<p>Buddy the School Therapy Dog’s official staff pass at Castle Newnham school</p>

Buddy the School Therapy Dog’s official staff pass at Castle Newnham school

Buddy the Labrador joins school staff to help students with Covid anxiety

The yellow Labrador helps provide a ‘calming influence’ on stressed out children, says owner and vice principal

Kate Ng,Saman Javed
Wednesday 07 July 2021 11:22
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A dog named Buddy has been made an official member of staff at a school in Bedford to help students with anxiety related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The yellow Labrador now works three days a week at Castle Newnham School with pupils aged nine to 16 as a “calming influence”.

Buddy’s owner, Nik Maund, who is vice principle of Castle Newnham School, told The Independent that his dog provides a “reassuring presence” that has “helped reduce anxieties” in children.

Maund first brought Buddy to the school for a take-your-dog-to-work day, but he soon saw the positive impact Buddy’s presence had on the students.

It came after Maund, who is in charge of pastoral care at the school, said they were seeing more anxious children because of the pandemic.

Buddy’s duties include going on walks with pupils, listening to them read and spending time with them when they feel stressed. Maund said the school has noticed a visible difference in children when they spend time with Buddy.

Buddy the Therapy Dog sits on a blanket in the sun with students

“We’ve had better engagement with adults as a consequence, particularly from some of our more vulnerable children who struggled to communicate effectively,” he said.

“We’ve had children more willing to read, and we’ve seen a reduction in anxiety in children when they are spending time with him.”

Following an official assessment and after receiving approval from head teacher Ruth Wilkes, Buddy was allowed to return to the school again.

His official title is School Therapy Dog and he has his own Twitter account with 76 followers. Buddy’s description reads: “Just a Labrador working to help humans… particularly the small type.”

Therapy dogs are becoming increasingly common in schools and universities as a way of providing comfort and support, as research shows they can reduce stress and anxiety and promote calmness.

As for Buddy, Maund said he “loves all of the attention”.

“He certainly seems to enjoy it, and I love knowing that my dog is having a positive an impact on others and helping them feel more comfortable and happier in school,” he said.

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