PETS & VETS: Celebrating the work of animal assisted learning in Wokingham

With Michael Morrow from St Vincents Veterinary Surgery

This week, we celebrate the work of animal-assisted learning.

When Nancy and I opened St Vincents Veterinary Surgery in 2005 we had a long term vision of being part of the Wokingham community, caring for owners and their pets and growing a successful independent practice in an increasing sea of large corporate groups as well as helping people benefit from the joy of ownership and interaction with their pets.

Over the years we have worked alongside various local charities and rescues, and a few years ago we have taken on caring for the dogs working for a fantastic company called Canine Assisted Learning.

Canine Assisted Learning (CAL) provides Animal Assisted Interventions and Activities in Schools and in private settings. CAL was founded by Victoria Plumer, an animal-assisted therapist with a background in equine and dog training as well as behaviour management for young people with social, emotional and behaviour difficulties.

St Vincents Veterinary Surgery Wokingham
Michael Morrow with some dogs from the Canine Assisted Learning scheme

CAL works with a team of consultants all with a passion to improve the lives of young people with the use of their highly trained school support dogs. They also work with a team of Senior Teachers, therapists and a behaviour management specialist to ensure they are at the forefront of Animal Assisted interventions in schools across the UK.

For children who find it difficult to remain in the classroom the presence of a trained assistance dog can be incredibly reassuring. Most children naturally desire to spend time with a dog and so access far more learning than they normally would. This can also help to create a stable environment for the rest of the class.

St Vincents Veterinary Surgery in Wokingham
Canine Assisted Learning volunteers at St Vincents Veterinary Surgery in Wokingham

CAL have achieved consistent positive results in increasing literacy in reluctant and struggling readers along with improving positive behaviour and providing a therapeutic and calming working environment.

Personally, I was fortunate to grow up with the luxury of being surrounded by pets my whole childhood. And continuing into my adult life I have never been without a canine companion to make my bad days better. And they really do!

My current furry friends consist of two dogs, Paige and Scruff, and two cats, Echo and Lightening, who constantly entertain and support me and my family. But many children grow up without the experience of the unconditional love a pet can bring into their home.

For us it’s wonderful to be involved in the care of the CAL dogs as they work in such a positive way to improve the mental health, education and wellbeing of young people in need.

As it was the end of the school year we had some of the dogs, puppies and owners from CAL in for an end of year recognition of the great work they’ve done and continue to do in aiding and assisting the development of our young learners.

As you can see from the photos it was a joyful occasion for our staff, the owners and the dogs. Having lived and worked in Wokingham for 20 years both Nancy and I are delighted to be involved in supporting such a significant local community endeavour.

St Vincents

Michael and Nancy Morrow own and run St Vincents Veterinary Surgery, an independent family owned practice providing personal care for pets in and around Wokingham. To find out more about St Vincents Vets visit www.stvincentsvets.co.uk or call us on 0118 979 3200.

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