The tale of a stray boxer mix named Prince had a fairytale finish, thanks to kids and teachers at Rio Vista Elementary School.

Cindy Hayden, a part-time teacher who tutors first- through fifth-grade English language learners in writing and reading at the Amphitheater Unified School District school, was at the center of a chain of events that led to the rescue.

It started with her students finding the dog March 23 in a park and led to her co-worker, kindergarten teacher Kellie Walsh, adopting Prince March 28, the day he was set to be euthanized.

Several of Hayden's students were at a birthday party at Limberlost Family Park, at East Limberlost Drive and North Fourth Avenue. They saw Prince, a stray dog who was limping and lying down against a wall.

One of the kids' older sisters called the Pima Animal Care Center, which captured and held the dog, naming him Prince because he was discovered at the park near Prince Road and Prince Elementary School.

Dismayed, the students told Hayden about Prince at school the following week. Hayden eased their fears by assuring the students that she would help find Prince a home before it was too late.

Hayden, who owns four dogs and does not have room for another, kept an eye on Prince's listing on PACC's website, and worked on lining up foster care for Prince.

The day before he was scheduled to be put down, she sent an email to co-workers, asking if anyone could take him.

That's when Walsh - who had been looking to get a new dog after one in her family had died last year - agreed to take him in.

"I cried," Hayden said when Walsh volunteered to take Prince. "I was so happy."

Walsh, 37, spent more than $350 in veterinarian bills, which included neutering, as well as medication to battle kennel cough.

"When I first got him he was very sad and crying. He's come pretty far," Walsh said. "He's been great. He is a doll. Just a really sweet dog."

Walsh has shared the story with her students.

"I showed the class the dog's picture on the smartboard, and we did a writing lesson about it the Monday after I got the dog," she said. "I will bring him into school to meet the students that found him."

Hayden, 64, has used Prince as a case study to weave the realities of pet ownership into her lessons.

"It's just such a great story," Hayden said. "I incorporated a whole unit about rescue dogs and responsible pet ownership."

The most important lesson, Hayden said, is about the importance of taking action.

"What I really liked was the whole aspect of getting involved," Hayden said. "Don't just stand on the sidelines and do nothing."

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or