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Contributed photo by Chrissy Joy / Maryland dog trainer Chrissy Joy stopped to entertain students delayed when their bus hit a ditch at the base of Lookout Mountain on March 7, 2022. Joy and three of her champion trick dogs were in Chattanooga to film a commercial.

Chrissy Joy has embraced her last name as a life hack.

Spreading "joy," she said, makes life better. For example, about once a week, Joy offers her credit card while in line for fast food to buy breakfast for a stranger, she said.

"My goal is to spread positivity," she said in a telephone interview.

Which brings us to Joy's recent visit to Chattanooga. She was here on the first weekend in March filming a television commercial with some of her award-winning trick dogs. Contractually, she can't name the company until the ads air, she said. Her 2-year-old border collie, Whidbey, was cast in the commercial for his ability to ride a skateboard.

Joy, a 34-year-old Maryland resident, said it was her lifelong dream to train dogs, and she has managed to build a career around her passion. Her dogs, which have won multiple world and national trick competitions, have appeared in commercials, television shows and movies. Last year, her dogs were one of the acts on "America's Got Talent" on NBC.

She was here filming the TV spot with three of her dogs when production wrapped early on Monday, March 7. Joy, who travels with her animals in a van, said she decided on a whim to drive up Lookout Mountain for a little sightseeing, although it was a windy, rainy day.

On the way up, she noticed a bus from Columbia Academy (in Middle Tennessee) stranded near the bottom of the mountain. One of the bus's wheels had dropped off into a ditch, and the students were gloomily waiting on the side of the road until a tow truck arrived.

"Twenty kids were standing on the side of the road being rained on," Joy said. "They looked miserable. I rolled down the window, [and asked], 'Do you guys want to meet some celebrity dogs?'"

Of course, they said yes.

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Follow Chrissy Joy and her champion trick dogs on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok as @thejoycrew and @thechrissyjoy.

Ashley Gilles, a spokesperson for the Christian school in Columbia, Tennessee, said the students were here on a field trip to visit Chattanooga's Charles H. Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center.

Specifically, she said the busload of gifted students were gathering information on John Harlan Willis, a United States Navy hospital corpsman from Columbia who was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism after he died at the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.

Whey Joy saw the high-school students, she immediately felt the impulse to spread joy. And she knew she had three friends in the back that could do just that.

There was Beasley, 7-year-old international trick dog champion, who is the brains of the bunch. One of Beasley's tricks is holding a paw over his eyes to look embarrassed. He can also play the "Connect 4" kids game and pretend to type on a computer. Whidbey had his skateboard, and Darbie, a border collie, is expert at catching a flying disc, among other feats of athleticism.

Once the dogs started performing their tricks on the side of the road, the students' mood lifted immediately.

Gilles said one of the students later told her parents that interacting with Joy's dogs made it "the best day of her life."

For her part, Joy said seeing the teens smile again was all the payback she needed.

"There is something so genuine about the kids. They were so humble, and grateful," she said.

Sometimes, all it takes is seeing a dog do a walking handstand to change your whole day.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPcolumnist.

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