Meet Max and Lola, our Therapy Dogs in training!

Hi, I’m Max!
Hi, I’m Lola!

Hello, we’re Max and Lola and we work at Devonshire Primary Academy.  For therapy dogs in training, we’re a little older than usual, but we’re already very well trained and firm believers that you can teach old dogs new tricks!

We’re both Cockerpoos, which means one of our parents is a Cocker Spaniel and the other is a Poodle.  Despite Max’s lovely long hair, we’re both hypoallergenic which means our fur is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.

When we’re not at work we live with Mrs Rowlands and her family.  As a family, we love to go on long walks, play on the beach and have lots of kisses and cuddles.

In September 2022, we both began our School Therapy Dog training with KRRS Canines.  Our trainers, Tasha and Georgina, visit us regularly at school.

Although we haven’t been here long, we love working at Devonshire Primary Academy and look forward to helping the pupils to learn, achieve and be the best that they can be!

Q. What are the benefits of having a school therapy dog?

Research has shown that therapy dogs in school settings can facilitate well-being and learning outcomes and can bring joy as well as therapeutic benefits to the whole school community including:

  • Social benefits. A therapy dog promotes greater self-esteem and can provide a positive mutual topic for discussion and encourages responsibility, wellbeing and a focused interaction with others.
  • Cognitive benefits. It has been empirically proven that therapy dogs stimulate memory and problem-solving skills.
  • Emotional and mental health benefits. A school dog can help improve self-esteem and lift moods. Dogs can also teach compassion and invoke a sense of respect for living things as well as relieving anxiety.
  • Physical. Interacting with a dog in school provides tactile stimulation, gives motivation to walk and move and stimulates the senses, it can even help reduce blood pressure and assist with pain management.
  • Environment. A dog in school can promote a sense of family environment and students can take great enjoyment from interaction with a dog with all the above benefits continuing long after the school day is over.
  • Reading. When pupils read to dogs, it can help to improve their reading ability, develop literacy skills and boost confidence through the calming, non-judgemental effect the dog’s presence can have.  Pupil’s motivation and enjoyment of reading aloud can also improve even when the dog is not present.

Q. How do we know Max and Lola are ready to work in school?

Max and Lola have just started their training.  They will be assessed throughout their training by a qualified trainer and, when they have achieved full therapy dog certification, their certificates will be proudly displayed in school and on our website.

Whilst they are training, Max and Lola have asked that everybody follows these four rules:

  1. Please get permission from our handler before stroking us
  2. Please make sure we have four paws on the floor or are sat down before stroking us
  3. Please ask before entering a room we are in
  4. Please be quiet, calm and remain seated when we visit your classroom

Whilst they are training, Max and Lola don’t have a timetable in place.  Eventually, they will have their own timetable and will take rest breaks throughout the day.  While being escorted around the school, under the constant supervision of staff, Max and Lola will remain on a lead at all times.

A risk assessment and policy are in place for Max and Lola, which are reviewed regularly.

Q. What if my child is scared of dogs or has allergies?

Some children may have a fear of dogs or indeed other animals.  Max and Lola will only have contact with any of our pupils if parents/carers have given written permission for them to do so.  Research shows that through proper care and guidance, children can learn to overcome their fear and as a parent/carer you can change your permissions at any time.

Max and Lola have hypoallergenic fur, which means it is unlikely to cause an allergic reactions.  Students will be encouraged to wash their hands after working with Max and Lola.  We encourage parents with concerns about allergies to make us aware of those concerns.

Q. Does the School have a ‘No Dog Policy’ – except for Guide/Assistant Dogs?

Schools must adhere to the Health and Safety at Work Act and, as such, have to assess the risks to our pupils and staff and apply the controls to mitigate those risks.  Unfortunately, the school is unable to assess the risk of animals brought onto the site (other than those pre-arranged for educational purposes) and therefore unable to perform its duty of care to provide a safe environment.  Therefore, dogs and/or other animals are not permitted on the premises at any time.  The presence of our therapy dogs on site has been risk assessed and will be monitored closely in order to keep everyone safe.