MILROY - Milroy Charter School first-grader Brynea Shofner was excited last Friday because it was finally her turn to take a plush tan-colored stuffed puppy named Ralph home for the weekend.
In the last few weeks, the cherished "pet" of the first-graders has been fishing at Lake Ladyslipper, catching candy at the Southwest Minnesota State University homecoming parade, camping and out to the Minnesota State Fair.
And he still has many more adventures to go.
Anna Vogel poses with Ralph.
Ralph came to the first-grade classroom at the beginning of the school year. Darci Tietz, first-grade teacher, said the puppy goes home with a student every weekend.
"I like the fact that students have to share and do a little reporting on their own," Tietz said.
Tietz and the students also keep the Milroy community apprised of Ralph's journeys through the town's newsletter.
When Ralph comes back to the classroom on Mondays, the kids learn about his travels, his favorite meal and where he slept. The child who hosted Ralph will write about what they did, what they ate and take a photo.
The page will then be included in an ongoing memory book about Ralph's travels.
Katie Goblish brought Ralph all the way to the Minnesota State Fair. She said they went to the art building and the Helping Hands for Kids building.
Nicholas Schmitt bundled up with Ralph at the SMSU Homecoming parade on a cold Saturday morning.
"He got some candy, Tootsie Rolls," Schmitt said.
Kelly Pape said she took Ralph camping at a farm.
"He liked to sit on the hay bale and he liked to play with the baby kitten," Pape said.
Lauren Zick said Ralph played with her and her friends Kelly and James.
"They got to hug Ralph," Zick said.
Anna Krause said Ralph helped make apple cupcakes while he stayed with her family. It was also a special occasion.
"He ate the cupcakes, he delivered them to Redwood (Falls) to other people's houses for my birthday," Krause said.
Halle Imker said she took Ralph outside on the swings, mainly the baby swing for him.
"And he went on the tire swings," Imker said.
Tietz took Ralph home on Halloween. She said Ralph got to meet Pax the Panda, the Wabasso School kindergarten class' traveling pet. Tietz's son had the panda home that weekend.
"Ralph met a new friend," Tietz said.
Anna Vogel said she brought Ralph to visit her grandma.
"She said he looks cute," Vogel said.
"We went shopping," Lauren Leach said of her travels with Ralph. "He went to get a balloon."
Brandon Duscher brought Ralph out fishing.
"He rode in the boat, and I think he caught a fish," Duscher said.
During the week, Ralph stays in the classroom.
"Some kids read to him at storytime," Tietz said.
"He watched us if we were naughty or not," Zick said.
But what if Ralph's naughty? questioned Leach. The kids didn't really know.
"Ralph will tell you," Vogel said.
When Shofner returned with Ralph this past Monday, she told her classmates she made cookies with him and brought him to church.
Ralph hasn't been out of Minnesota yet, but the students have a few places they wish Ralph could go, such as the North Pole, Disneyworld, the Mall of America, Yellowstone, Texas, or the Omaha Zoo.