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Therapy dog welcomed to Dagenham school to help pupils

PUBLISHED: 15:32 09 September 2019

Labradoodle Max is now helping young people across the school. Picture: All Saints Catholic School

Labradoodle Max is now helping young people across the school. Picture: All Saints Catholic School

All Saints Catholic School

A secondary school in Dagenham has welcomed a furry friend to help pupils' wellbeing.

Students have been keen to walk the new addition to the school since he joined in the new academic year. Picture: All Saints Catholic School.Students have been keen to walk the new addition to the school since he joined in the new academic year. Picture: All Saints Catholic School.

The labradoodle named St Maximilian Kolbe - or Max - has started at All Saints Catholic School, Terling Road.

The dog was announced at a start-of-year assembly after the pupil-run school council put forward the idea in April.

The 20-strong group of civic-minded youngsters suggested a therapy dog as a way to help the young people at the school.

After they pitched the idea to the headteacher and the board of governors, the plan was given the green light.

The dog, named after a catholic saint and martyr, is now undergoing training. Picture: All Saints Catholic School.The dog, named after a catholic saint and martyr, is now undergoing training. Picture: All Saints Catholic School.

Max, only three months old, is named after a Polish saint who took the place of a stranger headed to a Nazi death camp in the Second World War. He will now comfort pupils who need help across the school. The name was chosen by pupils from a pre-approved list.

Assistant headteacher Nick Pauro said he was impressed with the council's initiative.

"Max has been a really positive force," he said.

"With crying individuals, a few minutes with him and they were fine.

Max the therapy puppy. Picture: All Saints Catholic SchoolMax the therapy puppy. Picture: All Saints Catholic School

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"He's brought so much goodwill and it's a lovely start to the new term.

"For staff and pupils, wellbeing has just been brilliant."

The school council looked at all the issues, including allergies and people who are afraid of dogs.

Max was chosen specifically for his hypoallergenic fur and his friendly demeanour.

He's now undergoing special training to help people in the school on top of his normal dog training. Every year group is also having an assembly on how to act around Max.

"Anyone who had doubts or worries, all their fears have been allayed," Mr Pauro added.

"He's going to grow up as part of the All Saints family, forging positive relationships where possible.

"It's just non-stop smiling. The pupils love him, they all want to walk him, and they all want to play with him."

Mr Pauro also emphasised the importance of the school council general, not just when it comes to Max.

"It's so important to have pupil voice and [that they] have control over their school life.

"We are so immensely proud of all of them. They arranged it and executed it so well, it's very impressive."

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