Students and staff at Matthew Flinders Anglican College in Buderim are delighted to welcome the first animal onto the College staff team: meet Cooper, the school dog!
Dogs trained for school campus environments are often called ‘miracle workers’ because of their calming and joyful effect on students and teachers when integrated into school life.
Principal Stuart Meade said the College had been keen for some time to invite a dog onto campus for its 1,300 students from Prep to Year 12.
“People who have dogs as pets will attest that they feel happier and calmer around their pets and learn a lot from caring for and being around such a loyal animal,” Stuart said.
“There is also a great deal of anecdotal and evidence-based research to suggest that dogs have a positive effect in a school environment,” he said.
“Wellbeing is an important focus at Flinders and a school dog like Cooper who enjoys a pat and makes a great reading buddy is sure to spark smiles for students and staff.”
Flinders’ College Counsellor, Dr Alec Hamilton and his family own Cooper, a Groodle, and are responsible for his training and care.
“Cooper is still a puppy so we are yet to see what his skills will be but he is a very calm puppy and loves being with people,” Dr Alec said.
“So far, students in the Primary School have been wonderfully gentle with Cooper and respectful of his training protocol as it’s a hands-off approach while he gets used to the noise and excitement that happens in the school environment,” he said.
“Once he is fully trained, Cooper may help students have fun, chat and play by sitting with them calmly while they read or being with them at lunchtime.
“One of the biggest benefits we see from having a dog at school is that they can enhance relationships, helping us all gain from the unconditional love a dog can bring.
“Students can also learn about empathy, self-regulation, and escalated and de-escalated types of body energy from being near a gentle, calm dog like Cooper.”
Perhaps the most difficult skill for Cooper to learn in a school environment is that he cannot eat human food and so he must walk away from food scraps he may find on the ground and he also has to ignore the balls being played with at lunchtime – a true test of discipline for any pup!