New paws in the hallways

Teth, Hannah, Brody, Anirudh, Sienna, Myra, and Sienna with Buddy. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS 397274_01

Casey Grammar welcomes one particularly special new staff member for students to meet this semester, the furry Buddy.

He is a young Labradoodle whose favourite foods are carrots, strawberries, and cheese and who loves playing fetch and running around in the rain with his big brother.

His favourite toys are a dinosaur and a shark and he’ll happily spend plenty of time going for walks and watching cars go by.

Buddy is joining the school as part of the whole school wellbeing program and has been trained as a wellbeing dog through the Dogs Connect program.

He will initially attend school one or two days a week and, like the students and teachers, Buddy will have his own timetable and will spend time in the Junior and Senior classrooms.

As he grows more confident and familiar with his surroundings, Buddy will also carry out yard duty.

A team of staff is in charge of introducing the Dogs Connect program to Casey Grammar and Buddy’s primary carer is teacher Rebecca Birch, who has been training Buddy so he is ready to make his class debut in 2024.

“Junior and Senior School students have been told about Buddy and they are very excited,” Casey Grammar principal Fiona Williams said.

“Dogs in schools have been proven to provide emotional support, to assist students and staff with building connections, and they help decrease anxiety and stress. There is also often a decrease in absenteeism when there is a dog in school.”

Approximately 40 schools across Victoria are accredited with Dogs Connect and have their own ‘Buddy’ in school.

Students will be given lessons on how to respectfully interact with Buddy, and only students who want to connect with the Labradoodle will do so.

“We’re pretty sure he’s going to quickly become one of the most popular new staff members of 2024!” Mrs William said.