リーディング＆リスニング “School Therapy Dog”
This year has been pretty stressful for a lot of us, but the kids at Kidman Park Primary School have had some help of the four-legged variety. They have their own therapy dog, Apollo, who’s been specially trained to make kids feel more relaxed and make school a less stressful place to be.
Meet Apollo. He’s not your average classmate. For starters, he’s quite hairy and he doesn’t say much, but he’s a really good listener.
NATALIE: I like stroking Apollo and talking to him. He’s just so cute, it lets the worries just melt away.
KANI: So whenever we have friendship problems, we can go to Apollo we can pat him, talk to him and it calms us down.
You see, Apollo isn’t just your regular pooch, he’s a therapy dog. Which means he’s here to help.
EMMA: He helps students be comfortable around their surroundings and if we have a problem we go to Apollo.
KANI: We’ve got some children with severe multiple needs, so Apollo goes into the learning centre regularly.
AMELIA, REPORTER: So, Miss Amanda, why did you decide to get Apollo at your school?
AMANDA WALKER, ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL: So, we’ve done a bit of research around the effects that dogs have on kids and their wellbeing and their mental health and we discovered that around the world it’s becoming more of a trend to have dogs in nursing homes, in schools and in other settings so we started looking into it and we contacted guide dogs and then we just went from there.
Apollo has been especially important to these guys in 2020.
KANI: Kids have been stressed out a lot, so we can just go to Apollo and talk about it and stroke him.
Luckily Kani, Emma and Natalie say he’s the right dog for the job.
EMMA: He’s very happy around people.
NATALIE: He won’t get up and walk away like other dogs. He’ll just sit there and listen to you.
But since this little guy has been specially trained, there are some rules to follow.
NATALIE: When he hasn’t got the bandana on it means he’s working and that he needs to concentrate, so you can’t go up to him and give him pats.
EMMA: You can’t order him around because then he doesn’t learn to just listen to Miss Amanda.
But when his jacket’s off, it’s playtime.
KANI: If we’ve achieved something that we’re proud of or been on good behaviour we can take him to the hall and play fetch and he loves it.
AMANDA WALKER, ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL: People sometimes worry does he get enough rest time? The minute the school bell goes his jacket’s off and he’s running around the halls playing fetch, so he’s loving life.
AMELIA: Aw, what a good boy.
AMANDA WALKER, ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL: He is a good boy.
And a popular boy to boot.
NATALIE: Oh, Apollo is a very popular dog. Everyone, when they know Miss Amanda is coming around to classes they’ll always go “Is Apollo coming?”.
KANI: It’s made us more happier and more focused to learn and dedicated to our work.
EMMA: I think other schools should get a dog like Apollo because it makes the school a better place.