Today was a good day working with a new school, with two different groups of new students. The set up was perfect- a room away from the main school building, away from the bustle of over a 1000 students rushing through the corridors at break time. Car parked right outside, access to fields and outdoor areas. The first group of students were young people who for whatever reason lacked confidence. They were shy, helpful, kind and caring. The second group were the ADHDers, and slightly older. Half the group were loud, brash, and acting a little like 7 year olds-talking over me, the staff, and each other. We had a discussion about trust, and how I needed to trust them before I bought my dog inside. They almost managed a minutes silence when I first bought Billy into the room. Then we had to split the group, so the ones who were struggling but succeeding in mostly self regulating their behaviour got to play fun stuff outside with Billy. Not sure what the other group did but I expect it involved some kind of a lecture, and I did get an apology from one on my return.
Here’s hoping we have a better second week!! The first is often difficult. ADHD can make life tough for students. But in order for it to be an enjoyable session for my dog, there needs to be an element of trying to self regulate from the young people. Usually the second session is better. Lets hope so.
On my way home I reflected , and I have to confess shed a few tears, on how much I , and the project in general missed Cassie the go-to project dog. Cassie was amazing with all young people, took everything in her stride, and would have negotiated her way round the two very different groups with grace and skill. The students lacking in confidence would have received a very clear ask for a cuddle, and a roll on the back- stroke my tummy please- and probably she would have sat on someones lap. She would have liked them all equally, gazed into their eyes, and made them laugh and feel loved. With the second group she would have remained totally unfazed by their loudness, would have energetically joined in the outside activities, begged appealingly for treats, and wandered around amongst them curious, confident, distracting and engaging.
She always seemed to know what was needed and required, her tail waving as she confidently strolled about, comfortable in whatever surroundings she found herself, and with a zest for life, and people that was incredibly infectious. She died way too young.
And she would do it all with grace, and with skill.
I always try to emulate those qualities, but suspect I am often sadly lacking.
She is very much missed, and I am pretty sure there will never be another doggy co tutor with quite so much grace and skill to add to our programmes.