Douglas Middle welcomes a new four-legged staff member

The counselor says Governor was trained by Service Dogs of Alabama to sense anxiety.
Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 5:17 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2023 at 7:39 PM CDT
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DOUGLAS, Ala. (WAFF) - The newest staff member at Douglas Middle School is a 2-year-old labradoodle named Governor.

Counselor Bobby Thomas says Governor is just wrapping up his first week with the school.

“This week, Governor has assisted our teachers with our student presentations. They had to do these presentations in front of their classmates. So, Governor went into those classrooms, was able to sit near where they were presenting and help them overcome some of those nerves,” Thomas said.

The counselor says Governor was trained by Service Dogs of Alabama to sense anxiety and it is his job to support students who are feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty focusing.

“I’ll bring them into my office and let the governor spend some time with them and also be able to ask them what’s going on. I think they open up a lot quicker when Governor is around,” Thomas said.

Thomas says it costs around $40,000 to train a service dog. He says Service Dogs of Alabama and the State Department of education footed most of the bill along with two of the county’s lawmakers.

“As a school, you have to provide $1,000. We were fortunate enough to have Representative Brock Colvin and Senator Clay Scofield who wanted to help us with our thousand dollars. It’s incredible to receive such a great resource at such a low cost,” Thomas said.

According to Thomas, Governor will work at Douglas for six years and then retire from education.

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