Star our school dog. She is a golden coloured Double Doodle (cross between a Labradoodle and a Goldendoodle) and has been attending our school since she was just 9 weeks old. Star has been a part of St John Fisher since March 2020. She was so brave when she first arrived and it took her no time at all to settle in- just like our new children! Star loves playing out with Nursery and Reception, especially in our forest area and enjoys going for a walk at lunchtime with some of our children. She is kept quite busy and likes to know what is going on in school but when she gets tired, Star likes snoozing in Mrs Forrest’s office underneath her desk!
Eventually Star will undertake training to work with children who have special needs, or who are upset in any way and in need of calm, comfort and space before being able to tell an adult what has upset them. This training requires the dog to be over 1 year old so this won’t be happening just yet. She is already helping us out by looking after anyone who is feeling a bit sad – a little stroke and a look into those big brown eyes is enough to make anyone feel happy again.
There are many benefits to having a school dog, including:
Benefits of having a school dog:
Cognitive development – building a companionship with a dog helps children stimulate their memory, problem-solving and game-playing skills. Having a school dog is known to increase enthusiasm for, and enjoyment of animals, which motivates children to think and learn.
Social skills – dogs provide a mutual topic for conversation with others, and encourage responsibility, wellbeing and focussed interaction with others.
Emotional skills – dogs improve self-esteem, acceptance from others and are known for improving moods. Dogs can also help children develop compassion and respect for other living things and can reduce children’s anxiety. Building respect can improve children’s relationships with each other, parents and teachers and shows them how to nurture and care for another living thing. If any children are suffering from bereavement or are particularly sad, dogs can provide children with comfort and friendship.
Physical development – interaction with dogs is known to reduce blood pressure, provide tactile stimulation, assist with pain management and give motivation for children to move and walk.
Reading – school dogs are known to help children with their reading and literacy skills, through their calming presence and ability to listen to children read without being judgemental or critical. Children can build their confidence to read aloud to others through having a school dog.
School community – having a school dog builds the sense of a family environment and togetherness.
Doubledoodles are very low-shedding and some do not moult – their coat is non-allergenic, meaning there is a highly reduced risk of allergic reactions.
Doubledoodles are child-friendly, lively, gentle mannered and affectionate, yet sensitive.
Doubledoodles are known to be highly intelligent and respond excellently to training. Many Double Doodles are used as therapy dogs.
Questions about Star
My child is allergic to dogs and I don’t want them to have an allergic reaction
As previously mentioned, we have chosen a ‘Doodle’ breed, which has a non-allergenic coat and does not moult, meaning there is a significantly reduced risk of an allergic reaction. If, however, you would still prefer your child not to come into contact with Star, we will accommodate your request and ensure that arrangements are in place.
Will the dog be properly cared for?
Star will be subject to a rigorous grooming process to prevent the risk of infection or disease. When not working with children in class or outside, she is kept in the headteacher’s or Learning Mentor’s office during the day and has adequate supply of food and water. When Star is not in school, she lives with Mrs Forrest and her family but has lots of offers to stay with some of the other staff members!
My child is scared of dogs
We understand that some children may be fearful of dogs. Doubledoodles are known for being extremely child-friendly and Star will provide the opportunity for children to overcome their fears. Star is well-behaved, gentle and calm around children. If parents would prefer for their child not to come into direct contact with our school dog, we will accommodate your request and ensure alternative arrangements are in place.
Is the dog well-behaved?
Star is extremely well-behaved at all times. She has spent lots of time with our children and is very patient, especially with the younger ones but also enjoys chasing sticks with our older children on the field at breaktimes! When Star gets a little tired, she has a rest in Mrs Forrest’s office or with Mrs Fillingham, our Learning Mentor.