The newest staff member at Nambucca Heads High promptly pawed his way into the hearts of staff and students alike.
He’s two-and-a-half feet tall, soft as a snowflake, and loves to listen and give hugs to anyone having a ‘ruff’ time.
Meet ‘Bear’ the Samoyed , an educational support pooch who has single-pawedly been increasing attendance rates and decreasing cortisol levels for the past term and a half at Nambucca Heads High School.
The local school is one of 19 around NSW to have implemented a support dog since 2013.
WARNING: watch the video, but be careful not to explode from cuteness overload.
The part-time appointment of Bear at the school was as much a boon for the students as it was for him.
Bear was necessarily rehomed from a farm down in Tasmania after his strong work ethic interfered in the farm’s running; his herding urges were causing panic attacks amongst a brood of chickens.
After the loss of her last Samoyed, teacher librarian Amanda Taylor welcomed Bear with open arms, and the rest, as they say, is history.
But don’t be fooled into thinking this pupper is a one-trick pony – he fills a number of important roles in the school.
While he’s stationed in the library (and has his own personal ‘time-out space’), he and Ms Taylor have also been attending classrooms in order to lower stress levels for students undertaking high-stress exams.
“He also goes over to classes with special needs students. Because he is an animal who just loves being hugged and patted, he’s able to lift kids’ spirits and create an environment where students feel he’s a part of their warm and welcoming community,” Ms Taylor said.
The pair have also initiated two Bear-focussed programs: Dog Tales and Bear-a-cise.
During Dog Tales, students practise reading aloud to their non-judgmental fur-friend; an exercise which improves literacy and the joy of reading, while Bear-a-cise sees students and a member of staff take Bear for a turn around the playground at lunch.
“It becomes a talking point and builds relationships between students,” Ms Taylor said.
Bear also acts as mediator when kids are at war.
By sitting Bear between the two warring parties, kids focus on patting him and more quickly realise they’re able to move on from the disagreement.
“It just makes things really comfortable to have a dog in the school,” she said.
Teachers are also finding that Bear has become the ultimate motivator; if a class is well-behaved they earn the privilege of having him in their classroom.
And the students are just as adamant about the positive impacts he’s having on their lives at school.
“He definitely reduces stress when you’ve got an exam coming up,” Jace Salter said.
“And I think more people are coming to school now, because everyone wants to see the dog,” Simran Dayman said.
“It’s something to look forward to, and he’s such a comfort, because, well...just look at him!” Shelayna Boorer said.
While internet memes might label him a cloud, floofer, doggo, or borker, all at NHHS agree Bear is certainly a “heckin’ #goodboi” – A+.