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Meet Ruby. Woodcroft College Therapy Dog.

Written by her owner/carer/trainer, Sheralyn Gilbertson

Ruby (full name – Rubidium Starrh Gilbertson)
was a Christmas present for me in 2017.

Even as a puppy, Ruby showed just how much she was drawn to people – especially children.

Ruby has undertaken a lot of obedience training, starting at 10 weeks old, and is still continuing with her training now. She is on Masters Level of obedience. She is also being trained and assessed as a service dog through MindDogs, with the hope that she will be fully qualified by approximately August of this year.

At the beginning of 2018, before school had commenced for the year, I spoke with our then Head of College, Mark Porter, about trialling Ruby at school with the students. Mark welcomed the idea and I brought Ruby in for a few trial days at the beginning of the year. Not only was she overwhelmingly popular with the students, Ruby was also very happy to be with the staff.

When our current Head of College, Shannon Warren, commenced in 2019, we met and discussed the continuation of Ruby attending school in a therapy dog role and Shannon also welcomed and appreciated the importance of Ruby’s ongoing role.

Ruby comes into our school a few times a week and meets with students out and about at break times, but she also meets with students ‘on the couch’ (pictured) and with counsellors. The improvement I see with our young people when they spend time with Ruby is truly heart-warming to say the least.

Some of the benefits of Ruby at school include:

  • Offering comfort and calm to students before exam times for Years 10 – 12 students.
  • Giving students a positive reason to come to school when they have been refusing to attend.
  • Helping students in distress/crying/upset. Welcoming new students.
  • Calming staff when under stress.
  • Providing positivity every day that she is at school.

Having a dog at school does come with risks, but with careful planning they are minimal. Ruby is vetted and medically healthy, well-groomed and is considered a low allergy risk. Ruby has a quiet temperament, is lovingly cared for and has ongoing, high level of training. She is always supervised when interacting with others.

Ruby enjoys her visits at Woodcroft College, interacting with students and staff, bringing comfort and support.

If you would more information, contact Sheralyn Gilbertson at Woodcroft College, Bains Road, Morphett Vale.