Frontline Responder: Ellie Mae, visitor turned family

Updated: Mar. 12, 2023 at 8:00 PM CDT
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NEWTON COUNTY, Miss. (WTOK) - This week’s Frontline Responder is unique but nevertheless impactful on the community. News 11′s Tynisha Jackson introduces us to a furry four-legged friend in Newton County.

“Ellie Mae, Ellie Mae what are you doing girl.”

You can hear her name being called out throughout the hallways of Newton County Middle and High School. Ellie Mae is a 5-year-old labrador retriever. Owner and NCHS alum Lindsey Blount said Ellie Mae made her way over to the school all on her own towards the end of the 2021-22′ school year determined to visit the staff and students daily.

“Well we did try to get her but we were told she had made a very positive impact on the kids here. That she had pretty much become their therapy dog which I had done a lot of research on that in the past myself and knew the positives that animals can bring to kids as well as adults too. We had gotten reports even from teachers that had talked about the positive income that she had brought to kids in their classrooms so we just let her come,” said Blount.

Now she’s part of the cougar family and even has her own personal badge. As she wags her tail up and down the hallways she makes pit stops in classrooms, putting smiles on students’ faces.

“Ellie Mae is such a good dog. She’s a good girl. She comes into the classroom every now and then. She’s really nice to everyone and friendly and always looking for a snack. It’s definitely different. Not many schools have a dog that does that so it makes us feel more welcomed and it kind of soothes down the pressure when it’s time for a big test and she makes us feel happier,” said 12th-grade student, Elijah Sanchez.

Assistant Principal, Tabitha Chaney said Ellie Mae is well prepared for the ACT as she spends a lot of time in Ms. Little’s classroom. Ellie Mae may slack off sometimes but hey it’s not her fault...

“She’s very well fed. She often sleeps in class and we blame that on the Cougar Cafe and all the breakfast she gets. So I have had to call her parents about her sleeping in class so we’ve joked about that,” said ACT English and Reading teacher, Leann Little.

But there’s no doubt she’s a friend you can always depend on. And no one knows that better than new student Macie Pilgrim.

“I know some people here, not many but when I first started out I didn’t really have friends here and I become friends with animals I guess really easily and I fell in love with her. She’s just really sweet and I come to school and I get really excited just to see her. It’s like if you’re having a bad day and you walk up in here what are you going to be mad when she’s like sitting there looking at you wagging her tail? You can’t be mad. It’s just really relieving having her at the school. She’s real sweet, real calm, she’s a good company,” said 11th-grade student, Macie Pilgrim.

And a fun fact about Ellie Mae, she’s a big sports fan. You can find her on paws circle cheering on the cougars at their games. So it’s apparent to say she loves the cougars and the cougars love her just the same.

“I take her for walks. She lets me rub her and touch her belly.”

“Ellie Mae makes me really happy, relaxed, and joyful. I keep her away from the cars and the line.”

“Her being up here at the school that I have so many memories with, so many fond memories, made so many friendships, long-lasting with teachers and people I went to school with. Just knowing that she’s coming up here making such a positive influence it makes me feel good to know that she’s here doing what she’s supposed to be doing,” said Blount.