Springer spaniel Stanley is settling in well at St Anne’s
PUPILS and staff at St Anne’s School in Alderney were falling head over heels for their newest recruit this week – Stanley, the therapy dog.
The 10-week-old springer spaniel puppy is being trained by Guernsey charity Paws for Support to work as a stress-defusing school pet.
He is also expected to be trained up as a ‘reading’ dog, offering a non-judgemental audience of one for under-confident readers.
He was brought into the school by special educational needs teacher and inclusion manager Kim Smith, who will look after the dog and help train it, closely guided by Paws for Support.
Mrs Smith said the school’s reaction to the dog had been amazing.
‘I could barely get down the corridor because of staff wanting to meet him – let alone the children.
‘Although he’s very young he’s been obviously very well socialised by Paws for Support as he’s not fazed by meeting anybody.
‘At first Stanley will come in for just a few hours a day to get used to being at school and an office has been designated his ‘safe space’.
He will also go into the Connaught Care Home and the Mind Centre.
‘It will be a mixture of him going into classes, for example in a class where pupils are stressed during exams, and doing one-to-one work with specific children.
‘At first when we go into classes he may be a bit of a distraction but I think children will very quickly get used to him.’
He’s already a firm favourite with Ryan Davey and Jess Coleman, both 15.
They had the idea two years ago of adopting a therapy dog.
‘Our class gets quite anxious when tests are coming up and during tests,’ said Ryan.
‘The idea began as a joke, with us saying, “imagine if we had a dog in the class to calm us down”.
‘Then we found out that you can actually get a therapy dog and that got the ball rolling for Stanley to come here.
‘Stanley will be great at calming down pupils with behavioural difficulties too.
‘I think everyone’s going to love him.’
Stanley’s training is being sponsored by the Guernsey branch of Intertrust.
Paws for Support has already trained two therapy dogs which share a full-time role in Les Voies School, a school for young people who experience social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and visiting therapy dogs which go to six other schools in the Bailiwick.
Stanley’s brother is to become a visiting therapy dog in Sark.