Therapy dog is certified to help

Courtney Seiner , Contributing Writer

The Nixa High School counseling department has welcome a therapy dog to help students through tough days. Nancy Doubrava, the 10th-grade counselor, takes Willow Poodle to work every day. 

“She was abused and neglected the first two years of her life,” Doubrava said.

Willow had a rough time during the first part of her life. As she was not taken care of properly. This caused her to get removed from her previous home, and taken to the program Rescue One. 

“They sent her to a prison in Licking, Missouri, where they offer a program Puppies for Parole, so they have prisoners that are on good behavior and they train the dogs to get their good citizen K-9 certificate, “Doubrava said. 

Willow is certified through PetSmart by taking classes on how to become a therapy dog. As long as Willow stays a therapy dog, she will do regular check-ins to make sure she is still doing her job to stay certified as a therapy dog. 

“She is certified through Alliance of Pets,” Doubrava said. 

Willow now holds the position of helping students in high school calm down or just relax. Willow is in the counseling office.

“Every day is different,” Doubrava said.

Doubrava even dresses Willow up for Halloween and the week before Christmas break. 

“Come around during Christmas time,”  Doubrava said. 

Jennifer Perryman is a physical education teacher and head coach for the girl’s basketball team. Coach Perryman takes Willow out on walks often, especially in warmer months when she can take Willow outside on the track with her classes. 

“My PE classes have always liked it,” Perryman said. Referencing having Willow come to Perryman’s classes. During the winter Perryman only sees Willow a couple of times a week, but during the warmer months, Willow gets to go with Perryman’s physical education classes more often. 

“She’s so calm, her demeanor, she just lets people pet her, let’s people talk to her. Or grab her as she walks by,” Perryman said. 

Perryman even gives examples of when Willow helps special needs kids when they go out walking on the track. Willow makes their day without even realizing it. 

“When we have certain kids that are anxious or special needs they like to see her – it comforts them. We will walk together and they get to pet her,” Perryman said. 

Students can visit Willow by contacting Doubrava in the counseling office.