Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Holy Angels Community Welcomes Zac, the Goose Dog

Demarest, NJ: Starting a new job can come with a bit of anxiety, but Zac the border collie is handling his new post as goose dog at the Academy of the Holy Angels with quiet aplomb.

“The AHA community couldn’t be happier than to welcome Zac,” AHA President Melinda Hanlon said Monday morning, shortly after Zac’s arrival was announced.

Sister Mary Foley, AHA’s social worker and Zac’s direct report, went about the work of introducing her new employee. Many people were pleasantly surprised to learn about Zac, since the hiring process was a closely guarded secret for several months.

“The school really needed a goose dog after Luke died,” S. Mary said, referring to her 13-year companion, who acted as AHA’s goose herder and therapy dog until his passing in April.

As Holy Angels sought an appropriate successor, school officials worked with Luke’s breeders and trainers, Gwen and Kent Kuykendall of Goosemasters in North Carolina.

“The Kuykendalls breed very excellent dogs, so we went back to the same place,” S. Mary explained. “They’ve worked with us since the spring to find the right dog for us, and Zac is the right dog for us. You can tell he likes to be around women and girls, and he is very affectionate, very sweet, and very gentle.”

Zac’s skills also made a favorable impression on Sister Mary.

“I watched him herd ducks, and he’s fantastic! He’s a real worker. He has the Holy Angels work ethic,” she reported with a smile.

At the moment, S. Mary asks that no one address Zac by name. He will need to learn the sound of her voice and recognize her as his leader as the two form a bond.

“It’s going to take a while for Zac to get acclimated to being in a school setting,” she said. “I will be practicing his commands, including ‘lie down’ and ‘come.’”

Will Zac also take on Luke’s responsibilities as a therapy dog? “If Zac wants to become a therapy dog, I'll be happy. He will let us know. So far, I see such a gentle, approachable dog that I think this will happen,” S. Mary commented.

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in New Jersey. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.



Academy of the Holy Angels

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Demarest, NJ 07627

Phone: 201.768.7822

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