We are very excited to introduce you to a new member of our team, who we will be welcoming to our schools over the coming weeks.
Lola was born on 15th November 2020 and is a 4-month-old Shih Tzu/Maltese cross who lives with Mrs McMullen and is set to become an integral part of our school community over the next few years.
What are the benefits of having a school dog?
Therapy dogs have been working in UK schools for the past five years but have been commonplace in schools in the US and Australia for many years. Research studies have shown the benefits of therapy dogs in schools which include:
- Cognitive – companionship with a dog stimulates memory, problem-solving and game-playing
- Social – a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion, encourages responsibility, wellbeing and focused interaction with others
- Emotional – a school dog improves self-esteem, acceptance from others and lifts moods, often provoking laughter and fun. Dogs can also teach compassion and respect for other living things as well as relieving anxiety
- Physical – interaction with a furry friend reduces blood pressure, provides tactile stimulation, assists with pain management, gives motivation to move, walk and stimulates the senses
- Environmental – a dog in a school increases the sense of a family environment, with all of the above benefits continuing long after the school day is over.
As you may be aware, there are already many ‘Pets as Therapy’ dogs working in schools. Reading to dogs has been proven to help children develop literacy skills and build confidence, through both the calming effect the dog’s presence has on children as well as the dog listening to children read without being judgmental or critical. This comforting environment helps to nurture children’s enthusiasm for reading and provides them with the confidence to read aloud.
Will Lola be properly cared for?
Lola will be extremely well looked after. She lives with Mrs McMullen and her family and at first, will come into our schools but will stay safely in a crate in a quiet non-teaching area of school. Mrs McMullen will introduce her to our environments and she will then work with some of our children but will always be accompanied by an adult.
She will be kept clean and well-groomed at home and children will have to wash their hands and use anti-bacterial gel after contact. Should the dog defecate on school premises it will be cleaned up by Mrs McMullen using animal waste bags and a disinfectant used to clean the area. Waste will then be carefully and suitably disposed of.
How do we know Lola is ready to work in school?
Lola has undergone a programme of thorough and rigorous training so is extremely well-behaved. Whilst Loa is in school, she will have access to a dog crate and this is where she will spend most of her time initially until she becomes used to our staff and our premises. Lola will visit the vet regularly for all her injections as well as regular check-ups. If Lola is unwell for any reason, she will stay at home.
My child is scared of dogs
Some children may have had upsetting experiences and have a fear of dogs (or another animal). Lola will only be in contact with children whose parents have given their permission. However, Lola’s training has taught her to be calm and gentle around children; she has a very loving and gentle nature. Experience and research have shown that, with proper guidance and handling, children can learn to overcome their fear of animals and grow in respect and appreciation for them.
The school has a ‘no dogs’ policy
Our schools do have a ‘no dogs’ policy. Lola will be on a lead at all times when moving around the school property and will always be accompanied by an adult Lola will also be fully insured to carry out her role in our schools. We have completed a comprehensive risk assessment, having considered the processes and risks in having a dog in school.
What do I need to do now?
We are requesting consent from parents for their child to interact and work with Lola.
We hope you will join us in welcoming Lola to the Federation family and embrace all that she has to offer the school.