By Steph McNicol
A changing of the guard at Broadford Secondary College will see a new furry friend work with student wellbeing at the school.
After seven years at the college, Zane will work part-time hours, with new Labrador Milo, 18 months, to take on a full-time position.
Milo has completed his training in receiving pats and cuddles during school hours.
A failed guide dog, Milo has been trained with the skills to help emotionally support the students in and out of the classroom.
Wellbeing teacher Erin Peterson said Zane had a calming presence for the students, and
Milo would fulfill the same role.
“He really is a tool for teachers to use for some of the students who struggle with regulating their emotions or being in class. They can take the dog for a walk around the school and then bring him back,” Ms Peterson said.
“Even just sitting in the class and patting him has such a calming effect.”
Ms Peterson said there were lots of benefits to having a dog on school premises, for the
growth of students.
“There’s so much research to support that animals have such a calming effect on people, and just sitting there patting them or taking them for a walk is such a brain-break for the kids,” she said.
“It can be really useful as well to get students to talk about their own emotions and how
they’re feeling, because sometimes if they don’t want to talk about it from their point of view, you can ask them ‘How do you think Milo feels in this situation?’
“If they’re feeling quite stressed in the classroom or they’re struggling with the work, just having that five minutes outside, when they come back they’re in a brand new headspace.”
Teacher Ilana De Mesquita said while Zane was semi-retired, he would still be
seen around the school.
“A lot of kids who came here in year seven have had Zane here their whole high school
life, so it’s a good opportunity to give our new year sevens and eights that kind of special connection,” Ms De Mesquita said.
“Zane’s not going anywhere, but he has semi-retired so he only comes in two and a half days a week.
“I think Milo’s really brought the puppy out of Zane again.”