As many of you may be aware, our school dogs, have been working hard within our school community since introducing Ruffles in 2015. The process of getting Ruffles was not quick and took a lot of time and research. Ms Willmouth, our Deputy spoke to governors, parents, and our Student Senate about the idea and sought Health and Safety advice from ‘County Specialists’. After all the discussions were over it was decided that to have a school therapy dog would be hugely beneficial for the children both educationally and emotionally.
Callie was then welcomed to our Rooksdown campus two years later. She is a female Cavapoo and she has just passed her Gold certificate Good Citizen Dog training. She lived with a family with children but now lives with Mrs James one of our YR teachers. Cavapoo’s are a cross between a Poodle and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They are known to be playful, good-natured, loyal, friendly, affectionate and love people. Fantastic dogs to work with children!
The role of our therapy dogs is to support children at both sites with all sorts of emotional needs. These included coping with bereavement, exam pressures, anger management, anxiety and not to mention increasing the children’s understanding of responsibility and developing empathy. Plus the sheer enjoyment they get from being around Ruffles and Callie is lovely to see! The feedback from the parents and children has been overwhelmingly supportive.
We understand that it is not possible for all families to have a dog therefore we hope that having both Callie and Ruffles will be an opportunity for the children at both sites to have a ‘share’ in a dog and gain a relationship and contact on a more regular basis. We have now included photos of Callie for you to see below and the FAQs in the recent letter that were covered when Ruffles arrived.
What is a reading dog?
Reading dogs are, quite simply, dogs that children read to! Reading to dogs has been proved to help children develop literacy skills and build confidence, through both the calming effect the dogs' presence has on children and the fact that the dog will listen to the children read without being judgemental or critical. This comforting environment helps to nurture children's enthusiasm for reading and provides them with the confidence needed to read aloud.
Both Ruffles and Callie have been working hard at their Kennel Club training courses and have both past ‘The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme – Gold Award’. They had to pass 10 exercises to achieve this including: control at door/gate, controlled walk amongst people and other dogs and return to handler. We’re all very proud of them!
We should stress that being involved with Ruffles and Callie is entirely optional and no child will be expected to work with the dog unless they wish to.
Here are a few photographs of them both. Enjoy!