Meet Bear, the School Dog
Harris Academy Ockendon are proud to introduce you to our school dog. He is a ‘Golden Doodle’, a cross between a Golden Retriever and a Standard Poodle. At around 43kg he is a gentle giant, a huge bundle of licks and love: appropriately, his name is Bear.
Repeated studies show that school dogs can have an enormously positive impact on a school. Indeed, there has been one at Harris Greenwich for over a year now to much success. Bear has been prioritised to the Senior Leadership Team, SEN department and Pastoral Team who use him to work with some of our more vulnerable students. Children experiencing emotional trauma or struggling to cope with autism or other learning issues often find the company of a dog to be transformative. Bear is often taken for short walks by students and read to by reluctant readers; he listens patiently in therapy sessions and helps to de-escalate anxious students.
We have of course completed a risk assessment to make sure his presence is a safe one – measures are in place such as hand washing and an adult will always be present. As a poodle cross, he does not moult, these kinds of dogs are often described as ‘hypo-allergenic’ which reduces the risk of allergic reactions considerably. However, we do take appropriate measures to ensure that anyone with an allergy is kept away from Bear.
Similarly, if a child has a genuine dog phobia, we either make sure they have no contact, or we try to help by using our counsellor and Bear to overcome this anxiety.
Bear has made many new friends since joining the academy and is always looking forward to making new ones.