In 2021, the WaSPS community welcomed Seeing Eye Dog training puppy, Martina. Martina is a black Labrador whose parents are both Seeing Eye Dogs too. She will be part of our community until May 23rd 2022 when she will commence her formal training at the Seeing Eye Dog puppy headquarters in Kensington, preparing her for her working life improving the mobility of a person with vision impairment.
Our Art teacher, Monique, is Martina’s carer which means Martina spends most of the school day in the art room where she has a comfortable crate to relax. Martina is a very lucky puppy with many opportunities for pats and attention from our students and some senior students have taken on extra responsibilities assisting with Martina’s personal care.
Our students learn to assist Martina in her training by ignoring any undesirable behaviours Martina may show (such as barking) and respecting Martina’s personal space.
WaSPS students have been great assistant trainers, always asking before patting Martina and noticing if Martina is getting overcrowded and keeping distance to keep her comfortable. In this way, students are learning to empathise and develop emotional literacy, key principles of the Resilience Project that underpin our wellbeing program here at WaSPS.
Having Martina in our community has helped students exhibit our school values, in particular: respect, care and responsibility. They understand that Martina has a special purpose and having Martina in class means students often self-regulate their volume if she is sleeping so as not to disturb her.
Martina’s warm and calm companionship has been really important for many students as they adjust between remote and on-site schooling this year.
When Martina isn’t training at school she has a relatively normal puppy life at home in the Bassiner household with three more kids to love her and even more cuddles, walks, soft toys and training sessions with her Seeing Eye Dog Puppy Trainer, Emma.