Therapy dog Arlo takes up new post at Wigan school

Therapy dog Arlo with pupils at St John Fisher RC High School
Therapy dog Arlo with pupils at St John Fisher RC High School

Pupils at a Wigan secondary school are able to paws for thought when they have a problem thanks to the arrival of an adorable therapy dog.

Cute cockapoo Arlo took up his new post at St John Fisher RC High School in Beech Hill at the start of term.

The 18-month-old canine, who belongs to science teacher Alice Kirkpatrick, helps the more vulnerable pupils at the Baytree Road high school while also boosting children’s wellbeing with lots of strokes and petting.

Arlo has been trained as a therapy dog since he was a tiny puppy and the bundle of lovable apricot curly fur has made a massive difference at St John Fisher. Alice said: “He has been a school therapy dog since the age of nine weeks.

“I picked him up in May 2018 and his first ‘job’ was at Our Lady’s Catholic High School in Preston.

“He has attended obedience classes, the Kennel Club Puppy Foundation and is a registered Pets as Therapy dog.

“His role in school is to support all our pupils and staff during challenging times, but also in their daily lives.

“A quick stroke or a cuddle with Arlo often cheers people up or sets them up for the day with a smile on their face!”

Although there is some work involved mostly it is a dog’s life for Arlo as he spends his time in the school’s pastoral hub being cared for and enjoying some quality resting time in his basket in between cheering up pupils who are feeling down.

While working dogs definitely have the aww factor there is also good scientific research showing the effect that therapy animals can have.

Four-legged friends in schools and workplaces can improve physiological health, reduce blood pressure and boost mental health.

Dogs are able to calm children down and encourage them to respect animals and other people, while their loyalty, summed up in the phrase ‘man’s best friend’ means they provide empathetic and non-judgemental support for pupils.

Arlo has even taken to social media, with a Twitter account dedicated to what he gets up to in school every day, with more than 250 people already following his posts.

The arrival of the therapy dog has proved a hit with both pupils and staff.

Year seven pupil Aoife Grass said: “When everyone sees Arlo they just want to play with him and rush over to see him. It’s great to have him here.”

Pupil support manager Lisa Heyes said: “He is an asset to the hub. He works with our more vulnerable students and he has had a positive impact already.”

To find out more follow him on Twitter @Arlo_TherapyDog