On Tuesday this week we had a special visitor in collective worship: Alfie the dog!
Alfie is a 20 week old labrador puppy who is currently living with volunteer Emma and her family to receive basic training towards becoming an assistance dog.
Michelle who works for Dogs for Good explained that assistance dogs can be trained to help people who are blind or hard of hearing, but at Dogs for Good they train dogs to support people with a variety of additional needs and disabilities (eg wheelchair users, those with autism, ADHD, Down’s Syndrome) to support the client in whichever way is necessary.
Alfie will live with Emma and her family until he is 18 months and they are taking him to busy places, into shops, cafes, lifts, so that he starts to learn to ignore external noise and focus on the person he’s with. Emma shared that it’s helping their family to lessen anxiety when accessing those places too, which is why she began volunteering.
The children were all offered the chance to say hello and pet Alfie and Michelle talked about it being important that if you see a dog with a jacket on, that they are a working dog and you need to check with the person holding the lead before approaching the dog.
This visit was arranged because last term we talked with the children during collective worship about how we could be agents of change in our community and they wanted to find out about how dogs can support people with various needs.