Coláiste Chríost Rí Welcomes Community Dog as part of Student Wellbeing Initiative

Trained by Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind charity – Community Dog ‘Iver’ works alongside teaching staff and educational counsellors in the school setting

Cork, 25th September, 2023 Cork post-primary boys’ school Coláiste Chríost Rí has welcomed Community Dog ‘Iver’ to the school. Iver – a Golden Retriever, having completed his two years of training with the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind charity, works daily as an extra team resource to support the student learning process within the school. He has three trained handlers, Maths teacher Jamie Burns, Seámus Hayes, Business Studies teacher/counsellor and Wellbeing teacher/counsellor Leanne O’Shea, who facilitate his timetabled assignments which include classroom activities or sessions with individual students and groups as needed.

Principal Padraig Mac An Rí says, “We are delighted to welcome Iver to Coláiste Chríost Rí and appreciate and acknowledge the great support of the Irish Guide Dogs team for their work. Iver was trained as a Community Dog because of his friendly nature and gentle disposition and he has already settled in very well, adding a supportive and calming presence as he sets out to fulfil his role through direct student engagement, in-class activity and in due course within the exam environment. The entire teaching and student body are responding wonderfully as he establishes his routine and all have received online training on how to engage with a working dog. Our transition year students will build on this by participating in an Animal Welfare class this year. The initiative is a big hit and we look forward to how Iver will continue to enrich the school experience for everyone in the coming years.” 

Iver travels from his home with Jamie Burns each day and works to a daily timetable, which includes 4-5 classroom sessions, with rest periods included. He has his own rest area, toys, exercise plan and his handlers are trained to recognise and act on any behavioural signs of stress as governed by the terms of the Community Dog Programme.

The Coláiste Chríost Rí admissions window for the 2024/25 school year is currently underway. The application deadline is Tuesday 23rd October 2023.