This past 2021 football season, New Mexico State University introduced its fans to the new “Wonder Dog.” The new dog, who goes by the name of Wave, is stepping in after the former Wonder Dog of nine seasons, Striking, went into retirement.
Both Wave and Striking have the same owner, Steven Stochaj, a professor in the Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Stochaj trained both Striking and Wave to retrieve football kicking tees during Aggie football games.
In addition to seeing Striking at football games, students may also recognize Striking from therapy visits on campus, as Striking is a certified therapy dog. While Wave isn’t a certified therapy dog, he is on the Mesilla Valley search and rescue team. He has worked with both the Deming and Silver City police departments as well as the FBI and DEA.
Stochaj knew that it was time for Striking to retire prior to the 2021 season. “Stuff like his vision are waning a little bit. I was actually getting a little bit worried because he had to look harder for the tee,” Stochaj said.
At 13 years old, Striking is very much ready to take it easy according to Stochaj. Striking is enjoying his retirement doing his favorite activities such as walking, swimming and sleeping.
While Striking and Wave may have the same football skills, they have very different personalities. While Striking is a relatively calm dog who does enjoy the company of humans, Wave is ready to greet every person he meets with lots of hugs and kisses.
Wave has already created a great bond with the NMSU football team as well as the marching band. Wave and Stochaj have been attending both football and band practices to get used to the sights and sounds of a rambunctious football stadium.
Wave goes out onto the field and does his job with gusto, perhaps a bit too much. “Already I had to buy the kicker a new tee since there are so many teeth marks in it,” Stochaj said. Wave also has been working on posing for pictures since he gets so excited to meet new people and has difficulty sitting still when approached.
Fittingly so, Wave’s favorite activity is running and he knows that when the cannon fires at football games, it’s almost go time. He is always eager to get out there and go.