Hi my name is Rocky and I am the school dog!
I am a golden/red labrador and when I'm not at school I live with my owner Mrs Plummer.
I hope to get to meet you all soon!
Rocky is sponsored by:
For the second year, season ‘woofings’ from Rocky for a very merry Christmas.
As we mentioned in our last update Rocky has his own timetable in school with planned in rest and comfort breaks. He aims to visit every class, weekly, and joins in with activities around the school, as appropriate. This term Rocky came to both our Prospective Parents Evening and introduced himself to all the new families who are considering SFJS for their children in September 2023. He has watched some class assemblies and he even popped in to hear the beautiful singing by the year 3 children in their Nativity Production on Tuesday afternoon! We also made another visit to Cherrydale Care home in Camberley to visit the residents, which they loved!
As Rocky moves around the school we have been so impressed with the children adhering to the 3 R’s, Rocky Rules, Rocky Breathing and Rocky Ready. This is really important to ensure that Rocky feels safe around the children and can trust them. Rocky’s class of the week was awarded to 3Z this week for always being Ready, well done 3Z!
Rocky is looking forward to seeing all the children in 2023!
So Rocky has had a busy few months since our last pupdate in June 2022. He had to navigate his way through his first summer holidays, which he struggled with as I think he was very bored. We asked parents on Facebook for some suggestions on where we could take Rocky to keep him engaged as it was clear that he needed more interaction than Mrs Plummer sitting on her sun lounger 😉. We had a visit to Sebastians Action Trust, Collingwood Nursing home and Cherrydale Residential home which Rocky loved!
Upon returning to school in September we had a visit from Jenny from The Dog Mentor to check in on how Rocky was doing within his environment after the 6 weeks holiday. Mrs Hudson, Rocky's handler and Jenny took a walk around the school with Rocky to check that all the children and the classes were 'Rocky Ready' and that Rocky was still calm and suitable for his role here in school, all the classes and Rocky passed with flying colours.
Whilst we appreciate that it seems Rocky has been in school for a very long time, he is still only 13 months old and gets very tired very quickly. Did you know: 20 minutes of mental stimulation for Rocky is equivalent to 1 hour of physical exercise. We appreciate that the children are wanting to see more and more of Rocky, and as time goes on this will be the case, however we want to ensure that nothing we do is rushed, we follow the Dog Mentor Programme and Rocky becomes the best, calm school dog that he can be.
Rocky has his own timetable in school with planned in rest and comfort breaks. He aims to visit every class at least once a week and joins in with activities around the school, as appropriate. Rocky has started working as an intervention with some children and Mrs Hudson, if your child is selected to work with Rocky Mrs Hudson will notify you. Rocky also had his first English Lesson with Mrs Hudson where he had to press the button so that the children could hear the sentence. Rocky learnt quickly that the more he pressed the button the more treats he got! He also went in with Mrs Allen's maths lessos where they were learning about inverse operations.....he's let me know who's lesson he enjoyed the most but I've not told them 😉
Mrs Hudson has recently introduced an award which is 'Rocky's Class of the Week'. The class can be awarded it for various reasons and the first award went to 4X for being Rocky Ready and following the Rocky Rules when Rocky visited their class.
Previously we invited in any parents/carers who are unsure of dogs who might like to come in and meet Rocky to help overcome any fears. If this is you, please contact Mrs Plummer to arrange a time to come in and meet him.
Can you believe that Rocky will be 10 months old on Monday! Since our last update in March he has been a busy boy!
For all our new families Rocky has his own page on the website that we ‘pupdate’ regularly with how he is progressing, should you be interested. The page follows his journey since he joined South Farnborough Junior School at 8 weeks old.
So, what has Rocky been up to?
As mentioned previously, we changed our Affiliated Dog Provider to The Dog Mentor https://www.thedogmentor.co.uk/ who came to visit us at the end of April to begin Rocky’s affiliate Dog Mentor Training, he was amazing!
Mrs Hudson, Rocky’s handler has been working hard to increase Rocky’s time spent around the school. At the beginning of the summer term Mrs Hudson held two Rocky assemblies with the children, this was to go through Rocky Rules, Rocky Breathing and how to make the classrooms Rocky Ready (the 3 R’s), Rocky made a special visit to say hello to all the children. Following these assemblies Rocky has been visiting the classes with Mrs Hudson so that the children can practise what they were taught in the assemblies.
We have had several class assemblies recently which Rocky has loved going in to the hall to watch!
