A fox red labrador who joined The Wellington Academy as a therapy dog last July has come through his first year with flying colours.

Duke, who was bought for the school by Wellington College, was just 16 weeks old when he began being trained to work as a therapy dog at the Tidworth-based academy.

Named after the Duke of Wellington, Duke has been trained by the charity Dogs for Health, who work with schools, ambulance services and residential homes.

“A lot of research points to the benefit of having a dog in certain environments, including schools and residential establishments, and thanks to Wellington College’s generosity we were able to adopt Duke and put him through the training to be a therapy dog,” said senior deputy headteacher Rob Wood.

As a working dog he has learned not to become excited or jump up at people, but to sit next to them quietly and calmly and be a soothing influence. Staff at The Wellington Academy have also learned how to treat Duke as a working dog, rather than a pet.

“Duke is proving a great support for any young people who may need some comforting or companionship during the school day,” said Mr Wood.

“Having Duke around does create a family feel for all the students and staff in the school, but he also works with the special educational needs team to offer reassurance to any students who may be feeling a bit overwhelmed or upset.

“Students can have him there next to them, perhaps to read to him, or just for companionship if they are not having a good day.

“At The Wellington Academy we are very conscious that any student may need some additional support at some point in their school career, and Duke has become a significant part of our extensive range of pastoral care activities for students.”

For more information about Dogs for Health go to www.dogsforhealth.org.uk/

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