For those readers who don’t know, Doodles is Highfurlong’s school dog. He was bought by me in 2017, with the blessing of the then head teacher specifically to be our school dog. Since then, we have a new head teacher @neilloldham who is totally on board with the idea of dogs in schools. In fact, he was the owner of one of the first dogs in a school in Blackpool. All of this is very good news for Doodles as the arrival of the new head has helped his development and is shaping his behaviour around school.
One of main reasons for acquiring a school dog was for the well being that his presence would bring to our children. Doodles has done this in bucketfuls. I have reported on this on several occasions previously. For example, if a child is upset, hurt or feeling down in any way they come for a Doodles’ cuddle or they grab him in the corridor and have a cuddle. He is excellent at providing therapeutic attention for anyone who requires it.
We also hoped that he would become a listening or reading dog further down the line. Now this request took a while as Doodles does have a rather mischievous side to his character. He turned 2 years old on the last day of February and this was possibly the day he actually grew up enough to sit with a child and listen to them read. Whenever I have tried this before Doodles has sat for a minute and then had a crafty nibble at the corner of the book. This brought tears of laughter from the child and an abandoned reading lesson. He was of course banished from reading for a while. Then one day fairly recently a young boy asked if he could read to Doodles. I wasn’t optimistic but thought we would give it another go. Here is the result. I’m pleased and proud to say that Doodles is now calm enough to sit with children while they’re reading. The children love it, it builds their confidence and he of course is the ultimate good listener.
Doodles’ successes have been many and varied and some have been things we simply hadn’t thought of. Last week we discovered quite by chance that he is simply fantastic at the therapy side of things.
The physiotherapists were passing my room with a young lady who was in a walking frame. Quite often our children don’t like these frames and a session in one can result in tears as the child expresses their dismay. However, children do have to have a full stretch from time to time for the sake of their bones and muscles. Like it or not it’s actually good for them.
At the precise moment the two physios were passing my room Doodles and I were just going outside with a ball to allow him to stretch his own legs. I dropped his ball by mistake, Doodles retrieved it and dropped it at the feet of our little girl. I picked up the ball for her and passed it to her and she threw it with all her strength right down the corridor. Doodles loved this and chased after it. Once again he brought it back and placed at the feet of our little girl. On a repeat of the first time she threw the ball and this time when Doodles chased the ball our girl chased Doodles. It was like magic. Gone were the tears and the reluctance to move and off she went both feet actually running after the dog. Under the supervision of the physios the dog and our young lady travelled right down the corridor and she was grinning the whole time.
Here’s what happened.
A little miracle occurred that day in Highfurlong and it started a trend for the future. Since that day last week Doodles has worked with several children in this way. They throw the ball, he retrieves it and drops it exactly at their feet. It’s all good fun and the children have their exercise. Who knows, in time they may actually request to take exercise especially if Doodles is able to accompany them. We have learnt never to underestimate the power of our school dog.
If you are interested in reading more of Doodles’ tales of being a #schooldog consider looking at his book.