Mrs Hudson is in the process of creating a short video for the children to understand the do’s and dont’s relating to Rocky as he becomes more involved with the school community. This is to ensure that both the children and Rocky feel safe and happy when interaction takes place.
Over the coming months we plan to slowly increase Rocky’s visibility around the school, this will involve continuing to visit classes to work on the 3 R’s with the children and Mrs Hudson and being out and about on the gates.
From September 2022 Rocky will start to his Dog Mentor programme intervention with selected pupils. Pupils may be selected to work with Rocky by the class teacher or the SENDCo, similar to the referral programme that is already in place for support interventions such as Nurture Groups, ELSA etc. If we feel that some time working with Rocky on the Dog Mentor Programme will benefit your child then you will receive a Consent Letter from us detailing the support they will receive along with an anticipated time period that your child will be part of the programme.
We will not be seeking consent for your child to have general interaction with Rocky as he moves around the school etc, however for our new families joining us in September, if your child has an allergy to dogs or an extreme fear then please contact Mrs Plummer in the school office so that we are aware.
We would also like to take this opportunity to offer any current or new parent/carers who are fearful or nervous of dogs, and who may want to overcome this, to come in and spend some time with Rocky, to hopefully alleviate some of your fears. If you would like to do this please contact Mrs Plummer or Mrs Byrne and we can arrange this for you in the next couple of weeks.
Again, as always thank you so much for your support in accepting Rocky as part of the SFJS Community, he really does brighten up everyone’s day!
Just a little pupdate for you all.
It’s been fairly quiet regarding Rocky for this half -term. He’s had a couple of ear infections and so has not been able to do much work with the children and his Rocky Rangers.
He is currently in school on a Monday, Tuesday and Thursday morning and spends his remaining time either at home with Max the black Labrador and Derek the sausage dog or at Doggy Day Care with his sponsor Collingwood Pet Services.
We have taken the decision to change Rocky’s affiliated dog provider and are now teaming up with The Dog Mentor who will commence his affiliation programme starting immediately after Easter. Once affiliated we will be looking at his timetable in school and how we can start to introduce Rocky to interventions with the children.
As stated previously, although Rocky is growing at a rapid rate, he is still very young at just over 7 months old and very early on in his life as a school dog. Rocky is starting to hit the ‘teenage stage’ in his dog life and can be a little tinker when being asked to ‘come’ and ‘wait’, some days he even seems to forget his name when he is called!
Thank you all again for being so accepting of Rocky, he certainly seems to bring a smile to everyone’s faces when they see him and we have every reason to believe that he is going to be very successful in his career as South Farnborough Junior School’s dog.
A few pics to make you smile ……
Can you believe Rocky is now 6 months old!!
He has been doing really well with his training and has spent a little bit of time with the Rocky Rangers as part of his training sessions.
This week some of our lower school Rocky Rangers joined in with Rocky's training session, it was very exciting!
Their job was to start teaching Rocky to 'Find It'. To do this they hid 5 small treats in various toys whilst Rocky sat with Mrs Plummer. They then placed the toy (with the hidden treats) on the floor and told Rocky to 'Find It'. The children were taught to crouch down to Rocky's level so that they weren't leaning over him. They were then shown how to praise him for 'finding it' with either words or by stroking him very gently by his lower back, never his head whilst eating.
Following the 'Find It' training, Rocky was very tired so we worked on his 'settle'. This involves Rocky being on his special blanket, kindly made and given to him by Mrs Carpenter, Luke's mummy, and waiting for him to lie down. The settle lie down will ideally be with his chin on his paws so we know he is relaxed. Then the Rangers job was to walk past him, open a cupboard nearby and then walk back towards him, ideally with no eye contact. Whilst the Rangers did this Rocky was to remain on his cover and not pay any attention to the Rangers and remain 'settled'. The children were amazing, as was Rocky and his tail wagged throughout!
We are hoping to introduce Rocky more into the classes now that he's a little older. This again is to develop Rocky's training to improve his settle, so the children will be asked to pretend that Rocky is not there and carry on as usual.
Season ‘woofings’ from Rocky!
Rocky is now almost 18 weeks old and is growing at a rapid rate, with legs everywhere! He has adapted so well into the role of school life, even the school bell ringing doesn’t wake him anymore.
Training wise, he’s still undertaking his basic training where he is learning the standard concept of sit, down etc. He is also mastering the ‘paw’ and ‘high five’ which is possibly the cutest thing ever!
The allilated programme is slightly behind due to Rocky being unwell and not being able to take part in his last session, this has been moved to January now, but he is still on track to become an affiliated learning dog within a year from starting.
