Monty is a pure-bred, Golden Retriever who a fully trained school therapy dog. Monty was in his regular puppy school with his owner Julie, when his trainer, Megs Hopman, saw the potential Monty had to become a service dog, due to his gentle nature and calming presence.
There has been extensive research and studies in recent years on the benefits of dogs in schools. It has been shown that all students can benefit from an assistance dog, however the dogs have been shown to make a significant positive impact on students with disabilities, particularly Autism Spectrum Disorder. Evidence indicates that benefits include:
- Cognitive – companionship with a dog stimulates memory, problem-solving and game-playing
- Social – a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion, encourages responsibility, wellbeing and focused interaction with others
- Emotional – a school dog improves self-esteem, acceptance from others and lifts mood, often provoking laughter and fun. Dogs can also teach compassion and respect for other living things as well as relieving anxiety.
- Physical – interaction with a furry friend reduces blood pressure, provides tactile stimulation, assists with pain management, gives motivation to move, walk and stimulates the senses
- Environmental – a dog in a school increases the sense of a family environment, with all of the above benefits continuing long after the school day is over.
Monty will be at school from Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and having a rest at home on Thursdays and Fridays (being a school dog is exhausting!)