A school in Cork is the first in the country to introduce a therapy dog to help pupils who are stressed about heading back to school after months of homeschooling.
Midleton CBS Primary School has welcomed golden doodle Alfie, whose job it is to help ease anxiety, improve physical health, lower stress levels and increase a the students serotonin levels.
Sixteen-week-old Alfie started his first day of primary school on Monday where there was great excitement at his arrival.
The school adopted Alfie from My Canine Companion Autism and Therapy Service Dogs in Cork who have just started a school programme.
'Great excitement' as Cork primary school gets a school therapy dog https://t.co/l74Ix6m09T
— EchoLive.ie (@echolivecork) September 20, 2021
Alfie will work with students in the school's three autism classes but will also spend time popping into all classrooms to boost morale and go for walks with students if one of them becomes upset during the day.
School principal Niamh O’Leary said both the students and the staff members were thrilled to see their new canine companion.
"He was a big surprise for the boys. They only found out this morning when they saw him wandering around the hall. He is gorgeous. It is the start of a new journey for our school,” she said.
Therapy dogs can also help people who struggle in social settings and have been a massive support to children with autism and mental health issues.
Picture: Dan Linehan