Our Lady of Dolours introduces therapy dog to help improve student performance and wellbeing


Our Lady of Dolours Principal Tricia Howard (left), with School Chaplain Rachel Stigter (right) and students. 

A new staff member has joined the ranks at Our Lady of Dolours School Mitchelton. 

Winnie the therapy dog will help provide social and emotional support to students at the Brisbane Catholic Education school – as well as becoming a great canine friend. 

“The benefits of therapy dogs are well documented within educational settings,” said Our Lady of Dolours School Principal Tricia Howard. 

“Therapy dogs like Winnie can help our students focus and she brings a smile to everyone she meets.  

“Her presence is a strong motivator with our student’s engagement with all school activities and she’s a wonderful addition to our existing support systems. 

“She helps provide a non-judgemental environment when she’s around, which increases self-confidence, and that itself can help encourage a love of reading and of learning in general.  

“Our students are very excited to have Winnie visit their classrooms and they are happily reading the narratives they have written with her.  

“I am confident that we will see some amazing results from our newest member of staff.”  

School Chaplain and owner of Winnie, Rachel Stigter, described Winnie as “a calm and gentle dog.” 

“People would often say that she’d make a wonderful therapy dog, and that made me think about the potential of introducing her as a support animal in our school environment,” she said. 

“Winnie was in therapy dog training for over six months before she received her certification.  

“We had regular visits to Our Lady of Dolours to familiarise her within a school environment, and to help students and staff interact with her on a positive level.  

“It was a wonderful opportunity for the students to gain confidence and become educators to help teach Winnie the expected behaviours within a school setting.” 

For more information about Our Lady of Dolours School Mitchelton and to enrol click here. 

For more information about Therapy Dogs in Education and the benefits click here. 

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