Man's best friend is good therapy
MOLLY Springer, Springfield Central State High School's therapy dog has been embraced by the community with open arms.
Petbarn Springfield and Greencross Vets are providing food and vet care for the special pooch.
Springfield Central State High School's Head Of Special Education Services Karen McLaren is so happy to have the support.
"We truly appreciate all the assistance the team are providing Molly," Ms McLaren said.
"She is helping enrich the lives of our students each day and inspiring other schools to consider an assistance dog for their own schools."
Melissa Mckenzie, Store Manager at Petbarn Springfield says Molly is a superstar.
"We are just so pleased to be able to assist in any way in a program that will touch so many lives and have a really positive impact within the school community."
Ms McLaren said staff were excited about having a therapy dog before she started at the school.
And she has had a positive influence on students and teachers.
"Since setting her paws down in the campus, she has been warmly and enthusiastically welcomed by everyone," Ms McLaren said.
"One of our teachers confided in me recently that although he initially thought that it wasn't a particularly great idea having a dog in the classroom, he has since seen the calm and value himself of having Molly come into his classroom.
"His students were almost instantly more focused and tuned in to the lesson, with Molly's presence helping to redirect students to their intended tasks simply by her presence among them.
"The reason for this is that there are some quite stringent expectations in place for students to follow when Molly is present in their classrooms. These help to keep Molly calm and the students centred and focused on their teacher or their learning tasks.
"Molly has also shown a natural intuition when encountering individuals who are in distress, be they students or teachers.
"Her ability to calm students who are in a heightened emotional state has been quite amazing to watch."
"Molly has been welcomed so much by staff that when one of the staff rooms was recently re-designed into a more open plan working space, one of the requests was for Molly to have a space of her own so that she could visit more often.
"She now has her own bed, water bowl and toys in this staffroom which has prompted another of our staff rooms to also have a bed, bowl and toys for her there as well.
"Of four staff rooms, Molly has her own place in three of them. That speaks volumes to how she has fitted in with staff.
"In addition, her classroom bookings have been so numerous that she is now booked three weeks in advance in order to accommodate as many requests as possible.
"Given that she only works five days per fortnight, she is very much in demand.
"During her lunch time strolls around the school, she is hard pressed to get very far without having to stop for pats from the numerous students, and staff, who have come to enjoy having her around. It's not uncommon for Molly to be greeted with big smiles and great excitement by anyone she comes across, seemingly without anyone noticing that there is actually a person attached to her lead as well. None of us mind though. It's just great to know that she is so valued by so many.
"Last year, we were very fortunate to have Petbarn come on board with us as Molly's major sponsor.
"They provide her with the highest quality dry pet food available to her and keep her looking clean and shiny with hydro baths whenever she needs one.
"At Christmas time, Molly even received a wonderful Christmas bundle of toys and treats from her Petbarn sponsors that she really enjoyed opening, eating and playing with.
"In addition, Green Cross vets agreed to sponsor Molly with their in house pet insurance.
"This means that whenever we have any concerns about her physical health we are able to have her seen by their wonderful staff, get their advice and support and give Molly the best chance of staying well and healthy for as long as possible without having to worry about the costs involved with consultations.
"These sponsorships are really important to us as a public high school as we have quite a limited budget to work with.
"The money saved through Molly's sponsorships allows us to purchase stimulating toys to keep her mind active, other grooming tools and products to help keep her skin and coat healthy and nails trimmed and provide her with clean and comfortable bedding.
"Without the wonderful sponsorship of Petbarn and Green Cross Vets, our ability to sustain Molly's current levels of good health may be seriously compromised, ultimately leading to a shortened life span here at school with us. This, I believe, would have a detrimental impact on the emotional well-being of both our students and our staff."