A new partner joins Officer Dan at Wachusett

A new partner joins Officer Dan at Wachusett

Students at the Regional have been eager to catch a glimpse of school resource officer Dan Contois’ new partner, a three-month-old chocolate labrador.

Tully, a therapy support dog in training, aims to ease the daily stresses of students and staff alike.

“Some people have said he reduced worry and anxiety for them, which is our goal,” said Contois.

Junior Chris Smith said that he has had the same observations.

“I’ve noticed that whenever Tully is around, people are excited, happier, and want to pet him,” said Smith. “He makes you happy, you know, he brightens your day.”

Sophomore Grace O’Malley agreed that Tully has the ability to relieve stress.

“I was super excited to see him, and I felt super happy,” said O’Malley. “I think he’s a great outlet for people who are stressed out.”

Contois said that Tully and the Mountaineers share a symbiotic relationship.

“He’s gotten just as much from them as they have from him,” said Contois. “The socialization and attention from students is all part of his training.”

Contois said that Tully’s training has been successful and constructive thus far.

“He’s going to be in training for a while, at least four to five months,” said Contois. “He’s doing great with basic obedience.”

Contois said that Tully will work with other local police officers and their pups as a part of his training.

“He’ll be working with Officer Hank to receive his certification,” said Contois.

Early Childhood Education Teacher Jillian Russo said that Tully positively impacts the preschool children during his visits.

“The kids love him,” said Russo. “They stop what they’re doing and absorb that moment with him.”

Russo added that Tully has the ability to distract high school students from their stressful coursework. 

“He is definitely a staple in the school,” said Russo. “Students can pet him and their mindsets can shift off of school.”

Russo said that Tully helps students connect to the school in a unique and nuanced way.

“He’s still new,” said Russo. “He’s something different students can focus on.”

Russo said that the number of therapy animals in the school should be limited.

“Therapy animals definitely increase happiness,” said Russo. “But I also think that too much of something makes it less special.”  

Contois said that Tully will be staying at the Regional.

“After he gets his certification, he’s coming back here,” said Contois. “He’s my new partner.”