Poppy is our school dog. She is a black and white Cocker Spaniel and is three years old. Poppy was chosen following much research into suitable breeds to work with children. Poppy’s mother was seen and was quiet and well behaved – traits that were important for Poppy to have. Poppy was bred and brought up in a family home. Her mum is a family pet. Poppy had already been well socialised with children both in the home and on a visit to a local primary school in Fermanagh! As soon as Poppy was brought to her forever home her affinity with children was obvious.
Poppy has attended school since she was twelve weeks old. She has been carefully introduced into school life to ensure that the noises, sights and sounds of the day don’t frighten her or make her cross. She has been trained not to jump up on children and will patiently sit on ‘her’ chair in the office waiting to be noticed
Poppy is fully house trained and all her vaccinations and treatments for parasites up to date. She has a risk assessment and is carefully monitored throughout her day. Poppy stays in Mrs Burke’s office and moves around the school on her lead. Poppy’s rights to water and a quiet space to relax throughout the day are observed as her welfare is very important too. Interaction with Poppy is purely voluntary.
Poppy is a great source of comfort for children who are upset or in crisis. She is warm and soft and loves a cuddle. Poppy instinctively knows how to help children snuffling in if they are curled up, frightened and worried. Poppy’s little black nose makes contact and reassures them that she is there. Poppy listens to any worries they may have. She never judges or offers an opinion! Children are free to visit Poppy in Mrs Burke’s office at any time if they need to see her. Children and Poppy are closely supervised at all times.
Poppy loves to see excellent classwork and to spend time with pupils from primary who have been awarded ‘Star of the Week’.
Older pupils take Poppy for a walk or to the old tennis court for a game with her ball. Poppy runs around chasing her ball and has great fun (as do the pupils). She always comes back ready for a snooze.
Poppy is a valued member of our team with the ability to get through to a troubled child and bring a smile to their face when all other approaches have failed. She brings joy to children and adds a sense of fun to school. What greater gift can anyone have?