Joyful Judy brings smiles and laughter to St Jude’s
There is a new St Jude’s Primary School community member this term, and she is bringing joy and laughter everywhere she goes.
Judy is a four-and-a-half-month-old cavoodle – the school’s educational support dog.
“When someone sees Judy, their face lights up,” Year 5 student Gabby said.
“Everyone around her is happy.”
Learning Support Teacher Kerri Kerr said students and staff had welcomed their fluffy friend to support student wellbeing.
“Research suggests dogs help children with emotional support, reduce anxiety, boost attention and increase confidence and motivation,” she said.
“Her calming nature has already made a difference. She has unconditional love for all the students and doesn’t favour anyone. We really could not have asked for a more perfect dog.”
Principal Cameron Reed said the pandemic, coming straight on the back of a devastating bushfire season, had caused a significant increase in anxiety in the school community.
“For our current Year 2 students, this is actually the longest period they have ever been to school in one stretch – the kids are exhausted,” he said.
“But when they are in Judy’s company, they just melt. She brings a real joy to anyone she interacts with – smiles, laughter, happiness and excitement. It’s not about the latest shiny thing. It is something much deeper than that.”
While Judy is a puppy, she is visiting the school once or twice a week, with handler Charlotte Caceras.
Over time, she will provide more targeted support for children who need a time out or a ‘brain break’.
“We are taking small, incremental steps,” Mr Reed explained.
“We want to make absolutely sure we are getting it right – right for Judy, right for the community and right for staff.”
Mr Reed said the school was fortunate to have full community support for the initiative.
“That is a real St Jude’s trait, right there,” he said.