Aware of the potential harmful effects that the Covid-19 pandemic may have had on children’s mental health and well-being, we considered the potential benefits a school pet could bring to our school community.
And so, we welcomed Basil, our school pet and therapeutic dog in September 2020.
Basil had his own mishap during lockdown and lost a leg in a freak accident on an indoor step at the age of 18 month. The good news is that he has made a full recovery and has returned to running and jumping as if back to normal.
We turned this mishap into an opportunity and as inspiration to our children that disability need not be a barrier.
Basil is now a small but fully grown 3 legged Italian Greyhound standing no more than 30cm from the ground to his shoulder. He has been raised from 10 weeks in the same family and lives with two other whippets during non-school hours.
We believe the key benefits of having Basil are :
Basil is often introduced during one-to-one pastoral support sessions to comfort children and help them open up and talk. He also offers comfort and a calming effect for children experiencing high levels of stress and frustration.
Watching Basil grow and develop, the children learn about the responsibilities of looking after a pet including routine care and daily commitment.
Basil also offers children the opportunity to learn that animals, like humans, can communicate their needs without using words. For example, Basil can communicate when he is feeling anxious, playful or bemused.
Basil routinely undertakes regular health checks, vaccines and necessary treatment. He works with individual children, groups or classes and always under strict control and supervision.
We are aware that it may not be appropriate to introduce Basil to all our children as some children may have phobias or allergies. Any parent who does not want their child to interact with the school dog will have their wishes respected.