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Teacher’s therapy dog offering a helping paw in Townsville schools

Townsville therapy dog

Furry friend: Marlow and Christine York have been working closely with students at Good Shepherd Catholic School.

MARLOW, a seven-year-old golden retriever, has had quite the tale to tell since she was welcomed as one of Townsville’s first school-based therapy dogs at Good Shepherd Catholic School, Rasmussen.

School guidance counsellor Christine York and school principal Glenda Scrase submitted a proposal for a therapy-dog pilot program with Townsville Catholic Education in March.

With TCE’s support, Ms York and her dog Marlow were able to complete therapy-dog training in Brisbane, and obtained accreditation through Therapy Dogs Australia.

Marlow was trained to provide support and comfort to all students at the school.

Particularly, she tends to those who may have additional difficulties engaging at school such as learning difficulties and social or emotional disorders.

“Like most schools, Good Shepherd has a fully supported learning program for our students who have difficulties engaging in school for various reasons including social emotional disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorder, intellectual and learning disabilities or who have suffered from trauma in their lives,” Ms York said.

“Marlow will be there to help these students feel more comfortable to connect with me, as their guidance counsellor and hopefully have an impact on overall student engagement, learning, and social and emotional wellbeing.”

Ms York and Marlow work at Good Shepherd on Mondays and Tuesdays each week in one-on-one counselling sessions, small-group sessions and class visits.

Ms Scrase said she was proud to be at one of the first schools in Townsville to have the therapy-dog program available to students on a regular basis.

“We are very excited to welcome Marlow to our Good Shepherd family,” she said.

“This is an amazing opportunity for our school community and the students within our school.

“Research has shown that therapy dogs can promote psychological wellbeing, and increase social skills, self-esteem and confidence.

“The therapy dog will provide emotional support to the children while they engage in learning activities.”

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