Dog making a big difference

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Buddy dog Rosie is making a huge difference to the students at Ravenscliffe High School as part of their studies.

The school has an innovative curriculum and personalised learning programme, operating specialised needs for students aged 11 to 19, and is the only generic specialised school in Calderdale.

Deputy Head Jo Hague did some research on Guide Dogs’ buddy dog service, which sees specially chosen, lovable and well-mannered dogs provide emotional and motivational support to children with sight loss and other disabilities.

They can make a remarkable difference to a young person’s life by contributing to sensory and physical development, countering isolation and depression, increasing levels of exercise and improving communication skills.

Rosie was originally a guide dog to an elderly lady who had to go into a care home and lives with Jo evenings and weekends, but during the day she can be seen at the school as part of the teaching staff.

Jo explained: “Rosie is so good for the students. Many of them have complex needs, some with visual impairment, and being able to stroke and care for Rosie has a very calming effect on them.

“All of the students want to be with her, so much so that we have drawn up a rota for each day of the week, so that each student can have their Rosie time.

“She has brought benefits that we never expected, such as teaching the students to share, and health benefits for those students who lacked exercise and now walk with Rosie every day.”

Head teacher Martin Moorman said “Rosie has been the single most positive thing that we have done in the school. She is so good for the children and has brought so many benefits to the students.”

Guide Dogs West and North Yorkshire currently have two buddy dogs working with young people. Anyone up to the age of 25 who is blind or partially sighted and living under the care of a parent or guardian can apply for a buddy dog, which will be matched to their needs and abilities.