Victoria King works in the Axcis South West & Wales office. Over summer, she decided to re-home a special needs dog. In this blog, she tell us how it came about and how it’s working out.
Lexi – a very special pup!
We re-homed Lexi this summer from a rescue centre. Discussing her needs with the behaviour specialist there was much like the conversations I have with SENCOs about their students and it struck me that I can categorise Lexi with the same types of SEND with which I assist every day!
After an unsettled experience in her first home, Lexi has high levels of anxiety and needs very gentle introductions to anyone new. Much like attachment disorder, there were concerns that it would take a long time for Lexi to develop a relationship of trust with us, so my husband and I had to visit her several times before collecting her. She came to grow in confidence with us and now looks to us when she needs reassurance. If we’re calm and comfortable in the situation, she remains so too.
Like an anxious child, she is also scared of approaches by strangers so we purchased a “nervous” coat to minimise stranger contact with her. She seems to become emboldened when wearing this as she’s left alone and, although we intend to walk her without it in future, it’s been a fantastically simply and effective tool in her first few weeks with us. Being able to sensitively indicate her difference while at the same time taking her to all the places that other dogs enjoy has been wonderful.
A key part of the advice we were given – and that which rang true with my experiences with schools – was that, much like a child with SEMH, Lexi would be unlikely to play or learn unless her anxiety is soothed and her trust and confidence in those around her increased. Within a week, the time, support and patience we’ve shown her paid off and she started playing with toys that had previously been completely ignored and has even started to learn a couple of small tricks – although we’re not ready for Britain’s Got Talent just yet!
Much like a 1:1 TA, we have a dog walker who we introduced over a series of days in readiness for September (when I would be back at work for more hours). The key here was finding one with experience, compassion and empathy – and fortunately, after a recommendation from a neighbour and an interview and initial meeting with Lexi, we’ve found the perfect match!
More updates to follow and I hope they all remain as positive as her first few weeks with us!
Would you like to work with Axcis South West?
If you’d like to work for a team with fantastic staff like Victoria, why not get in touch with Axcis South West today? They work with lots of specialist and mainstream schools in the area, so are sure to be able to help you in your search for work with SEND.