Hi, my name is Baloo, I am a black Labrador, and I am Cleeve Meadow’s School dog.
I love coming to school to see students and staff.
When I am not in school, I live with Mrs Nobbs and her family, and my (very!) big brother, Hugo, who is a Great Dane.
Mrs Nobbs will tell you more about me below.....
Baloo has a variety of roles as our school dog. If a student is anxious about coming into school, Baloo is taken to meet them, and the student can spend a few minutes with him, before helping a member of staff to bring him back to class- Baloo appears to give them the confidence to come into school and takes their mind of their anxiety.
Baloo attends classes, and can be used to sit next to students who are struggling to settle- the students are able to pet him, and this allows them to ground themselves and settle, ready to learn. He also loves to lay with children and “listen” to them read- this is very beneficial to students who lack confidence and are reluctant to read to an adult – Baloo will just lay and listen attentively – meaning the student doesn’t feel like they are being judged on their reading.
He has also taken part in PE lessons, with students leading him on an agility course.
His most important role has been in supporting students who are finding themselves having a challenging day, or who are upset- in these circumstances, Baloo is taken to the student, and will either sit with them, while they stroke or groom him, which helps them calm, or he will play with them in our courtyard area- within a few minutes of spending time with Baloo, the students have settled and this then enables a member of staff to sit and discuss the situation with the student to help support them further.
Baloo loves his role as the school dog, and the students (and staff!) adore him!
Dog mentor association.
Baloo was trained through the Dog mentor organisation, and they have trained dogs across the country to become school dogs.
The aim of the Dog mentor organisation is to train owners on how to use school dogs to engage and interact with students in a variety of ways, and to use dogs as a tool to enable students to develop emotional understanding and resilience.
At Cleeve Meadow we run Dog mentor groups with small groups of students- the students meet with Baloo and a member of staff and work through a booklet designed to help them understand different emotions they may feel, and strategies they can use to help them if they are feeling anxious or angry for example.