Milly the School Well-Being Dog
It’s official! The Governors have given permission for Milly to visit us at Lyme.
We think this will be a wonderful thing for Lyme because:
The use of a school dog can enable a child or adult to become less stressed, less self-conscious and more confident. School dogs provide great comfort, encourage positive social behaviours, enhanced self-esteem, assist with general development and inspire young people to have fun!
Dogs teach children about socialisation. Like most of us, dogs are social animals that enjoy and need attention and affection. By learning how to interact with a dog, children can learn how to better socialise with other children. If they can learn the social non-verbal cues of a dog, then interacting with humans who can communicate verbally should be simple!
A dog does not judge a person and their boundless gratitude, shown by a wagging tail, helps to build self-esteem. Last, but certainly not least, dogs are a lot of fun. They can cheer you up even on your worst day!
At the moment, Milly is just getting used to the school environment. She is learning how to greet people and where and when she can play. She is spending a lot of time in Mrs Cribb's office while she is introduced to school life slowly.
Some concerns you might have:
Is there a risk in bringing a dog into a school environment?
There are risks involved in everything but there are a variety of accidents which can happen within the school environment which far exceed the number of injuries or incidents caused by a dog. Therefore, it is just another risk that needs to be managed. We believe that through a rigorous risk assessment process the risk can be managed by school staff.
It is accepted that interacting with animals is not appropriate for all children but that for some it has the potential to provide many positive benefits. Any parent who does not wish their child to interact with Milly will inform Mrs Cribb of their wishes.
This risk assessment will be reviewed regularly and the impact of a school dog will be evaluated by the school senior management team.
My child is allergic to dogs
It is understandable that some of you may be concerned about possible allergic reactions to a school dog. However, Milly will be subjected to the most thorough cleanliness and grooming regime. She will also only be allowed in situations with pupils who voluntarily wish to work with her. Your permission will of course be sought in advance of her having access to, and working with, your child in school.
Will Milly be properly cared for?
Milly will be extremely well looked after. She lives with Mrs Cribb and will come to school around one day a week. She will in time, visit classes but will always be accompanied by an adult. She will undergo training so will be extremely well-behaved. While Milly is in school she will have access to a bed in the office where she can ‘chill out’ during the day! This is where she will spend most of her time initially. Milly will visit the vet regularly for all her injections as well as regular check-ups.
My child is scared of dogs
Some children may have had upsetting experiences and so have a fear of dogs (or another animal). Milly will only be in contact with children whose parents have given their permission. However, her training will help her to be calm and gentle around children. 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.
Lyme has a ‘no dogs’ policy
Our school does have a ‘no dogs’ policy, however Milly will be on a lead when moving around the school property and will always be accompanied by an adult, namely Mrs Cribb. Milly will also be fully insured to carry out her role allowing her to be on the school site.
Not everyone appreciates animals or even a dog, as they do at times smell and of course have to deposit the food and drink they have consumed! Milly will be taken away from school premises to deal with these needs. Children would not be forced at any time to be with Milly.
We know from our experience so far that Milly puts a smile on everyone’s faces. She’s a calming presence in school and really has made a difference in a short time.