Adorable pet puppies brightening up life at a Shoreham primary school

Pupils and staff at a Shoreham primary school have seen their days brightened by a couple of furry, four-legged friends.

Monday, 13th May 2019, 3:19 pm
Headteacher Isabel Robson with Kirby, India Beverton, Jake Bowyer, Grace ONeill and Summer Canneaux

Herons Dale Primary School, in Hawkins Crescent, has introduced two puppies, Kirby and Frida, to provide some light relief for school-goers young and old.

Assistant headteacher Anastasia O’Donoghue said the positive effects of the puppies, which have been at the special needs school for around two months, were already clear to see.

“The impact of having a dog that the children are able to stroke and to have that distraction, that immediately gives a positive thing to bond over,” she said.

Headteacher Isabel Robson with Kirby, India Beverton, Jake Bowyer, Grace ONeill and Summer Canneaux

“I think for some of the children who find it hard to express themselves or are agitated, they don’t need to use words, they just need an affectionate dog.

“It’s also nice for staff to be able to decompress and to have them in meetings.”

Kirby is a border terrier, owned by headteacher, Isabel Robson and Frida is a Tibetan terrier owned by deputy head Teresa O’Connell.

Both were chosen for their hypoallergenic qualities and gentle temperament. Kirby is there at 8.30am every morning to greet the children as they enter the school.

Maisey Beaver-Middleton with deputy head Teresa O'Connell and Frida

The pair have beds around the building, which allows pupils to stroke and play with them as a reward for achievements and good behaviour.

Some classes employ a ‘now, next, then’ system, whereby children are given a task to complete now, a task to complete next and then they get to spend some time with Kirby or Frida.

There have been notable increases in communication from some children, who use the dogs, and the strong emotions they create, as reference points to construct longer, more detailed sentences in writing, signing and verbally.

The general buoyant mood and enthusiasm has also brought many children out of their shells, according to headteacher Miss Robson, even making some who were once wary of dogs more confident.

As an added bonus, she said, the puppies cannot get enough of the attention.