THERAPY dog Merryn who regularly attends sessions at schools in Bromsgrove and Rubery won an award at Crufts for the work she has done with children.
Owner Jackie Medler took Merryn to the show at the NEC, along with fellow therapy dog Orla, and featured in this year’s Discover Dogs section in conjunction with Therapy Dogs Nationwide.
Jackie, Merryn and Orla visit Holywell Primary School in Rubery and Bromsgrove’s Chadsgrove School on a weekly basis.
They also go to Waseley Hills High School, sixth-form colleges and Birmingham University and accept other one-off invitations to organisations such as Beavers and Brownies.
At the schools with the younger children, the dogs help encourage literacy through the ‘Paws and Read’ scheme. Pupils choose a book and then read to the therapy dog.
When it comes to colleges and universities the dogs help with stress-busting and relieving pressure ahead of exams.
Jackie said: “We don’t show our dogs so it was quite something to come away from Crufts with a winner’s rosette and trophy.”
The accolade is a timely one as this week University of Buckingham’s vice chancellor Sir Anthony Seldon, speaking at the Ultimate Wellbeing in Education Conference, said every school in the country should have a dog as it would help reduce anxiety among young people.
Jackie added: “It’s an amazing idea to have Therapy Dogs in schools, so long as it is understood that all Therapy Dogs should be temperament assessed for that purpose and have full liability insurance cover through whichever charity they are affiliated to
“Consideration must also be given to the well-being of the dogs as schools can be stressful environments to work in and dogs really could struggle if taken into school at too early an age or expected to work all day long.
“It’s essential to balance the needs of the students, the school, the dog and the handlers and volunteers.”