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Therapy Dog - Star

After extensive research, discussion with other schools, and approval from the Governors, Orchard Manor School now has its very own Therapy Dog: “Star”, a Portuguese Water Dog. 

Portuguese Water dogs are by their nature, very easy to train, super smart and very eager to please.  Their coat is hypoallergenic and does not moult.  They were originally bred to help fishermen in Portugal, and Star loves to swim – she even has webbed feet!

Bales Buddies Therapy Dogs, is a charitable organisation which specialises in Therapy Dog training.  They will be co-ordinating Star’s training on and off site with Lisa Morley, who looks after Star outside of school hours.   In addition, Bales Buddies are happy to come into school and give all the children and staff guidance and instruction on how to ‘Be Dog Smart’. 

For those students who are fearful of dogs, we hope that, with parental support, and over a period of time, they can be encouraged to approach and handle Star which will help them gain confidence in managing their fear and anxieties.

Star Is fully insured and covered under Devon County Council Public liability policy and she regularly goes to the vet for all the necessary vaccinations, flea and worm treatments. A full risk assessment has also been completed which will be available on our website.

Star’s job in the school will be to support children in all areas of education.  She will attend Forest School, sit with our students whilst they are reading, be a soothing influence in nurture groups and exams, and in any other transitions that students may find difficult.  She may even help with student attendance. 

Star will be based in a specialised ‘Dog Room’ in Post 16 which is separate from the classrooms, and the students will only be able to interact with her under staff supervision. She will initially be in school every day.  When she is moving around the school she will be on a lead and will always be with an adult.

Training began as soon as Star arrived.  She has been trained to respond to verbal commands as well as hand commands which enables our non-verbal students to interact with her too.