A dog and his owner who support students with additional learning needs at Bournemouth University (BU) have received an award from Caring Canines in recognition of their work.
Shih tzu Jack works with his owner Carolyn Atherton in BU’s Additional Learning Support (ALS) team, assisting students with specific learning differences, mental health issues and medical conditions.
They have received the Peg Otway Memorial Award from voluntary group Caring Canines in recognition of the work they do and the difference they make to students they support.
They were nominated for the award by BU’s Additional Learning Support manager Chris Scholes and chosen as winners by a panel of international judges.
Carolyn, an ALS Specialist tutor, said: “We’re immensely proud to have won this award, as there was stiff competition from other caring canine teams, who are equally as deserving of recognition.
“Chris Scholes supported our nomination through a written application, which was sent to judges both here in the UK and abroad. I am reliably informed that the decision to award us the memorial trophy was totally unanimous.”
Caring Canines supports animal-assisted therapy within the Bournemouth area, and Jack and Carolyn have volunteered with group since 2012.
Jack is the first animal-assisted learning dog to work regularly within a UK university, and research is currently being carried out at BU to investigate how dog-assisted support can aid the learning process.
Jack sits in on sessions that Carolyn has with students, helping them to relax and focus and relieving stress and anxiety.
Sue Dennett, one of the Caring Canines founders, said: “Carolyn and Jack's work is truly pioneering - for BU to be able to offer their unique support to their students and change tears to smiles is proof that canine assisted therapy works.”