My name is Romeo and I am the newest member of staff at Shapla primary School, where I work as the school dog. I am a pedigree Golden Retriever, which means I am very friendly, obedient, hard-working, calm and gentle – perfect for working with children.
My role as school dog is challenging and varied but I feel that I am more than up to the task. Numerous research studies have shown the benefits of dogs in schools. Therapy dogs have been working in schools across the UK for the past 5 years. However, they have been commonplace in schools in the USA and Australia for many years now. Evidence indicates that areas of potential benefits include:
- Cognitive development – companionship with a dog stimulates memory, problem-solving, game-playing and can improve reading skills.
- Emotional development – a school dog improves self-esteem, acceptance from others and lifts mood, often provoking laughter and fun. Dogs can also teach compassion and respect for other living things as well as relieving anxiety.
- Physical development – interaction with a pet reduces blood pressure, provides tactile stimulation, assists with pain management, gives motivation to move, walk and stimulates the senses.
- Environmental benefits – a dog in a school contributes towards the creation of home style environment, with all of the above benefits continuing long after the school day is over.
- Social benefits – a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion, encourages responsibility, wellbeing, developing social skills and focused interaction with others.
But what will my role as school dog at Shapla entail? During school hours I will have a challenging and ever-changing job. I will be spending a lot of time helping with a variety of interventions. I will be joining Reception class when they start to take part in Forest School adventures. I will also work as a reading dog where I will listen to children reading me stories and answering questions. Sometimes, I may join a class for a lesson or two if it will enrich the experience in some way.
PS – I also love to dress up sometimes!
‘Romeo’ written in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, created by Ariana in Year 4.