Having a school dog is not a new idea – there are many schools now that have school dogs and there is a raft of evidence online that tells of the benefits for both staff and children.
Having a school dog @camberwellpark is not a new idea either – it is something we have talked about on and off for a number of years. I am grateful however to @cherrylkd who having acquired her fabulous trainee therapy dog Doodles, spurred me into action once more and was very supportive in linking me up with the breeder from where Doodles was born and I was able to get our little superstar puppy Dora.
As it is national pet month, and Dora has been in school for 3 weeks now, it seems a perfect time to introduce her to a wider audience.
Dora is a miniature labradoodle, and as with Doodles, she has been particularly chosen as a breed as she is hypoallergenic and an intelligent, calm and friendly dog breed. Perfect for being with our children. At the time of writing this blog she is 13 weeks old.
Dora lives with me and travels into school with me each day. She has a crate in my office so that she has a quiet and safe place when she needs it, particularly whilst being a puppy.
She has a big job ahead of her in school and we have shared information about her role and responsibilities on our website. She is a fully fledged member of staff and even has her own signing in and out to be done 😉
In order to support the children learn about her we are developing a range of social stories. We will extend these out to a trip to the vets, going to puppy school and other things that Dora gets up to.
We have photos of her dad , mum and one of her sisters so we can do ‘about her family’ for the children.
She even has her own schedule in the office so that it can support the children to understand about routines and using their own schedules!
We also have a Dora object of reference as well as symbols to go on the children’s schedule when they are going to work with her.
We are obviously managing Dora’s introduction to school very carefully for her sake and for that of the children in order for it to be successful. She is only a puppy yet so has lots to learn. She has started puppy training classes with me now and is doing really well. Once she has completed her basic training the trainer is going to work with me on particular skills as a therapy dog e.g. sitting still in her bed whilst being a reading dog for the children.
She has already proved her value however, she has a pet – gate at my office door and has a regular stream of children looking out for her and saying hello as they pass as well as asking loads of questions, wanting to draw / colour pictures and bring them to her. We have had more than one occasion when our pupils who have multiple learning difficulties have either stopped crying when they have held her, stilled and raised their heads and on another occasion one little girl whose hands are always clasped tight, immediately unfurled her hand , turned her eyes towards Dora and started blinking. On another occasion a year 6 pupil in crisis was able to de-escalate his anger very quickly by coming and telling Dora what had made him angry and then returning to class to continue his learning. Staff too are loving having her around and she is a therapy for them too. Dora doesn’t like anyone being sad and ran and comforted a member of staff who was upset about something from home when sat in my office. Dora cuddles were just what was needed at the time.
She has visited lots of classes already and has been to assembly and is already the stimulus for lots of classroom work. Sadly, due to pupil confidentiality I cannot share photos which show the children’s faces however here is some of the fabulous writing one class has produced this week
So Dora Camberwell – it is early days but you have already proved your worth.
School council are meeting next week to discuss and set out ‘Dora rules’ – be gentle etc and write a list of things she needs so that classes can research and buy things for her.
She is very much part of the school
Thank you for taking the time to read about her