Willow the Welcome Dog – Highlighting a Special Friend!

For this month’s team highlight, we have something sweet to share. You may have noticed a sweet dog greeting you when you come to Rainbow. She’s the official “Welcome Dog,” a self-imposed designation by our four-pawed friend. In fact, she’s so adept at being a greeter and interacting with humans, we think Willow doesn’t know that she’s a canine and not, in fact, a homo sapiens.

Willow claims West Willmore as “her human” – the Curriculum Director and Development Coordinator, as well as the Director of Operations for Rainbow Institute.

But Willow has come into her own as the Welcome Dog. She’s quite at home in our community and loves it when people come up and pet her.

welcome dog team highlight

Willow is happy to welcome you to Rainbow!

During the course of the day at Rainbow, she loves being part of centering. In fact, she hopes that her presence will be perfect for “therapeutic student interactions.” She loves how she can help students calm down – just when they would want some time to take a few breaths.

calm dog

Willow loves being pet and finds that this calms students, too!

She attends faculty circle from time to time and likes to keep tabs on what’s going on in the community. It’s hard to sit perfectly next to other staff members in the circle, so she doesn’t mind going into the center. She figures if she just listens really well, no one will mind.

center of circle

Sitting in the center of the circle.

Willow sees to it that she’s present for all school celebrations. One of her favorites is Halloween.

dressed up for halloween

Willow and Sandra, our Director of Operations, all dressed up for Halloween!

Another favorite is May Day each year.

willow dog dressed as a fairy

May Day celebrations with Willow!

She also doesn’t mind an impromptu “long lost cousin” costume, either.

wooly costume

We think that perhaps that extra layer should be sheared…

She even likes to hear the graduation songs and speeches at the end of the year.

willow posing at graduation

Graduations are reasons for everyone to gather around…

She doesn’t mind crowds or having them look at her. That’s funny because although she doesn’t bark, West reports that she’s kind of afraid of everything.

Willow doesn’t mind helping students out with their science projects. She gives them lots of ideas.

willow nature awareness

Willow just doing her part for science.

Willow On History, Science and Sports

When she’s not helping students out with centering or science, she likes to sunbathe on Rainbow’s main deck – as long as it’s warm enough to do so. She figures what would be the point of sunbathing if the sun doesn’t bathe you in some warmth?

During history lessons, Willow is great at illustrating the idea of “hunting and gathering.” She hunts and gathers bits of food from snack time and is really good at keeping the floors clean.

She can be a comedian, too. One of the funniest things she does is stand in her water bowl. When she does that, we think she’s trying to tell us that it’s time to get out and play. Preferably in the water.

Indeed, she loves to swim! Not only does she go with her human to the lake quite often, she also goes on rock climbing trips, hiking, trail running, and more. Even though she likes to hunt, she’s content with the thrill of the game and accepts the fact that she doesn’t catch much.

Travels All Over

She also accompanies West on plenty of road trips. She’s been all over the U.S. and has her sights set on international travel. For now, she can boast that the farthest she’s ever been outside of North Carolina is California.

Willow has made quite a life for herself in the world of humans. When she was born, she was the runt of her litter-mates. As soon as she met West, however, it was loyalty at first sight.

If you see a light-colored fluffy dog around the campus of Rainbow, just say, “Willow!” and she’ll come right over to you and make sure you feel welcome. Don’t worry if you’re allergic to dogs: Willow is hypoallergenic.

willow in director's office

You might find Willow in an office, ready to offer her insights, but she can’t promise complete seriousness all the time…

You can find Willow in Instagram under her owner’s account with the hashtag, #willowthewaterdog.

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