As many of you may be aware, for the past year and a half Ruffles, our school dog, has been working within our school community. The process of getting her 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.
Since her arrival as a 10-week old puppy, Ruffles has supported 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 is lovely to see! The feedback from the parents and children has been overwhelmingly supportive and if there has been criticism it has been that with two sites there is not enough of Ruffles to go around!
We're very excited to introduce Callie to our Rooksdown team. She is a female Cavapoo and she has just passed her Bronze certificate Good Citizen Dog training. She lived with a family with children and has recently been homed with Miss Henderson 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! Behind the scenes we have been gently introducing Callie to our Rooksdown site; part of her induction was an introduction to Ruffles – we are pleased to say they got on really well!
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.
Ruffles has been working hard at her Kennel Club training courses which she has been attending since September 2015. She recently pasted her ‘The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme – Silver Award’ with Miss Willmouth. 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 her, as she is of herself.
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!