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Tyndale Murray Bridge’s new therapy dog Lemmie is no lemon
Tyndale Christian School’s newest staff member, Lemmie the therapy dog, is winning the hearts of staff, students and parents alike.
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Lemmie, a super-social two-year-old Labrador, is now in her third week of employment as a therapy dog at Tyndale’s Murray Bridge campus.
Tyndale principal Tom Cowell explained that Lemmie was one example of his school’s focus on students’ wellbeing.
“We talk a lot here about each student being valuable and precious, so we invest a lot of money into wellbeing strategies,” he said.
“Lemmie is another investment in the wellbeing of our students.
“We have a counsellor, registered nurse and social worker – and Lemmie is another member of the wellbeing team.
“Lemmie is about building engagement – for students with learning needs and anxiety and for all students.
“Her role is to break down barriers, encourage connection and build community.”
After initial discussions between Tyndale and See Differently – formerly the Royal Society for the Blind – See Differently considered Lemmie’s highly social nature to be perfect for Tyndale.
Lemmie’s handler and school nurse Sarah-Jayne Burgemeister said that the dog’s original name was Lemon, “but that name didn’t work”.
She said that the school was growing Lemmie’s potential, as well as that of its students.
“She was trained to be a wellbeing dog, and while she couldn’t be a guide dog, to do this is making the most of her potential because she is social, which is why the RSB is excited about her potential here,” she said.
“She has such a joy being around people, and that’s been contagious – she’s a social butterfly, which has been great.”
Mr Cowell also said that Lemmie was useful for teaching students about how to approach a therapy dog.
One thing that has proven effective to teach students about when to give Lemmie the pats she loves is Lemmie’s blue bandana, which shows that she is working and can be approached.
“The RSB found that having a uniform means a dog’s working, so we have a bandana for Lemmie – I tell the kids this is her special uniform,” Ms Burgemeister said.
“The students know not to approach her if she’s not wearing her uniform.
“The bandana protects her because she’s a living being, but the kids have really connected with it and understand that it’s like her school uniform.”
Mr Cowell said that Lemmie was part of Tyndale giving students an holistic education.
“We’ve got some really impressive ATARs, but education’s so much more than that – it’s about preparing people for life after school,” he said.
“Lemmie’s a great example of one thing you can do as a school.”