Therapy dogs Lucy & Odie and their human, social worker Jasmin Underwood, joined this year to help more kids settle in to school and regain a love of learning.
We sat down with Jasmin to ask her a few questions about what joining the MacKillop family means to her...
What made you want to join the Paw Pals team?
I love the way that dogs can do things for people that other people just can’t. Holding space for young people with my therapy dog is a very rewarding job. I jumped at the opportunity to join the Paw Pals team when they had an opening in my area.
What impact do you hope to have as part of the team?
I hope to bring some feelings of positivity to the young people I get to meet and create a feeling of safety in the presence of me and my dog.
You’ve brought one accredited therapy dog into the program and one ready to train. Can you tell us what’s special about each dog and what you think they’ll bring to our kids?
Lucy is a sweet, gentle and exceptionally intuitive 6-year-old border collie. She’s an experienced therapy dog and her favourite type of humans are young people, so it brings me joy to watch her interact with our Paw Pals students and exchange energy with them. Odie is a friendly, confident and fun loving 15-month-old border collie. He adores people and loves to play, so he will be the perfect pick-me-up for someone feeling flat and also loves to sit in your lap.
There's a saying that you should never work with animals or children. You do both! Why?
It certainly makes for a busy job! Managing the safety of my dog, myself and the young person I’m with is paramount. But the dynamic provides an opportunity to create mutual respect, honour boundaries and share a positive experience together.
What’s one thing that’s surprised / inspired you about your new colleagues (human to canine) in the Paw Pals team?
Sarah Castle is an incredible woman whose determination and creativity started our program and made it what it is today. I admire her tenacity and commitment to developing a program involving therapy dogs, knowing the impact they can have on someone who is having a difficult time.
We're excited to have Jasmin join Sarah and Susie to use their expertise and their therapy dogs to ensure every child can access the education they deserve.