He’s already settling in well.
It was bark to school this month at Cork post-primary boys’ school Coláiste Chríost Rí, as staff and students welcomed a Community Dog to the population this month.
Iver, a golden retriever, has completed his two years of training with the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind charity and works daily as an extra team resource to support the student learning process.
He has three trained handlers; maths teacher Jamie Burns, Seámus Hayes, business studies teacher/counsellor, and wellbeing teacher/counsellor Leanne O’Shea, who facilitate his timetabled assignments, which include classroom activities or sessions with individual students and groups as needed.
“Iver was trained as a Community Dog because of his friendly nature and gentle disposition and he has already settled in very well, adding a supportive and calming presence as he sets out to fulfill his role through direct student engagement, in-class activity, and in due course within the exam environment,” said Principal Padraig Mac An Rí.
“The entire teaching and student body are responding wonderfully as he establishes his routine and all have received online training on how to engage with a working dog. Our transition year students will build on this by participating in an Animal Welfare class this year.
Iver travels from his home with Jamie Burns each day and works to a daily timetable, which includes four or five classroom sessions, with rest periods included.
He has his own rest area, toys, and exercise plan and his handlers are trained to recognise and act on any behavioural signs of stress as governed by the terms of the Community Dog Programme.
“The initiative is a big hit and we look forward to how Iver will continue to enrich the school experience for everyone in the coming years,” added Mr Mac An Rí.