Member of the month – November 21

Name: Adam
Area: Somerset
Dog: Spot

My name is Adam Etherington, and I was originally a member of Canine Concern back in about the year 2000 when I had the most fantastic collie, Sally. As she was such a sweet and mild natured dog, I thought it selfish to keep her all to myself, so I contacted Canine Concern. I met up with Eve who assessed Sally and we then spent a couple of hours per week visiting a local nursing home.

Time passed by; Sally sadly left me, and I started a new job in a local secondary school as a senior science technician. Then along came Spot as a 12-week-old puppy, which is almost 8 years ago now.

With encouragement from the headteacher, Spot came in every Friday afternoon right from the start and helped me out with the various lunchtime clubs which I ran. When the headteacher left a couple of years ago, it became apparent that we should perhaps have had more paperwork in place than we had for having a dog in school!

I contacted Canine Concern again, and after Spot passed her assessment with a clean slate, she is now in school on three days per week.

Spot is mainly in with me in my prep room during lesson time, but with an added stairgate, she has lots of visitors at the end of every lesson and waits eagerly to greet everyone who comes by. The school has a wellbeing hub, where sick or upset students go when in time of need, so we are often called to go and help cheer people up, and Spot is great at this as she loves cuddles on the sofa! We often go down to the learning support unit to have a chat with the students and staff there too.

Every Wednesday after school there is wellbeing Wednesday, where staff turn up for tea and cake (run by external volunteers, thank you ladies!) and Spot likes to socialise with staff and vacuum up all the dropped crumbs!

I still do lunchtime clubs on Monday and Friday, with up to 20 students turning up and they love to interact with Spot as well as participate in the clubs.

Spot goes on the annual year 7 camp, joins us on the Duke of Edinburgh weekends, and does the Blackdown Challenge and the Exmoor Challenge, so we’re kept very busy.

To sum up, Spot has been used to the school environment since she was 12 weeks old, she absolutely adores the students and staff alike (preferring the students though!) and thrives with all of the attention; she really has been an asset to school life and will continue to do so for some time yet!

I love what Canine Concern does and having seen first-hand how valuable it is to have dogs in places of work, and in education, we both feel privileged to be a part of something so valuable.

Keep up the great work everyone!

Canine Concern Comments

It is lovely to think that several of our members come back with a new dog after they sadly lose their original Canine Concern dog.

It is very sad when they do go as they leave a big whole in our lives as well as anyone we visited.

Spot has been amazing in picking up on Sally’s ‘work’, and although we as a charity would not recommend a young pup in a school, Spot’s welfare was priority for Adam and the school, and it worked well for them.

Our insurance only covers after the dog is at least nine months old and has been assessed for temperament and behaviour. Schools are realising the benefits of a dog to help in many ways, even for the benefit of staff, as in this lucky school.

It is lovely to have Adam back with us and hopefully forming a team of volunteers in our birthplace. We often find word gets around and more people join when someone has such a wonderful dog helping so many.