School Dog

Introducing our school dog ‘Milo’

On April 16th 2017, our very special Cockapoo puppy was born with his 5 brothers and sisters!

During the first few months of his life, the whole school community have enjoyed watching him develop and grow, thanks to Jean, the dog breeder for sending us film clips and regular photographs from his home in Bury St Edmonds.

On Thursday 8th June, while the country voted in the General Election, Westfield Primary organised their very own Polling Station, giving the children the opportunity to name our school puppy. Applying our British value of democracy, each child and member of staff took part in a secret ballot, where they were able to vote for the two shortlisted male names, Ollie or Milo. The following morning, the children were extremely excited to hear in assembly the outcome of the vote where there was an overwhelming majority vote for Milo, receiving 234 votes and 47 for Ollie.

The children have also received a special assembly delivered by the Blue Cross on how to care for dogs and read their behaviour.

We are now delighted to welcome Milo, our school dog to the Westfield team who joined us in September 2017. We believe he will be a valued addition to our Westfield community, working as a therapy dog, and — in time — a reading dog. Our aim is for all children to be able to spend quality time with him, if they wish. At Westfield we are always looking at innovative ways to improve our school, and after a lot of research into school dogs and speaking to other head teachers, we are delighted to be the first school in Berkhamsted to have one.

Below is some of the great feedback we have had from the children and parents of Westfield:

‘I just enjoy having him in assembly and around school.’
‘I really enjoyed stroking Milo he was so soft!’
‘Dog walking was amazing because I got to stroke Milo!’
‘I loved walking Milo and giving him a treat!’
‘I am really happy about having a school dog.’

Why did we get a school dog?

The value of pet therapy is widely accepted as a powerful aid to communication and motivation. Research has shown that companion dogs can improve the well-being of children reducing their anxiety levels by making the school environment happier and a more enjoyable place to be. Dogs are a great comfort to children who are upset in any way and in need of calm, consolation, comfort, breathing space or a distraction before being able to tell an adult what has upset them. Children can benefit educationally and emotionally; a dog can motivate and encourage their participation, increase their understanding of responsibility, develop empathy and nurturing skills and improve their behaviour and self-esteem. Children cannot fail in any way in their relationship with a dog; they do not judge or condemn and offer unconditional affection. Children will learn the principles of good pet ownership and be taught how to handle dogs safely and responsibly; they will take great enjoyment from interaction with the dog.

The Leadership Team of Westfield Primary considered the options regarding the possibility of obtaining a dog as a school pet in the Autumn term 2016. Over a period of several months following this discussion, research into a possible source of a suitable puppy led to the final decision to introduce a puppy in September 2017.

The rationale to make the decision to have a school dog was as follows:

  • For the school to have a dog that is able to live as naturally as conditions allow
  • For the dog to be properly cared for
  • To have a dog that the children could learn how to care for, interact safely around and also benefit their social and emotional development

Please see below the documents that were sent out to parents of Westfield before Milo arrived: