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Meet Griff the Wellbeing Dog

Bring the joy and wonder of dogs, puppets and picture books together to support PSHE and wellbeing with this amazing resource inspired by a real dog and his journey.

Posted on Friday 09th September 2022

Introducing Griff the Wellbeing Dog, a new resource designed to help introduce and embed PSHE topics and prepare children for living in the wider world.

Griff the Wellbeing Dog

The resource contains 6 picture books which cover the core themes of the PSHE curriculum, a Griff puppet and 2 learning cards for each book which support discussions in the classroom. Using a puppet is an effective distancing tool when discussing sensitive issues with children and helps facilitate interactive listening. Use the puppet when reading the stories and exploring ideas and scenarios. Griff could also have a role play area where children can act out the stories and care for Griff with his own bed, water bowl, food bowl and things to help him exercise.

In this blog, Hazel Reeves, author of the resource, shares the story behind Griff, the Wellbeing Dog.

Long before the term Wellbeing has used or associated with dogs, a special Border Collie came to live in our family home. He was chosen from a rescue centre because he was a calm, male adult dog and we were trying to get to grips with living with Autism 24/7.

When Griff arrived, he quickly settled in and became a solid, quiet presence in our home. We took him to training classes and then later became involved with the PAWS project run by Dogs for Good and The National Autistic Society where we learnt how the family dog could help a family living with autism.

It soon became apparent that Griff was good for every member of the family and also visitors to our home. Griff would go on the school run every day, meet and greet children and parents at the school gate, listen to each of us, get us out joining in with the community as a family and make us all feel a whole lot better when anxieties and stresses were running high!

Later on, Griff was trained as a school dog with the charity Dogs Helping Kids. Griff was their first trained school dog to work outside of Devon. He visited local primary schools and listened to children read and took part in assemblies where children learnt how to approach a dog and greet it. Griff worked alongside children who were reluctant readers and who were experiencing emotional and behavioural challenges.

Children who found it difficult to talk to adults said that Griff was: “Cool”, “Clever”, “Gentle” and “Soft”!

Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Griff in 2019. After a few years of searching and waiting we have now adopted a Labrador puppy but that’s a whole new story …

Over many years of working with children in various settings as a Nursery Nurse and Social Worker, I have discovered the importance of using puppets and picture books to enable children to communicate without any pressure. The most reluctant of readers or children who will only sit underneath a table will pick up a puppet and share a picture book with their new “friend”. It’s great to see that this method works with all ages, especially in a 1:1 session.

Put together my love of dogs, puppets, picture books and people and here you have a complete package to use alongside the new PSHE curriculum.

Let Griff the Wellbeing Dog into your classroom and home and explore how we can all be happier and healthier.

Find out more about Griff the Wellbeing Dog Resource

Many thanks to Hazel, for writing this blog and sharing the journey of Griff.