A new staff member has joined Bishop Macdonell Catholic High School. Welly, a two-­year old Labrador Retriever who was specially bred and trained to support students mentally and emotionally.

Welly is a Labrador Retriever Facility Dog working with the school’s social workers in Guelph. Every day, the dog assists Jodi Allward and Sony Brar in their support of students and in their promotion of positive mental health and wellness. Welly works with students who need extra encouragement with the day-to-day challenges of life.

“We like to say that Welly is a dog with a job,” says Jodi Allward, Social Worker at Bishop Macdonell Catholic High School and Welly’s primary handler. “He knows that when his purple vest is on, it’s time to work. Much of Welly’s job involves simply being present with whomever he’s comforting. He acts as a non-judgmental intermediary. Even just sitting with him, people often find they are better able to regulate their emotions and problem solve.”

Welly was hired in October as a part of Wellington Catholic School Board’s Social Work Team to support the board’s mental health strategy. A Facility Dog is highly trained and certified by National Service Dogs.

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