Four-legged ‘teacher’ school’s new re­cruit

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - RHI­AN­NON MCDOWALL

PRI­MARY school chil­dren in Bolling­ton might just get away with blam­ing the dog for eat­ing their homework af­ter their school adopted its very own puppy.

Rocky the Cava­chon - a cross be­tween a Bi­chon Frise and Cav­a­lier King Charles Spaniel - has been in­tro­duced St Gre­gory’s Pri­mary School as the lat­est mem­ber of staff, work­ing as a ther­apy and lis­ten­ing dog for both pupils and teach­ers.

The puppy - who is just 10 weeks old - lives in head­mas­ter John Daly’s of­fice and makes his way around the class­rooms to meet chil­dren and work with them on dif­fer­ent projects.

Mr Daly said: “The chil­dren ab­so­lutely love him, he’s very pop­u­lar.

“He’s hy­poal­ler­genic which means by one will be both­ered to him and there won’t be hairs ev­ery­where.

“He lifts peo­ples spir­its - both chil­dren and staff - if they are hav­ing a bad day they can just come and have a cud­dle. It’s well known that dogs have a very calm­ing af­fect.”

He added: “But it’s not just about be­ing a fuzzy fluff­ball, he’s a school dog and has a job.

“He is go­ing to be trained as a ther­apy and lis­ten­ing dog so the chil­dren can read to him, and he will be well so­cialised so he’s happy around all the chil­dren.

“He is very much an ed­u­ca­tional dog, the chil­dren learn about tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for some­thing other than them­selves and learn about dif­fer­ent kinds of em­pa­thy too.”

He added: “We’ve got three chil­dren with lit­tle dog pho­bias. We are one week in and al­ready one of them - with the sup­port of a par­ent and sup­port worker - has be­come much more com­fort­able around him.”

Mr Daly, who is also an Ofsted in­spec­tor, came up with the idea of get­ting a puppy for the school af­ter learn­ing about a sim­i­lar scheme in Wi­gan.

He said: “I met a teacher who had one at a school in Wi­gan.

“He told me about a child who hadn’t smiled for 18 months and as soon as the dog ar­rived they com­pletely trans­formed.

“I just thought it sounded fan­tas­tic and what a great thing for our stu­dents here.

“Ev­ery­one was so sup­port­ive of the idea straight away, gov­er­nors, the par­ents, they all thought it was great.”

The dog en­joyed his first out­ing at the school fair at the week­end and the PTA have even bought him a cus­tomised St Gre­gory’s Jacket and lead.

●● Rocky pic­tured at school with head­teacher John Daly and pupils

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