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Winterville Therapy Dog ‘Marsali’ Gives Birth to 4 Puppies

A much-loved member of the Winterville Charter Academy staff has been absent for a few weeks recently but plans to rejoin the school after her maternity leave.
 
Marsali, the Harlequin French Bulldog is the school’s therapy dog and recently gave birth to four puppies (two boys, two girls) in Texas. Mother and babies are doing well.
 
Winterville therapy puppies

Two week old puppy
Known for her long ears and love of playing basketball with scholars on the playground, Marsali, who is 18 months old, will return to Winterville in a few weeks.
 
"She is a snorty, stocky, bossy beauty who provides humor and kindness to our staff and scholars,” Principal Annastasia Ryan said. “Sometimes, you just need a hug from Marsali to get through the day with a smile."

French bulldog 
Ryan, whose background includes experience in the veterinary profession, acts as Marsali’s guardian for a breeder in Texas. Marsali was placed with Ryan for the positive quality of life she enjoys at the school. Ryan will adopt her after she produces three litters.
 
“Marsali is the first Harlequin French Bulldog to be bred in the United States,” Ryan said. “That basically means that her coloring is very rare. Because of that rare variation, she is a pretty expensive dog. Too expensive for my purse. I am her guardian mom.”

French Bulldog on a couch 
Smiles abound when Marsali patters down the hallway. Students can earn playtime with her as classroom rewards and often take her for walks.
 
The playful pooch is also part of the behavior plan for three exceptional children at Winterville.
 
"Students come to us with many different needs,” Ryan said. “There is a universal love that an animal gives.  Marsali gives care without condition and our students respond to that kind of unconditional love."
 
All students struggle from time to time, a fact Marsali became familiar with recently. She is currently taking classes to become a certified service dog but failed her last class. She’ll be “hitting the books” once again when she returns to Winterville.
 
“She is a C-minus student and sometimes our staff calls her an ‘out of service dog,’” Ryan said, jokingly. “We plan on bringing her back before the end of school so the children can celebrate their accomplishments with their best friend back on campus.”
 
Winterville Charter Academy is part of National Heritage Academies, a charter school management company in Grand Rapids, Mich. with 98 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.