THERE was huge excitement in Midleton CBS Primary School on Monday morning when Alfie - a 16-week-old Goldendoodle puppy - commenced his duties as a school therapy dog.
Midleton CBS Primary School has become the first mainstream school in Cork to receive a school therapy dog.
School principal Niamh O’Leary said both the students and the staff members were thrilled to see their new canine companion.
“The staff know he was coming, but he was a big surprise for the boys.
"They only found out this morning when they saw him wandering around the hall. He is gorgeous. It is the start of a new journey for our school,” she said.
Ms O’Leary said Midleton CBS Primary School is delighted to benefit from this new initiative which is designed to help reduce the anxiety levels among primary school students.
“We got him assigned to the school through My Canine Companion Autism and Therapy Service Dogs who have just started a school programme.
"We think this is the opportune time to get a school therapy dog as anxiety levels in children are on the rise as a result of Covid. Trying to readjust to coming into the school environment and being away from parents can be a very hard transition for some boys," she said.
The all-boys primary school has classes from first up to sixth class and also boasts three special classes for autistic children.
Ms O’Leary envisages Alfie creating a ‘ripple effect’ going forward in the development of their students.
“We have over 220 families in our school who will benefit from the ripple effect Alfie will bring. If there is an odd tear from a pupil in the morning going for a little walk with Alfie would be a nice treat.
“We also see him popping into the classes just as a morale booster. We started a nurture room this year which deals in areas such as social and emotional development for children. We see him spending some time in this room with the children who would be in and out during the day.
"Children have to be in a relaxed environment to learn. We aim to create a relaxed calm environment so they can flourish,” she added.