Humphrey is our original education support dog working at the Bidgee School in Wagga Wagga to support students impacted by complex trauma, abuse and other mental health conditions.
Humphrey began working with our students in late 2016 and following on from his success Frankier and Scarlett joined our school.
I have always believed strongly, and the research supports strongly, about the benefits of animal therapy for young people with disabilities and mental health issues. Humphrey has a calming influence on our students. He offers emotional support by recognising signs of anxiety and providing support by 'visiting'.
Other calming actions such as grooming and stroking foster positive feelings with learning much more likely to occur. Students emotional and physical well-being is supported through bonding and caring for the dogs and they provide unconditional love and support as only animals can.
There is also the fun and companionship aspect for students who often have few positive relationships outside of school.
The dogs greet all students at the front gate as they arrive every morning and love a game of fetch or a cuddle to start the day. This has students keen to get to school early to get a game and a cuddle in the mornings. This is such a positive start to the day.
In Humphrey's time here we've seen students who normally don't like to write being happy to write a letter to Humphrey to put on his Facebook page, students who don't like to read asking to read to Humphrey, students drawing portraits of him which are also placed on his page and parents/carers commenting positively about the impact of Humphrey on their child.
When the dogs are not working they are much-loved members of our family and enjoy long walks and playing with their many toys.