Our School Dogs
Reading to Zuri
Rafi: Flax School Dog 2004-2018
After nearly 14.5 years as our Flax school dog, Rafi was put to sleep on 23rd October 2018. As a Labrador he has done remarkably well to reach such a great age and we were very lucky to have had some 'bonus years.'
Rafi's 'friendly big bear' nature has brought joy to many children and adults at Flax over the years. He has helped lots of children to overcome their anxiety about dogs just by being Rafi - calm, gentle and bomb-proof.
We shall miss him hugely, but know that it was time for him to leave us and cross over the rainbow bridge where he will run and play pain-free once again.
Zuri is adjusting well to life without her 'big brother' and is rather enjoying not having to share any treats!
Photo - Oct 2018
Rafi having one of his many 'old boy' naps :-)
Rafi – our school dog is joined by a new girl – Zuri.
Zuri is a chocolate Labrador puppy and was just 9 weeks old when she started school on 1st June 2015. ‘Zuri’ is a Kiswahili word for ‘beautiful’ and follows the African theme of Rafiki which means ‘friend’.
Rafi will continue to be our school dog and will be a fantastic role model for Zuri to learn from.
Since starting school she has already been in the newspapers. To read all about Zuri’s training to become a reading dog please click on this link.
(Rafiki (Swahili for ‘friend’) is more commonly known as ‘Rafi.’ He was born on 16th June 2004. He became our ‘school dog’ in September that year and accompanies Mrs Bennett into school.
A photograph of Rafi at 2 days old.
Rafi is a chocolate coloured Labrador. Labradors are, by nature, gentle and friendly creatures but Rafiki’s ancestry prepared him well to work in a school environment. He is the product of ten generations of working dogs bred to work with children and adults (his father was a stud dog for Guide Dogs for the Blind and his Mum was a Therapy dog too). The children gain a great deal of enjoyment from having ‘their’ school dog and he is an established part of life at Flax Bourton Primary.
Rafi is an assessed and registered ‘PAT-PRO working Labrador’.
Rafi can also be a huge help to children who have had bad experiences with dogs or other animals. His calm nature quickly allows children to gain trust in him and it usually does not take too long before they forget they don’t like dogs or feel brave enough to give him a stroke.
Zuri has lots of youthful energy and loves to play ball, making her a great playtime buddy.
While their main place of residence is the office area, Rafi and Zuri are available for the children to pat and play with at play times and participates in some lessons as appropriate such as exploring teeth. A group of children frequently join Mrs Bennett for a dog walk along the cycle path opposite the school entrance.
The dogs are a great comfort to children who are upset in any way and in need of calm, comfort, space or a distraction before being able to tell an adult what has upset them.