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Bella – Our School Dog

Bella has arrived in Hertfordshire.  She is now 8 weeks old and she is getting used to living with Mrs O’Shaughnessy and her family.

She is a lovely friendly puppy. She is very calm and placid and still sleeps quite a lot during the day.  But when she is awake she loves to play with her toys and make new friends.

Please meet Bella, our new member of staff.

Bella will become a regular attender at the school from the beginning of the Summer Term as she starts her training to become our Educational Assistance dog as part of our on-going mental health and well-being provision.

To ensure that our school dog is safe to work in an educational environment we have registered with the charity Dogs Helping Kids (DHK). DHK are one of the only organisations in the country training and assessing dogs purely to work in an educational environment as both educational and therapeutic aids.  We shared their belief that a dog should only be working with a child, in an educational environment, if it has been trained, assessed and certified to do so.   You can find out more about school dogs from the Dogs Helping Kids website at: http://www.dogshelpingkids.co.uk

Bella will be owned by Mrs O’Shaughnessy and when she is at school she will be based in the school admin office which is secure and separate from the classrooms.  For her first year in school, she will be behind the scenes and will have little contact with the children as she gets used to her new surroundings.  If she does venture out of the office she will be kept on a short lead and will always be with an adult.

Children and staff have been asked to ‘ignore’ her if they see her around school so she can become accustomed to the school environment and learn to ‘love’ her other home.

During her first year Bella will attend weekly puppy training sessions and training and assessment workshops at the DHK headquarters as we work towards completing the Puppy Training Programme. This is then followed by a two year training programme and then annual assessments.

Only once Bella has completed her puppy training will she start to ‘work’ with children from Year 1 to Year 6.  Under no circumstances would any child be forced to  meet with Bella and we will do everything we can to reassure children who are fearful of dogs.

We hope that you join us in welcoming Bella to our school community.  Please check in regularly to see updates of her development and progress.

If you have any questions or queries please take a look at our FAQs sheet. Hopefully this will provide the answer to any questions you have but if not then please email us at: mailto:admin@oakview.herts.sch.uk(please put School Dog on the subject line).

Here are some other pictures of Bella’s journey so far.