To enhance his future training, we decided that it would be helpful for us to establish a small group of children who may be called upon to support in areas of his development; they will be known as the Rocky Rangers. This could be things like 'acting as a distraction whilst he is learning to stay in one place'. Or 'learning not to jump', so the children would need to approach him and if he jumps they would need turn their backs and walk away. These a just a couple of examples. The children may only be called upon now and again to support with certain areas of training and we will ensure that it won't impact on their school work. These children have been selected for this academic year.
Our Rocky Rangers are
Year 3 - Lola, Theo and Lila
Year 4 – Charlie and Megan
Year 5 – Ryan, Jake, Courtney and Riley
Year 6 – Connie and Oliver
All the training that Rocky is undertaking at the moment is reward based, with food! He loves his food!! Due to this we are unable to use the Rangers for his current training as he must never associate children with food.
In the spring term, Rocky will be working more on the 'settle' command. This will not involve any treats other than 'good boy' and lots of praise and we will require Rangers and other children to help him learn this skill.
There will be opportunities for other children to become Rocky Rangers after this academic year. Once Rocky is a little older we will be able to change to termly Rocky Rangers, similar to the Form Captain process we have in place currently.
We are delighted with the way the children, staff and parent/carers have taken to having Rocky as part of the SFJS Community. We would ask that everyone be patient with him as he is still only a puppy and has a long training programme ahead of him. The children are always very excited to see Rocky around the school but are doing very well controlling their excitement so as not to overwhelm him whilst he is still a puppy.
Rocky has now reached 13 weeks old and is growing very fast. He has now officially started his training to become the best doggy he can be.
As previously mentioned we are working to support Rocky to become an affiliated learning dog for South Farnborough Junior School.
Rocky will have 4 main adult handlers in school they will be;
We have just undertaken stage 1 of the affiliate programme, this involves the adults learning how to be the best handlers for Rocky to make sure that we can make him the best he can be and the happiest he can be. Each handler will spend time alone with Rocky to grow a sense of trust and so he can build a strong relationship with each ready for his future work alongside the children.
Stage 1 for Rocky is still just the stage where he is learning about his new environment, over the next few months he will hopefully have the opportunity to witness and be aware of every aspect of school life and learn how to behave in all situations. A little task that Rocky is learning at the moment is to have the school fire alarm and lockdown alarm played quietly to him whilst he is eating his dinner. This is in preparation should we have a ‘real emergency’ in school where one of the alarms may sound as Rocky will remain calm throughout as he will associate this sound with something nice…FOOD! And he LOVES his food :O)
Rocky has also started his puppy training with the Puppy School, this too will take place in the school environment to allow him to learn the correct manners and behaviour for becoming a school dog. He had his first session yesterday and his first task is to learn self – control, this will underpin all his future training and hopefully he will become a doggy that acts politely if he wants something rather than demand it. Part of his self – control training will teach Rocky to have a ‘take it’ mindset rather than a ‘leave it’ mindset. The difference between the two is a ‘leave it’ dog will need to be constantly managed, a ‘take it’ dog learns to manage themselves.
We will be setting up a timetable within the next few weeks to aid his training and time in school. At present Rocky has mornings in school and then every afternoon at home to rest and sleep, except for a Tuesday when he goes to play with some doggy friends at Doggy Day Care.
The children have been absolutely amazing with Rocky, they have remained calm around him and they ALWAYS ask before they touch him ….this should always be the case, so please reinforce this with your children.
Rocky would like to say that the positive and overwhelming love that has been shown for him joining the SFJS community has been huge!
Rocky has just turned 11 weeks old and has now completed his vaccinations which will enable him to be out and about more during the school day.
He promises he will get round to meeting all of the children whose parents/carers have given permission but it may take a little time as he still sleeps lots and lots during the day,
Thank you again for being so kind and accepting of Rocky, he hopes to make lots and lots of friends very soon.
Rocky is currently 9 weeks old and has started coming into school today, to get used to his surroundings. Whilst he is so young he will remain in the office areas and not have too much interaction with the children. He will be able to become accustomed to his new surroundings from the start and will ‘grow up’ as part of South Farnborough Junior School. Rocky will be introduced to the children safely and slowly over a period of months.
Rocky will be undergoing training, to ensure he is well-trained for being around children. Rocky will become an ‘Affiliated Learning Dog’.
We wish to reassure parents and carers that we have undertaken a thorough risk assessment as well as a significant amount of research into the advantages of having a school dog and believe the positive effects of such demonstrably outweigh any negatives.
