Students at Murtoa College will have a new, furry friend next year when Rosie the wellbeing dog gets to work.
Rosie is an eight-week old groodle, who's wagging tail has already captured the hearts of the school community.
Murtoa College's wellbeing coordinator Jan Dunlop said everything had just come together at the right time.
"The idea was mentioned by a staff member a few years ago, and it ended up in the too-hard basket at the time," she said.
"Earlier this year I came across a company called Dogs Connect, who train a dog's handler to keep a wellbeing dog and how it can work well within a school. That got me interested again."
"Then a pup became available locally through Wimmera Groodles in Horsham."
"Everything just fell into place at the right time."
A competition to choose the dog's name received 36 entries, Ms Dunlop said.
Murtoa College student Ella Wheeler won the competition, and a voucher from the Scholastic Book Fair.
According to Ms Dunlop, the benefits of the dog will make a remarkable difference.
"I think it will help everybody, staff as well," she said.
"We're looking forward to being able to actually bring her into the school next year and see what happens.
"Everyone's pretty excited about having a dog that will be here pretty much every day, there to help them out if they're feeling down, stressed or anxious.
"It's proven that dogs have a positive impact on well-being.
"Evidence shows that just by being near a dog when stressed can reduce anxiety.
"When children are more relaxed and less stressed, they're going to learn more.
"Having a school dog can also help with school attendance - students look forward to seeing the dog and interacting with them."
Ms Dunlop said that Rosie's presence may also lead to increased communication and even improved literacy, as children may be more comfortable reading to a dog rather than teachers or peers.
Empathy is another area where Rosie's charm might help - students can see the impact of their actions on the dog which can help them to understand how their behaviour impacts people around them, as a result, children learn to be more empathetic and understanding, Ms Dunlop said.
"Evidence also indicates that dogs can make a significant positive impact on students on the autism spectrum, helping with cognitive, social, emotional, physical and environmental areas."
Ms Dunlop said she hopes to undertake training through Dogs Connect before Rosie starts work at the school next year and has begun the process of applying for funding to cover the cost of the training.
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