Students at Uplands Special School welcomed new companion in their midst before Christmas in the form of Ruby, a five-month-old Labrador puppy who provides therapeutic support to members of the school and in the community.
Learning Resources co-ordinator Lorna Braid said: “We were hoping to rehome a guide dog from the RNIB, but none was available, so headteacher Jackie Smith decided to get a puppy for her family and bring her into school.”
When Ruby is ten months old she will be assessed by national charity Pets as Therapy to see if she will be a suitable candidate for long-term therapeutic use.
“The charity co-ordinates volunteers with specially assessed dogs and cats to go into care homes, hospitals and schools,” said Lorna. “There are lots of health benefits associated with stroking and interacting with calm and friendly pets.
“Ruby works alongside our special needs students, providing desensitisation therapy to help many children get over their fear of dogs. She’s already providing the young people with a sense of responsibility as they take her for walks and take her out to the loo.
“Whenever Jackie is in school, so is Ruby. She’s been with us since she was eight weeks old, so has got used to the way of life, the smells and the noises, and everyone loves her.”
Ruby the working dog with Uplands students
Photo: Richard Wintle www.calyxpix.com