A RESCUE dog has become the most popular member of staff at Myton School in Warwick.
Willow was rescued by Dogs Trust Kenilworth last year and was adopted by the school’s assistant Special Educational Needs Coordinator Louise Cleaver.
She has rescued five dogs previously and was looking for a dog who would be suitable to bring into school.
Louise said: “The benefit of using a school dog to help anxious and upset children is well-documented.
“When I saw Dogs Trust had some small dogs ready to find their forever homes, I was very keen to have one of them and I made sure I was there early the next morning. By the time they opened the doors, the queue of potential new owners stretched right back across the car park.”
But Willow had a tough time before she arrived at the rehoming centre, and when Louise first met her she was unresponsive, nervous and untrained.
The school coordinator saw her potential and visited Willow every day, taking her grandchildren with her to get the dog used to mixing with youngsters.
Three weeks later, Louise took Willow home and continued her rehabilitation.
And after six months she was ready to come into school – just as coronavirus struck.
During lockdown Myton was open to vulnerable students and the children of key workers, and this smaller group meant Willow could get used to the school at her own pace.
Louise says the impact her presence had on students and staff during the lockdown period was instant and amazing.
And now the school is fully open Willow can regularly be seen – on the lead – around the school grounds and in the Learning and Inclusion Centre.
Louise added: “Willow loves her new ‘job.
“We have to be careful at the moment because of covid but I’ve got plans to introduce her to students across the school one year-group bubble at a time. She’s here for everyone’s benefit and I’m keen for all students who want to, to meet her.”
Dogs Trust Kenilworth assistant manager James Ackner said: “It is always fantastic to hear how our beautiful dogs are settling into their new homes so it was great to hear how happy Willow is and the very special role she has at the school.”