DHK Puppies in Training 2014

Vader - Certified School Dog - Lurcher
DHK Puppy in Training - North Devon

Business sponsor: North Devon Journal - view website

Tracey, Founder and Chief Executive of Dogs Helping Kids talks about her rescue puppy Vader - 'In May of 2014 my husband and I lost our precious dog Princess Laya - she meant the world to both of us and was also Dogs Helping Kids (D.H.K.) first ever Certified School Dog. Laya worked for the charity for over 10 years before her retirement in 2012, and touched the hearts of thousands of children, specialising in working with violent teenagers. We were both completely lost without her. After much discussion we decided that Laya would want us to give a home to another rescue dog in desperate need, and so began the hunt for a dog that would not only fill the very deep void in our lives, but one that had the potential to become an awesome School Dog for the charity.

Houston - or Darth 'Vader' - as he is now known, was approximately 16 weeks when I first met him at the Blue Cross Centre in Birmingham in July 2014 - he is a Saluki x Greyhound. Vader was originally from Ireland and had had a terribly sad start in life. He had been to a number of rescue centres within the Blue Cross, was very underweight and had never ever known love. After doing some temperament and trainability tests with him, I found him to have the sweetest nature, despite humans letting him down so badly. He was also a delight to clicker train and he simply seemed right.

Vader completed his 8 week Puppy Course with Puppy Gurus (www.puppygurus.co.uk) in November 2014 and completed the 6 week Advanced clicker training class in February 2015. Vader undertook a very comprehensive socialisation programme and we took him to as many different environments as possible each and every week. He has a column written about his training and socialisation in the local paper, the North Devon Journal called 'Vader's Tail' - this is so local people can follow the progress of one of our 'DHK Puppies in Training' and understand how much work goes into each School Dog that certifies with the charity.

Vader undertook the DHK Entry Test in January 2015 and passed with flying colours, followed closely by passing DHK Assessment One in March, being the youngest local dog to pass the first assessment. Between 2015 and 2017 Vader passed DHK Assessments 2 - 6 inclusive. He is one of the only dogs to gain 100% on one of his assessments, this being assessment 4 - The Trainer and Team Test for Support School Dogs.

Since taking Vader on from rescue he has been making regular weekly visits to a local behavioural school for boys and has currently worked with a number of these boys, teaching them all about dog training, understanding a dog, and how to be patient. Vader loves working with teenagers and it is definately the highlight of his week!

Type of School Dog
Vader is a Support School Dog for Teenagers and officially certified in June 2017

Owner of School Dog
Tracey Berridge

DHK Entry Test
Vader passed the DHK Entry Test in 2015.

School Dog Training Programme Assessments (6 in total)
Vader has passed DHK Training Asssessments One, Two and Three, The Trainer & Team Assessment, DHK Assessement 4, The Classroom Assessment, DHK Assessment 5, and The School Dog Assessment, Assessment 6.

Where the DHK School Dog is based
Vader works at the DHK HQ helping teenagers on a one-one basis.


Max - Certified School Dog - Cross Breed
DHK Puppy in Training - Somerset

My son and I had always wanted a dog. I had grown up as a child having had two dogs both of which were collie crosses. Unfortunately due to our life style I thought it unfair to bring a dog into our busy lives. I started hearing about PAT dogs and the work that these dogs do in schools, hospitals, homes and other public places. Being a Headteacher I became really curious about the benefits that a dog could bring to a school and its community.

On a Heads residential I started talking to other Heads who had either school dogs or visiting dogs. It was then that I came across DHK, I looked into the Facebook page and DHK website. I took the plunge and emailed Tracey, enquiring on the process and commitment it takes to endeavour on having and training a DHK dog.

Upon Tracey's reply I contacted all reputable rehoming centres explaining what I was looking for and why. Duncan from Heavens Gate in Somerset was very keen to help me in my quest to find just the right dog and it wasn't long before my son and I met Bruce. The centre believed Bruce (now renamed Max) to be an Airedale terrier cross Whippet...Tracey however thinks otherwise and we are looking forward to having his DNA tested. We fell in love with Max straight away and the next couple of weeks felt like torture until we were allowed to pick him up.

