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Bella – Our School Dog

August 2019 – Part 2

Bella spent the Bank Holiday weekend up in the North East of England visiting the Peak District and North Yorkshire.

August 2019

At the start of the Summer break Bella was spayed. She recovered really well from her operation and when she was discharged by the Vet, Mrs O’Shaughnessy and her husband took her on visits to Devon, Cornwall and Wales.   As we were going to Devon we booked in for a training session with Gail, who is the DHK Director for Education. She said that Bella is doing very well and has a lovely temperament.  Bella worked very hard at this session which involved exercises on grass in the paddock and also on sand in the barn.

Our training session

During the trips away Bella had lots of socialisation opportunities. She met lots of new people and loads of dogs – including a King Charles puppy called Nemo.  She also saw sheep out on the moors and some ponies.  She even got up close to some pigs – she was a bit scared of them to start with but was very interested in what they were doing. 

Bella has also been to stay with her Kennel Club breeders and spent a few happy days with her brother, mother and grandparents.  She was very tired when she came home and has been catching up on her sleep.    

June 2019

Bella is continuing to do well.  She is now 17 weeks old and is growing up so fast. We are doing lots of training with her and she is a very bright student who is always keen to learn. To keep her mentally stimulated we are also teaching her a few ‘tricks’ such as ‘spin’ and ‘middle’ and ‘roll over’.  She has so far mastered ‘middle’ and as you can see she still needs lots of sleep!

The children, staff and families are doing a good job at ‘ignoring her’ when they see her at school  and a number of them have received Bella stickers and certificates in appreciation of how good they have been at doing this.

And finally, we are pleased to let you know that Bella now has a profile on the DHK website under 2019 Puppies.

May 2019

We are pleased to say that Bella has attended her first intensive Puppy Training day at the DHK Headquarters in Devon.   She worked really hard on the training day and Tracey Berridge, Founder and Chief Executive of Dogs Helping Kids was really pleased with the progress that Bella has already made.

While in Devon she met lots of new people and their dogs and also went on the beach for the first time.

   Bella has her new DHK coat on for the first time in school.

April 2019

Bella is settling in well and is enjoying learning lots of new things. She visited school during the Easter break when school was very quiet and she will start coming into school regularly from Monday 29 April.  She loves her new bed and toys.

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.

March 2019

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.