Bale, Arthur and Gracie, the Atkinson therapy dogs

Bale and Arthur have been visiting the Atkinson School since early March and the benefits and transformations have been incredible.  Bale and Arthur are therapy dogs, brought in by Bale’s Buddies who supply therapy dogs to schools, residential homes, and children and families with special needs all over Devon.

The young people at Atkinson have formed positive relationships with Bale and Arthur, they enjoy putting them through their paces on the assault courses: jumping over barriers, chasing tennis balls and wriggling through tunnels, and that’s just our young people! Transformations have seen some of our quietest young people stroll around the field, full of confidence and smiling with their companion trotting along on the lead.

Gracie, a Portuguese water dog, joined the pack recently and she has the benefit of being non allergenic. Gracie is trained for deep pressure therapy, this means she puts her body weight on your legs or chest if seated and this has a calming effect and relieves any stress. Already Gracie is a firm favourite with some of our young people. The outstanding work that these types of dogs are doing is becoming a very popular tool for many organisations, including police custody suites, prisons and airports to mention a few.  There has been in depth research into the benefits, as evidenced in a prominent project by Dr Graham Murray from the Charity Rethink and The Centre for Mental Health called “Restoring Something Lost”.  We are looking to increase the use of the therapy dogs and expand the provision into the care side, but for now we are really enjoying the success that the dogs are having with our young people and staff.