Radford's new therapy dog
By Claire Melloy - Assistant Principal, Students
Introducing a new member of our college community…our Therapy Dog.
She is a two-week-old, yet-to-be-named Cavoodle - non-shedding and non-allergenic. She will be old enough to leave her mother and come onto the campus in early December. She has been specifically chosen for her gentle and calm temperament.
Name our puppy: Email Claire Melloy your ideas for a name by the first week of November and we will run a community poll to name her!
What are therapy dogs?
Therapy dogs and service dogs perform different roles.
“A service dog’s main purpose is to provide equal access for someone with a disability; they are protected by law in regards to their presence in certain animal-restricted areas and are trained specifically for an individual and their disability such as visual or hearing impairments, seizures, mobility issues or diabetes.”
“Therapy dogs have a less defined role, generally they are used to provide emotional support through animal assisted therapy which can come in many forms.” They have also been shown to simply strengthen a sense of belonging and connectedness to the school setting.
They are not protected by the same laws, meaning they can be refused access to animal-restricted areas and activities such as using public transport.
What does the research tell us about the benefits of therapy dogs in schools?
Dr Christine Grové is an Educational and Developmental Psychologist from the Faculty of Education at Monash University.
She and her colleague Dr Linda Henderson, and a team of Master of Educational/Development Psychology research students at the university, are researching how therapy dogs impact student wellbeing in educational settings.
“We are looking particularly at animal therapy interventions in the school setting and how therapy dogs can support school psychologists – and how they can be used as part of a therapeutic toolkit for coping and supporting students’ to self-regulate their emotions.”
Therapy dogs can play a significant role in the school setting as part of a wellbeing program, where the dog has a distinct purpose such as supporting students with anxiety and stress.
Their role in this scenario is to improve rapport between students and the handlers or psychologists; the presence of the therapy dog creates excitement for the student and, therefore, they have a positive connotation with the therapy session and are more inclined to attend and actively participate.
Sometimes our young people find it hard to ask for help, and research has found that a therapy dog intervention often helps break the ice making this easier.
Therapy dogs have also been shown to be of significant benefit in a crisis.
What this will look like at Radford?
I will be the dog’s primary handler; secondary handlers will be Rev. Katherine Rainger and Zanele Ramsay-Daniel. She will live with me and I will take her to puppy training. We will have a designated policy and relevant risk assessment. During the day she will be based in the Student Wellbeing centre in the Secondary School, however, she will also be out on the playground (on a leash), at sporting events and in classrooms when appropriate.
If you have any questions about this initiative, please contact me, Claire Melloy, at the college at any time.
Campanini, M. The benefits of a therapy dog in the school setting. Independent Education, September 2019.
Grové, C. & Henderson, L. Therapy dogs can help reduce student stress, anxiety and improve school attendance. The Conversation, 20 March 2018.To Home