The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

Pastoral Care - Duffy the Comfort Dog

"Dogs are like that, I guess, they know how to fix you without ever saying a word."

Duffy Wall is an unofficial member of the Scotch College staff. That is to say, he comes to work with his owner, Reverend Justine, every Tuesday and accompanies her to classrooms, playground duty, pastoral care visits and even chapel services. He is an important part of the Junior School wellbeing team. As the six-year-old, mini Labradoodle makes his way through the reception area or across a sports' field, boys of all ages rush to greet him. They call out his name, pat him as he walks past and shuffles to sit next to him on the steps.

You don't need to explain the benefits of having a dog around to most children. A dog doesn't ask if you've done your homework or why you are sitting alone. He doesn't care that you not good at some things or not popular with some people. Duffy greets everyone equally and will sit with anyone. He's an unconditional friend and sometimes that's just what's needed.

Duffy doesn't have any formal qualifications and he hasn't been specially trained as a therapy dog. However, he has been assessed by veterinary behaviour consultant, Dr Nicole Lobry de Bruyn at Murdoch University and certified to be of suitable temperament to be in a workplace and with children. Because of his small size and woolly coat, he doesn't intimidate small children or trigger allergies. Duffy has even won over one or two boys who in the past have had negative experiences with dogs.

For his part, Duffy loves coming to Scotch. He enjoys the attention and the exercise he gets going for walks with boys and having them throw the ball for him. After a busy recess or lunchtime, he loves to sit with boys reading in the Library. The Library staff fuss over him and bring him water to drink, while boys stroke him to sleep under a table. It's hard work being a comfort dog but Duffy wouldn't have it any other way. 

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