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Therapy Dog Welcomes Students

May 26, 2020

STUDENTS across Victoria are packing their school bags for the first time in months and heading back to classrooms today.

Most will have to leave parents and pets at home, however a lucky group of primary school children at Gippsland Grammar will be welcomed on campus by the wagging tail of Wilson, the school’s resident comfort dog.

“You cannot underestimate the emotions of our young people and how they are feeling as they return to school after learning from home for such a length of time,” said Gippsland Grammar’s head of Bairnsdale campus, Virginia Evans.

“With the return to school, we are doing everything to provide a safe and happy environment for our students and we want our families to feel a great sense of belonging and familiarity as they arrive.

“Wilson is an integral part of our community and provides not only comfort, but enjoyment … the children absolutely love him.”

The 15-month-old Golden Retriever is owned by Gippsland Grammar Foundation teacher Libby Crowe.

Early in Wilson’s training it was identified that his temperament was suited to being a therapy dog.

School therapy dogs provide comfort and support to children and teachers; helping lower anxiety, increase empathy and decrease the incidence of bullying.

While Wilson’s training is a bit behind schedule because of COVID-19 he still managed to be part of the children’s learning during the school’s remote learning program.

Mrs Crowe and Wilson connected with students using video conferencing technology to share books every day during story time.

Gippsland Grammar students in its Early Learning Centre, Foundation, Year 1 and Year 2 classes return to the Bairnsdale campus today, while Year 11 and 12, VCE and VCAL students return to the Garnsey Campus, in Sale. All other students will return to school on June 9.

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