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Wavely The Therapy Dog

December 4, 2020

or students stressed about tough classes or feeling anxious during the COVID-19 pandemic, Tupelo High School’s new therapy dog in training – a goldendoodle named Wavely – will be there to help.

Anne Marie Goad, a special education teacher and MET Chair at the high school, had the notion to get a therapy dog for the school in October 2019, but tabled the idea after the pandemic began.

While scrolling through Facebook in August, she saw a post from a woman trying to find a home for the goldendoodle puppy. “I saw her face, and I knew that she was supposed to be ours,” Goad said. “I literally went and got her the next day.”

She said it was important to get a puppy because she wanted the student body to watch her grow.

Wavely was born on June 17, 2020. At 5-and-a-half months old, she has a natural curiosity and loves to learn, fetch and receive belly rubs. She’s expected to weigh about 50 pounds as an adult.

In-person classes at THS resumed for the first time since mid-March just two days after Goad brought Wavely home.

“I knew in my heart more so than ever, we needed some joy and we needed something to boost everyone’s spirits here,” Goad said.

So far, Wavely has passed her beginning obedience class and the AKC Star Puppy Test. She’s being trained by Malia Parker and David Bundy at Awesome Dog Academy in Tupelo, and veterinarian Dr. Glenn Thomas of the Tupelo Small Animal Hospital is donating all the usual medical services for Wavely at no charge.

Advanced obedience training will begin after Christmas, after which Wavely will complete the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test and therapy title evaluation. She will take part in Comfort Creatures of North Mississippi’s “Love on a Leash” therapy training in the spring.

Goad expects Wavely to earn the title of therapy dog by May 2021.

“She is a very trainable dog, and she’s already shown the signs to be a really good therapy dog,” Goad said. “But she still has a lot of puppy in her that we’ve got to work through.”

In the meantime, Wavely will visit campus to get acclimated and begin interacting with students. When she starts working on campus full time, Goad imagines Wavely will be present in the mornings as students get off the bus or in the courtyard, and she’ll be available to visit classrooms and work one-on-one with students.  Katie Schafer, ninth grade counselor at Tupelo High School, said even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, there was a tremendous need for students to receive emotional support. Now that there’s even uncertainty about what their lives will look like day-to-day, Waverly’s role is even more critical.

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