School can be daunting when you’re four, especially if you struggle with reading or are a bit shy. Sometimes all you need is some encouragement from a friend, who sits with you in the school library.

In the first edition of our new series, Dogs with Jobs, meet Acorn.  He’s a well known figure around Petersfield.  Blond-haired, very large and very gentle, he works as a reading assistant at Petersfield Infants and Herne School. 

Acorn the school reading assistant
Blond-haired gentle giant Acorn the golden retriever

On a chilly January morning, Kate Fairweather is charmed by Acorn, and hears about his caring career from his owner, Judy Bridgeland. He has provided support to schoolchildren and delighted hospital patients too, in Petersfield over the last four years How did Judy know he would be a success? She explains the qualities that have allowed him to shine in this role, and what it entails.

Judy took on Acorn at seven years old as a rescue. She has worked him as a PAT therapy dog in Petersfield hospital as well as schools.

How do dogs become school reading assistants, anyway?

Pets as Therapy (PAT) is a voluntary organisation that matches volunteers and their dogs with caring settings, such as schools and care homes. If you think your dog might make a good PAT therapy dog, get in touch via its website or contact Patricia Bland, regional coordinator for the Petersfield area, for more information.

Do you work your dog?

If you would consider participating in Shine Radio’s monthly Dogs with Jobs podcast, why not get in touch with Kate at Caring dogs, service dogs, sporting dogs – the more varied the better! She’s interested in them all and would love to hear from you.