There was a lot of excitement in Monday’s school assembly as Wellington Eagles Primary introduced their newest addition, a 12-week-old Cocker Spaniel royally named Lillibet who will be joining the school as their therapy dog.
The dream of introducing a therapy dog to the primaries has been inspired by the incredible work at another trust school, The Wellington Academy, who have a school therapy dog, Duke, as part of their team. With much research showing how therapy dogs benefit learning by supporting children and helping regulate emotions, Duke has supported many pupils and is a significant part of their school life.
With regards to training Lilibet as a therapy dog Sarah Johnson-Motyl, headteacher at Eagles explains, “We will be working closely with Amy Wood who is the founder of the ‘Dogs for Health’ charity and works with many schools in the area including The Wellington Academy.” Asked about how the school plans to introduce Lillibet to more nervous pupils Sarah explained, “Amy will be helping us when introducing Lillibet to pupils, especially for children who may be nervous or need support around animals.”
Sarah also explained why they have chosen the name Lillibet, “She is named after our late Queen Elizabeth, and we feel the name Lillibet will remind us of how she was a fantastic role model and represented all of our school values.” She added, “We also wanted to get the children involved in the naming process so they have chosen the middle name of Rose.”
In keeping with the royal theme, Lillibet Rose will also have her own red case which will be sent to children so they can share their work and reading books by putting them in the case and have special time with Lillibet if they want a place to talk.
Sarah added, “We will be writing a poem about her and why she is named after the queen to share with King Charles & The Queen Consort and, of course, the children have said they would like them to visit us and Lillibet, so we will work together to make this dream come true. After all, we never had a grand opening due to covid so I believe a letter is being drafted to Buckingham Palace so watch this space!..”
Lillibet will primarily support SEN, vulnerable and service children but will also visit classrooms and welcome pupils at the beginning of the school day.
When not on duty Lillibet will live with Head teacher Sarah and her family of five boys so is sure to get plenty of love and attention.
Dogs for Health is a non-profit organisation founded in 2020. They offer animal assisted therapy, animal assisted interventions and animal assisted education. To find out more about the charity visit https://www.dogsforhealth.org.uk/
Wellington Eagles is part of Ascend Learning Trust, visit https://ascendlearningtrust.org.uk/ to find out more about the trust.
For more information about Wellington Eagles Primary go to https://wellingtoneagles.org.uk/