Some of the many benefits of having a school dog include the following:
• Cognitive development – building a companionship with a dog helps children stimulate their memory, problem-solving and game-playing skills. Having a school dog is known to increase enthusiasm for, and enjoyment of animals, which motivates children to think and learn.
• Social skills – dogs provide a mutual topic for conversation with others, and encourage responsibility, wellbeing and focussed interaction with others.
• Emotional skills – dogs improve self-esteem, acceptance from others and are known for improving moods. Dogs can also help children develop compassion and respect for other living things and can reduce children’s anxiety. Building respect can improve children’s relationships with each other, parents and teachers and shows them how to nurture and care for another living thing. If any children are suffering from bereavement or are particularly sad, dogs can provide children with comfort and friendship.
• Physical development – interaction with dogs is known to reduce blood pressure, provide tactile stimulation, assist with pain management and give motivation for children to move and walk.
• School community – having a school dog builds the sense of a family environment and togetherness
Q. Who is the legal owner of the dog and who pays for its costs?
A. The Legal owner of the dog will be Mrs Plummer who will care for the dog out of school hours and will bear the costs associated with it. She will also be responsible for his training, with support from a professional trainer.
Q. Will the dog be a distraction?
A. Rocky will be kept in the office area which is separate from the classrooms to ensure that he only comes into contact with the children at appropriate times throughout the day. A careful timetable will be put together to ensure Rocky gets to spend time equally with all classes when he is ready to do so.
Q. Has a risk assessment been undertaken?
A. Yes, we have carefully considered having a dog in school and have sought advice from many sources, including other schools that successfully have a school dog.
Q. How will the dog be toileted to ensure hygiene for all?
A. In the interest of health and safety, Rocky will be toileted in an area of the school site where the children have no access. Thus, there will be no chance of the children coming into contact with faeces. While he is in training, any accidents that happen will be cleaned immediately and in an appropriate and hygienic way. Should this happen whilst any children are in close vicinity to the dog then they will be removed while thorough cleaning takes place.
Q. How will Rocky’s welfare be considered?
A. Once old enough, Rocky will be exercised/walked throughout the day. He will be timetabled to join children around the school at times, however he will be kept in the Office area where he will have his own quiet, safe space to sleep and relax. He will always have access to food and water.
Q. My child has allergies; how will this be managed?
A. We already manage a number of allergies at school and this will be no different for children and adults that are allergic to dogs. Individual needs will always be met and we are happy to put additional control measures in place (please specify if your child is allergic to dogs in the comment section of the permission slip below).
Q. My child is frightened of dogs; how will this be managed?
A. Interaction with Rocky will be carefully managed and supervised over several months. Children do not need to have close contact with him unless they wish to and permission for this has been given. We hope to work closely with children who are fearful of dogs to alleviate their fear and to teach them how to manage this.
A variety of anxiety problems can be addresses by the presence of a dog as it creates a calming influence helping to decrease blood pressure and stress responses. Children also become less self-conscious of themselves as their attention is focused on the dog instead.
Attachment & Relationship building
The ability to form and sustain relationships are natural for most children, but some find it difficult to acquire these skills for various reasons and need some help to acquire them. Working alongside a dog children are able to grow in confidence because they bond with someone who is calm, affectionate and more importantly non-judgemental and non-critical. Children experience a positive impact both physically and mentally.
Communication & Social anxieties
Children with social communication disorder have difficulty using language in social situations. Studies have shown play with a dog encourages children to communicate verbally by telling stories and comfortably being able to share any worries. It always encourages non-verbal communication through use of hand signals, body posture, petting and grooming.
Formulating a rapport and relationship with a dog provides children with a sense of having a protector. With their protector by their side children feel empowered to work towards overcoming their fears. The companionship provides a platform for children to develop self-confidence and resilience.
Stress Coping Strategies
Some children find it difficult to handle stress levels in a healthy way. Play naturally releases stress, combine this with interacting with a dog and you provide a child with a relaxion experience unprecedented to any other. Through cuddling, petting, grooming and playing with the dog, children can focus on the present moment and set aside their worries and fears.
Attention and Behavioural difficulties
Attention issues and disorders are most commonly associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but they can also be caused by other things, including anxiety, depression, learning disorders, sensory problems and trauma. Studies have shown the presence of a trained therapy dog has helped:
Increase children’s attention and concentration performance
Provide an outlet for excess energy
Provide a non-judgemental companion
Provide social interaction opportunities
Offer a healthy distraction