When the Loreto sisters moved into Mary’s Mount in 1875, two dogs came with them from the presbytery. At the time, few other houses were nearby and gas street lighting wasn’t installed in the city until 1881. The dogs were considered watchdogs as well as companions in the early days. They helped create a homely atmosphere, particularly when the College had boarding school students.
In newsletters over many years, dogs are mentioned as being part of several Loreto Convents and Colleges. Mother Gonzaga Barry, herself having grown up with ‘ponies, dogs and pets of every kind’ welcomed various pets including blackbirds and seagulls. This tradition continued for many years. A photo of Mary’s Mount Middle School in 1960 includes a dog front and centre amongst the rows of students.
At the beginning of this year, we decided to trial a new addition to the College – Twiggy. Every Thursday Christina Sofis (staff member) brings her much loved pet to visit on the day, now known as Twiggy Thursdays. Twiggy is a two-year-old female Cavoodle, a hypoallergenic dog breed that is a cross between a miniature poodle and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Dogs in schools are known to have a positive impact on both physical and emotional health for students and staff. A dog promotes a positive mood and significant anti-stress effects. They allow students to achieve a stronger sense of belonging through interactions with the community.
We believe that when Twiggy arrives on a Thursday she has a smile on her face. When we see her interactions throughout the day, we see the smiles and joy she gives to many of our students and staff. Twiggy has delivered messages through emails, posters, videos and screens to promote COVID safe messages during lockdowns.
Twiggy visits classrooms, the Learning Hub and the Library regularly. She remains on her lead at all times, joining staff members on yard duty and walks around the grounds. Students do not have to interact with her unless they want to. Twiggy has done some puppy school and will undergo further training to improve her skills as she has become such a welcome addition to College life. We are looking forward to her continuing with Twiggy Thursdays in 2022.