Dogs with jobs! We all know that owning a dog brings with it health benefits. More recently dogs are providing therapy, support and assistance within our schools and homes in the form of "assistance dogs" or "school dogs".
We are very proud to be able to say that several dogs we have bred and raised here at Nortnewydd Kennels have gone on to work within schools, domestic homes and care homes.
Sproodles offer a super range of attributes that mean they are a great option as a breed to fulfil a service dog role. Their trainable nature is ideal for the obedience element required. Their biddable companion orientated personalities tick the "loyal" box they literally live to please you! Having the low moult coat is a standard requirement as many special needs children suffer from allergies alongside their conditions. Their size is also manageable and as such they tend not to overwhelm less dog aware children.
Due to the nature of the Puppy Culture Protocols we use here, puppies bred at Nortnewydd can be particularly suited to job based roles. Having bred Sproodles for over a decade we are able to assess the puppies as they develop and we can see the individual personality traits emerge as their weeks with us pass. Within each litter there are usually one or two puppies that would excel in an environment that provides them with a job.
If you are looking for an Assistance Dog, PAT Dog, SN Dog, Reading Dog, Service Dog or School Dog then please do not hesitate to get in touch via the contact form on the site we will be more than happy to help you. We hope that the education system embraces this movement and that our children have the chance to benefit from the lessons our canine friends can teach them.
"Improving wellbeing in children through the love of mans best friend"
Below is Maisie one of our Sproodles, working with a pupil during a reading session at the Special Needs School she works in. Maisie is a full time therapy dog and assists the pupils at her school with their educational studies and their emotional development.
BBC News "every school needs a dog as a stress buster" Sir Anthony Seldon
Here is what Lynn had to say about her "School Dog Journey".
"I have always wanted a dog but, as a busy Deputy Headteacher, work hours and commitments just wouldn't allow for this; however, I was talking to a friend of mine about 5 years ago who then suggested getting a 'reading dog' for school. I must admit my initial reaction was to laugh and thought that it wasn't possible. She then explained that a local secondary school had one and directed me towards various reports online to support this.
I spent some time reading these before approaching the Headteacher with the suggestion. Initially, he was sceptical but, over a period of months, I bombarded him with articles around this and at Christmas 2015 he finally agreed. I then started researching suitable breeds, being mindful of the size of my house and the needs of the school and came up with the idea of a Sproodle. I also spent some time researching breeders and came across Nortnewydd Sproodles. I was impressed by their website and with their approach to breeding and rearing puppies, particularly in ensuring that the prospective owners were suitable to have one of their puppies. I was keen to pick up a puppy at the start of the summer holidays so that I had time to house train her and socialise her before she started full time in a busy secondary school with nearly 2000 students! Fortunately, Rebecca had mated her dogs at Easter and Maisie was born on 7 June 2016 - just in time to be collected towards the end of July.
I spent a week with her at home with friends visiting and then started taking her in to an empty school to get her used to the sights and smells, some admin staff were working at this time, so she was able to meet them also. I was mindful that in September she would be thrown in to the thick of it in a bustling comprehensive school so took her in for the A' Level and GCSE results days where she met the students for the first time and was an instant hit. I was keen to start training as soon as possible and was introduced to Denise Ellis (Paws Out Dog Training), Denise came to my house for a 1:1 session with us and Maisie started formal puppy classes in October.
I've been amazed at how she had adapted to school life and loves being there. During the day she lives in the Zone which is part of our Inclusion (SEN) department, she has a 'timetable' where she 'works' with specific students who are on the autistic spectrum and has had a significant impact on their social and communication skills. In addition to this, she attends counselling sessions with some students, we have two counsellors in school and one commented 'Interacting with an animal is a natural self-soother and can provide another centre of attention so the client doesn't feel that the spotlight is on her/him all the time'.
Furthermore, she acts as a reading companion either to students who are reluctant readers or as a reward for those who enjoy reading and just like hanging out with Maisie. As she loves a cuddle and soaks up attention from everyone, she plays an integral part in helping students (and staff) who are feeling stressed. Stroking animals releases good endorphins and helps lower blood pressure so is beneficial for anyone who is in a high state of anxiety or stress. At these times, students (or staff) will just sit with her and relax or may take her for a walk/play ball - she has such a happy face when chasing her ball and the pure joy she displays when running, just because she can, is uplifting and you can't help but smile.
Some of the younger students act as Maisie Monitors and help walk her at lunchtime (on the field surrounded by hundreds of students playing football), which doesn’t seem to phase her. This is also an important part of her role as these tend to be the quieter students who maybe wouldn’t normally venture out on to the busy field at lunch but having the responsibility of walking the school dog gives them the confidence to be there and it can be empowering to be responsible for another living creature for a period of time.
Maisie is more than a therapy dog, she’s now part of the fabric of the school. Visitors always ask after her and want to see her before they leave, she engages everyone who comes in to contact with her. Her character and nature are perfect for her role in school and she almost behaves intuitively in situations. She has learnt which offices stock treats and when on walkabout with me, will stop and ‘knock’ (literally) at specific doors, sit pretty or do a trick, get her treat and a cuddle and then continues with her duties.
Since September, I have been in contact with five schools all interested in having a school dog and was contacted recently by one of them confirming that they were successful in persuading their Headteacher to have a dog and have just picked up a puppy from Rebecca!
My Headteacher retired at Christmas and he commented on how he had been sceptical about having a school dog but was overwhelmed by the impact she has had and the benefits it has brought our community. To quote one year 7 student ‘Maisie is AMAZING!’
If anyone has any doubts about having a school dog, please don’t. However, do ensure you choose a breed that is biddable, likes attention and is good with children. It’s important that you have space and time for them, early socialisation and training is essential. Maisie hasn’t been ‘trained’ formally as a therapy dog but has followed all the APDT training programmes which covers all the assessment criteria outlined for therapy dogs and now enjoys agility on a Saturday morning.
I can honestly say buying Maisie was one of the best decisions I have made both personally and professionally"
As well as Sproodles we occasionally breed a litter of Miniature Labradoodles. They too have been hugely successful as School Dogs and Therapy Dogs. Here are some pictures of ours out doing their job!
Cooper enjoying a reading session with his pupils.
Edison already making waves!
Cooper and his owner Maria Bull