My Dog Hamish
Using dogs to lower anxiety around learning and assisting in maintaining a positive attitude to school work is a fairly new approach to education around the world. So why did I think it would work? I have experienced it myself.
Two important things happened to me when I turned 13.
I was given Hamish, teh friendliest, happiest Jack Russel in the world.
My mother took me for a check-up. The doctor found an odd looking bit of skin above my eye that he wanted to investigate. That very day we were at the specialist being told, although rare for a 13-year-old to have skin cancer, I did indeed hand skin cancer.
After the cancer was removed I think myself and my parents were still in shock for a while. It wasn’t very life threatening but it was a surprise. I found it very difficult to concentrate on school work and was worried about slipping behind. I remember many hours of study in my room, anxious, fearful of failure and dreading every school day. Through the haze of my bedroom papers and files there was always a fat Jack Russell sleeping among the books. Listening to him sleep amongst the perceived chaos of my life made me feel better about my teenage challenges.
Fast forward to year 12 and my health was no better. I ended up being hospitalised while all my school friends were sitting their final exams. I never sat my final exams. The unease and fear for my future after missing those exams made my stress levels sky rocket and slowed my recovery. I spent a great deal of time in bed sleeping to get my strength back. Through it all was Hamish. Ready to snooze when I needed to. Ready to listen when I needed to talk. Ready to snuggle when I worried and ready to do his best to remind me to be happy for the simple things.
I now hold a masters degree in Teaching but studying never came easy to me and learning was made harder due to intermittent illness. I didn’t always have my health, my school, my friends or my confidence, but through it all I had Hamish. My happy little guardian. His ability to relax, live in the moment and his happy attitude to life helped me.
I created Canine Comprehension in part thanks to Hamish and I hope our AAI dogs provide our students the same ray of hope that Hamish provided me.