Puppy party for school dogs

Konan Iyer, Jaidyn Bower, Tenesha Watson, and Ronald McBride with Justus and Charlie.
Konan Iyer, Jaidyn Bower, Tenesha Watson, and Ronald McBride with Justus and Charlie.

COODANUP College students have celebrated their two in-class support dog’s birthdays with a special party.

The Year seven class organised the party so everyone could be involved, sending out invitations to teachers as well as offering students from outside the class a chance to buy tickets through the school’s student reward system.

The tickets were snapped up in a hurry showing just how much they appreciate the work done by Labradors Justus and Charlie.

Charlie started with the school as a puppy where students worked with handlers to raise and train him.

The dogs are trained to notice any anxiety or restlessness in students and head over to calm them down.

Interacting with the dogs helps to reset and focus the kids back on the class.

Coodanup College Principal Vicki Mckeown said having the dogs in the class gives students a “beacon”.

“It makes the kids feel special and involved,” she said.

Justus works in the Year seven class all day looking after the kids, but Charlie shares his love between a different schools, including Mandurah Primary School.

Mandurah Primary School principal Natasha Upcott met the dogs on a visit to Coodanup College and loved the idea of having them work with her students and has already seen a difference during Charlie’s visits.

“It’s been so successful,” she said.

“It’s almost like having another adult in the room.”

Animal Assisted Learning Trainer Jodie Toy has one of the most desirable jobs in Australia.

She works with Charlie every day and gets to see the benefits of the strong bonds between the children and Charlie.

“It feels really satisfying to see kids that aren’t travelling so well to, in a very short space of time, start to be able to regulate themselves, relax and calm down,” she said.

“It’s a really satisfying job.”