Parkes East Public School hosting therapy dog

Your first response to this sweet boy might be to give him a cuddle, but this pup is more than a pretty face.

This is Nixon.

He's the new therapy dog at Parkes East Public School and even though it's early days he's already hard at work, bringing smiles to little faces and breaking down barriers.

Principal Michael Ostler said getting Nixon, a brother to Trundle Central School's Nugget, into the school had been a bit of a lengthy process but the team had persisted even through the delays and disruptions of 2020.

"We were hoping for another way to better support our kids who have dilemmas at school," Ms Ostler said.

"Those could be anything from anxiety through to emotional control.

"We know the calming effects of having an animal and already we're seeing that.

"He was able to help me to get a student to come in to school the other day, they didn't want to come in so we went out and met at the gate."

That's just one example and it's still early days.

Two-year-old Nixon's power to lessen the intensity of a situation is amazing.

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Take a walk through the playground with Nixon and it's clear he's quickly becoming a beloved fixture at Parkes East.

"It is an ice breaker and the other thing to is, they're not judgmental," Mr Ostler says, but he makes the point that Nixon is far more than a pet.

"Nixon is a working dog," he says.

"He is designed to work and be active, and already he's having an impact.

"He knows what he has to do - he has been trained to respond to situations."

It's wonderful, though, to see the impact that the dog has on the general atmosphere.

Nixon, Mr Ostler jokes, has done wonders for his popularity: staff are keen to pop in to his office in the morning and students are very excited when he goes on morning rounds of the school.

Nixon has also just been able to spend time in classrooms, and join morning fitness - although still on a lead.

Students have been through their own learning process of how to approach and interact with Nixon, which might be a little different to how they interact with their own pets.

The relationship is still in the early stages of everyone getting used to Nixon being around, but it's clear he's a very welcome addition to the family at Parkes East.

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