Over the next few weeks Max visited school at the weekends getting used to my office and looking around the school quietly without the children being present. Now Max is in school for half days. He has passed his initial assessments. Leading up to this we attended Big Dog Little Dog classes with Cheryl Holden. We made it clear to Cheryl what we needed Max to work towards and she tailored our training to meet DHK criteria. Max attended three sets of six classes over the next few months and when we received our entry date 25.1.15 for the DHK entry assessment we were really excited and somewhat nervous!

Thankfully Max passed and we are now a DHK puppy in training preparing for our next assessments. Every time Max goes for a walk we make sure he is showing DHK good manners! We keep a diary of Max's time in school and we are looking forward to the next phase of DHK.

Type of School Dog
Max is training to be an Attending School Dog

School Dog Training Programme Assessments (6 in total)
Max has passed all Four DHK Training Assessments, Assessment 5, The Classroom Assessment, and Assessment 6, The School Dog Assessment.

Where the DHK School Dog is based
Max is in training at Barwick and Stoford CP School, Yeovil, Somerset


Ripley - Certified School Dog - Chocolate Springador
DHK Puppy in Training - York

Ripley is our adorable chocolate springador who has been attending Archbishop Holgate's School each day since he was 12 weeks old. Archbishop's is an 11-18 Church of England Academy in York with just shy of 1200 pupils. We decided to train a School Dog after attending the one day workshop and being inspired by the potential impact that a dog could have on our pupils. Ripley has certainly had an impact on the pupils and staff here and has really become part of the family in school. Ripley accompanies me on duty each morning welcoming pupils as they enter the building. He brings a smile to the weariest of faces and really helps to put the pupils in a positive frame of mind for the start of the day.

Ripley has a lovely temperament; he is calm and loving in school and at home loves nothing more than playing in the garden or going out for a walk with another dog. He loves to play with the cat who is definitely boss in their relationship. We have taken Ripley to many different environments to get him used to different sounds and smells. He seems to take everything in his stride and win hearts wherever he goes. Having passed the DHK entry test in January we are really excited about progressing his training and taking the next step.

Type of School Dog
Ripley is training to be an Attending School Dog

School Dog Training Programme Assessments (6 in total)
Ripley has passed all Four DHK Training Assessments, Assessment 5, The Classroom Assessment, and Assessment 6, The School Dog Assessment.

Where the DHK School Dog is based
Ripley is in training at Archbishop Holgate's School, York


Gem - Certified School Dog - Fox Red Labrador
DHK Puppy in Training - Warwick

Davina Nelson talks proudly about her dog Gem - 'I teach vulnerable pupils at Lyng Hall secondary school in Coventry. Holidays are a great time to take a step back from your everyday life think “What if…? - “What if I could combine my passion for teaching children with learning and behavioural difficulties to read, with my love of dogs?” whilst on holiday in February 2012 lead to a Google search that lead me to the Dogs Helping Kids website. My family thought it was a great idea and in April 2013 I attended the one day workshop for teachers 'Preparing for and learning about school dogs'. I heard such great stories about the work that DHK were already doing and Tracey made me realise that it would be possible to train a dog to work in an inner city secondary school.
It took us several months of thought and research to choose the right dog for us and for my school. We chose a fox-red Labrador for its easy going temperament and biddable nature and reserved a puppy from a lady who wanted to continue the line of her own working dog. We picked up 'Gem' in April 2014 when she was 9 weeks old.
Since then we have taken her to as many different environments as possible to get her used to a variety of sights and sounds. She takes everything in her stride and loves both people and dogs. Whilst on a trip to introduce her to the steam train near to one of our favourite walks she wasn't fazed at all when approximately 100 Morris Dancers in full costume came off the train and proceeded to walk straight past us! We hadn't planned to do Morris Dancers in quite such a heavy handed way!
Lyng Hall is very excited about the benefits that Gem can bring to our pupils and we are looking forward to watching her grow into her role'.

Type of School Dog
Gem is training to be an Attending School Dog

Owner of School Dog
Davina Nelson

School Dog Training Programme Assessments (6 in total)
Gem has passed DHK Training Asssessments One, Two and Three, The Trainer & Team Assessment, DHK Assessement 4, The Classroom Assessment, DHK Assessment 5, and The School Dog Assessment, Assessment 6.

Where the DHK School Dog is based
Gem is in training at Exhall Grange Specialist School, Warwickshire


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