Those of you who follow my blog or read my tweets will know that I am the proud owner of our school’s therapy dog called Doodles. Here’s a quick recap for those of you who are unaware of Doodles. Doodles is my puppy, a Schnoodle, purchased especially for the purpose of being trained to help our very special children while they are in school. He is now 7 months old and is quite possibly the cutest, most cuddly puppy you have ever seen.
Doodles has had a huge impact on the children since he arrived in June. He’s had a calming influence and brought a smile to many a tear stained face. He has diffused several temper tantrums and helped with some terrible meltdowns. He is also used as a reward for those who earn it. He has a huge role to fulfil in school and its growing as Doodles matures and is able to join in lessons on a regular basis. This is all excellent and exactly what we wanted. What we hadn’t anticipated was the effect that Doodles would have on the staff.
Right from the very beginning most of the staff loved him, after all, who doesn’t love a puppy? He brings his own special brand of magic to the school. He accompanies me to school every day and has many firm friends among the staff. For example, one of our TAs has fought and beaten cancer twice and this has given her a completely different outlook on life. She now appreciates that life is too short for not doing the things that make you happy. She adores Doodles and tells me that she herself finds him calming and therapeutic. If she feels at all down she comes for a Doodles’ cuddle. She takes him for a walk every morning and during her own lunch time in all kinds of weather. She spoils him by bringing him doggy biscuits and chewy sticks. He also has the cleanest bedding of any puppy in the land as she washes his blanket regularly. In return Doodles brings her a bar of chocolate every so often to say thank you for all the attention she showers on him.
The next person who is a firm favourite with Doodles is Bridget our school secretary. Bridget is a very poorly lady indeed. You wouldn’t know it from looking at the permanent smile on her face. Bridget certainly knows how to put a brave face on for the world. Without going into too much detail she struggles to walk and wears wrist and knee splints. She is only able to work part time due to her illness and that is quite depressing for someone who is relatively young. Doodles runs into the office and throws himself on to Bridget’s lap. He showers her with kisses and gives her the biggest puppy cuddle ever seen. He would sit with Bridget all day long if I let him. Bridget allows him to chew the cardboard boxes when they are finished with and sometimes he’s even allowed to open them! Bridget has bought him special toys for the office. He has his own cuddly monkey to chew when he’s in there. He’s such a spoilt puppy! Bridget tells me that she loves her cuddles with Doodles and he really makes her smile on the days when she feels particularly unwell. Good boy Doodles.
The last person that Doodles has won over is our headteacher. He has shown that he is no respector of authority whatsoever. When our head comes into my room and sits down, up jumps Doodles. He’s as quick as a flash, rather mischevious and there’s no stopping him. He’s quite partial to her ears and washes them both for her. There’s nothing you can do except laugh because he’s so cheeky. Our HT attempts to be firm with him but it falls on deaf ears as he carries on washing her face for her. It’s a good job she likes him or he could be our very first exclusion!
There have been many more successes with the staff and this is just a little taste of life with a therapy puppy on the staff team.