Goulburn High School has a new four-legged staff member. Miss Alice has only been on the job a few weeks but her dogged approach to work has already won over teachers and students alike.
Alice, a tamaruke puppy, joined the team as an Educational Support Dog. The playful pup is the fur-baby of proud mum Rhiannon Travers.
The PDHPE teacher started research into the benefits of therapy dogs in early 2019. Flash-forward a year and the duo are turning heads at the school. The pair work closely with the support unit and assist students diagnosed with an intellectual disability, autism or behavioral needs.
Alice will be a fully qualified support dog in 12 months. The Goulburn Soldier's Club generously donated $5000 to pay for training.
At the end of her training Alice will be an expert in recognising stressed, anxious or overwhelmed students and able to calm them down and prevent meltdowns.
The little puppy is a keen learner and has already started to master the tricks of the trade.
"After one training session Alice was already picking up if students were not feeling okay," Ms Travers said.
"She runs over, sits on their lap and gives them kisses and cuddles.
"She's already working really well."
Ms Travers first picked up the plucky puppy on January 26. Alice started coming to school at the beginning of the term and has hardly missed a day since.
The tamaruke is special breed of dog ideally suited to therapy and support work. In addition to having a laid back temperament, the breed is hypo-allergenic and non-shedding.
Ms Travers said as well as boosting morale Alice helped to make the school a safe and welcoming place.
"For some students home is not the best place so Alice helps make school a welcoming environment."
The support dog will be integrated into the mainstream sections of the school to help troubled or disruptive students and boost a positive attitude.
Does Alice enjoy her work? Without a doubt but don't let her cute face and wagging tail fool you - she takes her new position very seriously.
"In the morning Alice runs to jump in the car then through the front gate of the school and straight into the staff room to greet everyone and start the day," Ms Travers said.
"She just loves it, I'm so glad it's working."
Follow Alice on Instagram: missalice_thetamaruke.
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