect and has really connected with those in our department who have had the chance to get to know her,” Galbert said
Through taking courses such as Biology and Chemistry, Zoéy has decided that in the future, she would like to go into herbatology–the study of reptiles and amphibians.
“Not plants,” Zoéy clarified.
Her box turtle, Gee, inspired her to pursue her interest in the reptilian studies.
Zoéy met one of her closest friends, Julia Hubbard, through Biology class groups. The two volunteered to paint a mural on Galbert’s wall last year. Zoéy and Hubbard would often stay after school for hours to work on their project, and bonded through talking and painting. The two are still good friends today.
“When you get to know Zoéy, she is very funny, charming and intelligent. She became our hero in biology; she would always volunteer to present first or share the answers that no one else knew. I think great teachers like Galbert really helped her come out of her shell,” Hubbard said.
Outside of school, Zoéy and Jake spend almost all of their free time outdoors adventuring on the Mountains-to-Sea trail or around the parkway.
“Jake likes chasing squirrels and digging holes, but he is not the best at swimming. We try to go running, hiking, or mountain biking everyday,” Zoéy said.
Since her sophomore year, Zoéy has been involved in the cross country program. She decided to join so that Jake would have more time to exercise. The two enjoy the team’s arboretum runs and can be seen enjoying the trails at their own pace.
“I wanted to do cross country because I heard they go to Bent Creek, which is my favorite; it was really fun. Whenever we go running, Jake likes to bolt off, but he always comes back,” Zoéy said.
Even though the duo prefers to forgo races, Zoéy and Jake are still a large part of the team. Jake acts as their unofficial mascot, a friendly face that encourages the athletes to keep going when the trails get tough.
Aside from their day-to-day routines, Zoéy said that Jake and their love for the outdoors is what keeps them rooted. Although not sure where she would like to go to college, Zoéy knows for sure that she and Jake want to stay in the mountains.
All possibilities aside, Zoéy is certain that Jake will being spreading smiles for the rest of their days together.