This year we have all experienced life changing events that have affected the way we socialise, learn and deal with life’s new paradigms. We learnt how to wash our hands while singing ‘happy birthday,’ how to wear a face mask and how to socialise while not being in close proximity to other people.

But our lessons of this year have gone well beyond those imposed on us through Covid. At the start of this year, we were so fortunate to be in a partnership program with Dogs for Life and La Trobe University, that saw 5 amazing dogs enrol in our College in order for them to benefit from our incredible learning provision. These service animals were welcomed onto the campus so that we could assist in their training, in the hope they will be given to a returned soldier.

The daily training of the dogs was mutually beneficial for staff and students. The truth is that in this crazy Covid year, these dogs provided a welcome distraction and focus for everyone on campus. In particular Pluto, the Primary school dog, an A+ student graduating, in my opinion, ‘summa cum laude,’ gave us so much in return. As he trotted into the zones, sat quietly in classrooms, or kept a watchful eye on the students as they played, Pluto brought a sense of calm to those who were more anxious, helped improve physical and social well-being of our students, helped others gain confidence and dramatically increased the positive mood in the school.

While our dogs will be moving to their new homes in the New Year, they will always be remembered for the joy they brought to us. As the Service Dog program comes to an end we are thrilled that next year we will have our very own resident dog in the Primary school to fulfil so many positive benefits that we know our four-legged friends can provide.

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