By Mick Jensen
Faithful dog Dusty is proving a calming influence and emotional support for students at Mount Hutt College.
Dusty is the beloved dog of part-time school counsellor Adele Coombs, who has been bringing her into school one day a week throughout the term.
Dusty is a therapy dog and has been breaking down barriers and putting smiles on faces, says Ms Coombs.
The one-year-old Cairn terrier was calm, friendly, safe with children, enjoyed human contact and company, and was comfortable in busy situations.
She was taken for walks by students and wore a smart jacket that said “Therapy Dog”.
“When I first brought Dusty into school, the faces of the students lit up straight away.
“She is a special dog and has all the right skills and the temperament to be a therapy dog.”
Dusty was always kept on the lead and picked up on human emotions.
“The other day Dusty saw a student who was upset and immediately went up and gave the student a lick on the cheek to show empathy.
“She relates to people, and like some other dogs, has so much to offer to others,” said Ms Coombs.
Dogs are used in a range of settings, including schools, retirement homes and hospitals, to provide therapy and emotional support for both young and old.
They can also assist people with reading, with social skills and can help people cope better with stress and anxiety.
Dusty will continue to provide dog therapy at Mount Hutt in 2018.