You and Your Pet: school dogs earn passing grades

St Paul's Anglican Grammar School students Dylan Smith and Ava Stucky with Labradors Remus (left) and Kira (right). photograph hayley mills

St Paul's Anglican Grammar School students Dylan Smith and Ava Stucky with Labradors Remus (left) and Kira (right). photograph hayley mills

Lovable Labradors Remus and Kira are very much a part of the furniture at St Paul's Anglican Grammar School's junior campus.

The pair of pups were trained with Seeing Eye Dogs Australia but didn't quite make it to graduation.

"They were both released after 18 months of training, meaning they didn't actually pass," deputy head Gwen Hunter said.

"Kira gets separation anxiety and Remus gets too distracted, so they came to us."

Mrs Hunter adopted golden boy Remus two years ago and junior school head Andy McNabb took in Kira at the same time.

After researching the benefits of having animals in a school environment Mrs Hunter found the perfect career path for Remus and Kira.

"Dogs have a really calming effect on students and staff if they have anxiety concerns and things of that nature," she said.

"If we have parents come in and they're stressed or concerned about something, they will just sit and pat one of the dogs and it relieves the tension a little bit."

The dogs take on different roles within the St Paul's community and are a vital part of its daily operations.

Remus is a constant in the grade 4 and 5 area of the school and wanders between classes helping students with their work.

"He will hang out with the children during silent reading time and he'll just lie with them on the floor and they read to him," Mrs Hunter said.

"The assistant who works with him gets him to put his paw on the word she wants the children to read and they just think it's amazing."

Remus is also an accomplished artist and his work with paw painting is framed and on show around the school.

Kira spends much of her day journeying between classrooms, the school's kindergarten and even attends meetings.

"They are just so loved by everyone," Mrs Hunter said.

"We've got students who originally said they were a bit nervous about dogs but Remus and Kira have changed that.

"The kids look forward to coming to school and it's just another way of them wanting to be here."

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