Canine Companions at Glenorchy Primary School
19 March 2021
There are not many things in this world that can raise spirits like the sound of paws clip-clopping down a hallway. At Glenorchy Primary School, those little paws belong to canine colleagues Claire, Oscar, and Moo Dog. Claire and Oscar are “old hands” and have been on the staff list for two years now, with Moo Dog the newest member of the team.
The benefits of having canine companions in schools cannot be overstated. Wendy Potter, Principal of Glenorchy Primary School, credits the presence of Oscar, Claire and Moo Dog for adding considerably to the school environment. “They help if students are feeling sad or lonely; they teach the skills of empathy and kindness; they help students be calm and settled in class; and they love listening to books.”
At Glenorchy, each dog is assessed for suitability by an animal behaviourist. The guidelines outlined in the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organisations (IAHAIO) White Paper (2018), and the guidelines of the Animal Welfare League Australia, are followed. The Delta Dog program is also used to help students know how to behave around dogs.
Students learn how to be responsible and caring by helping to look after Glenorchy’s pooches. Some have even learned to overcome their fear of dogs with Claire and Oscar’s help. As one student said, “Who can be scared of Oscar?”