The Child-Animal Bond by Anglea Crook

Working as an Animal assisted intervention practitioner encompasses so many varied aspects of therapeutic and strategic interventions in an enormous range of settings, including schools, universities, hospitals, the workplace, care homes and 1:1 bespoke programmes.

Here is a tiny snapshot of just one aspect of this exciting and rewarding role highlighting the very real and simple “magic” the presence of a Therapy Dog can have within the classroom environment.

I don’t really like English.
I’ve only just joined this class and somebody always gets chosen to read aloud.
We have Ferne the School Dog in our lesson today, she is sitting on her blanket with her handler. She looks very calm.
I’m feeling quite scared, my leg keeps twitching up and down and I’m really sweaty.
All the windows are open because of Covid and I can smell onions cooking from next door which I don’t like.
The lights are really flickery too.
Mrs T is asking people to read in turns, I’m sure I will be next.
I’m so nervous I can’t follow where we are in the book and the lines are all jumbled.
I wish I hadn’t left my fiddle toy in my bag at break.
I’m panicking in my tummy, I just want to go home.
Ferne’s handler comes over to my desk and asks if I would like to sit in the sensory area with her and Ferne, I’m not really sure, everyone is looking at me.
I take my book anyway and sit next to Ferne on the squishy blue bean bag, it’s darker over here and I feel safer.
Ferne looks at me with her big brown eyes and rests her paws on my leg which is kind of cute.
I stroke her back gently, she is nice and warm and I can feel her soft silky fur.
If I concentrate hard, I can feel her breathing slowly and feel her heartbeat which helps me to feel calm.
Mrs C asks if I would like to try reading to Ferne, I’ll give it a try.
I’m not really very good at reading.
I get all mixed up and my mouth goes all dry.
Today I manage a whole page with only a few mix ups.
I show Ferne the pictures at the end, Ferne is looking very relaxed, I think she enjoyed my story.
I don’t feel scared or panicky in my tummy any more.
English isn’t really that bad after all.
Mrs A asks if I would like Ferne to walk me down to my PE lesson.
I feel proud.
I have some of Ferne’s fur on my trousers but I don’t mind.
I think Ferne and I are going to become friends.