Rumi is now 15 months old and a much valued and well liked member of staff. Rumi visits classrooms and the playground, and he continues to receive training so that he can become a fully qualified ‘therapy dog’. During a year that has been very stop start in nature, Rumi, like the children, has adapted well and has been a welcome source of comfort to pupils and staff.
Rumi is owned by Mr Sedaghat, our Pastoral Support Lead. The rationale for having a school therapy dog is to have a dog that children could interact with, but also to offer support in the following areas:
Cognitive – companionship with a dog stimulates memory, problem-solving and game-playing.
Social – a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion and encourages responsibility, wellbeing and focused interaction with others.
Emotional – 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 – interaction with a furry friend reduces blood pressure, provides tactile stimulation, assists with pain management, gives motivation to move and walk, and stimulates the senses.
Environmental – a dog in a school increases the sense of a family environment, with all of the above benefits continuing long after the school day is over.
Reading – reading to dogs has been proven to help children develop literacy skills and build confidence, through both the calming effect the dog’s presence has on children, as well as the fact that a dog will listen to children read without being judgemental or critical. This comforting environment helps to nurture children’s enthusiasm for reading and provides them with the confidence to read aloud.
Research shows huge benefits for many children with Autism where dogs promote a sense of calm, encourage interaction and build confidence in social and emotional development.
Updates about Rumi are on the school’s YouTube channel, which is live now!
Some concerns Parents/Carers might have:
My child is allergic to dogs
It is understandable that some parents may be concerned about their child’s possible allergic reaction to a school dog. However, Rumi will be subjected to the most thorough cleanliness and grooming regime. He will also only be allowed in situations with pupils who voluntarily wish to work with him. Parent/Carer permission will of course be sought in advance of Rumi having access to, and working with, each child in school.
Will Rumi be properly cared for?
The puppy lives with Mr Sedaghat and is being introduced to the school environment and the children gradually. Mr Sedaghat takes Rumi to a local vet’s practise where Rumi had his initial puppy health check and is up to date with his vaccinations and worming treatment in line with European Veterinary Guidelines. Mr Sedaghat keeps a record of all of Rumi’s health checks.
Rumi comes to school most days but stays safely in the office whilst his training is completed. He will, in time, listen to pupils read in a controlled setting and will always be accompanied by a trained adult. He is undergoing thorough and rigorous training so will be extremely well-behaved. Whilst Rumi is in school, he will have access to a dog crate in the office where he can relax during the day. This is where he will spend most of his time initially. If Rumi is unwell for any reason he will stay at home with a babysitter!
My child is scared of dogs
Some children may have had upsetting experiences and thus have a fear of dogs (or another animal). Rumi will only be in contact with children whose parents have given their permission. However, Rumi’s training will help him to be calm and gentle around children; he already shows signs of a very loving and gentle nature. Experience and research have shown that, with proper guidance and handling, children can learn to overcome their fear of animals and grow in respect and appreciation for them.
We hope you will join us in welcoming Rumi to the Marjory Kinnon School family and embrace all that he has to offer the school. A letter will be sent home to seek Parent’s permission regarding their child’s contact with Rumi before contact occurs in a reading or therapy setting. There may be times before that when the dog is introduced to classes or in assemblies without physical contact. If Parents/Carers have any concerns regarding this, then please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the heading ‘School Dog’.