Puppy joins Harrogate school

Vito at Starbeck Community Primary School with, from left, pupils Jack Castle, Louie Reid, Samuel Mullier, Tyler Richardson, Nathan Sheppard, Hannah Beck, Emily Hay and Evie Hannan. Picture: Marcus Corazzi (130911M1d)
Vito at Starbeck Community Primary School with, from left, pupils Jack Castle, Louie Reid, Samuel Mullier, Tyler Richardson, Nathan Sheppard, Hannah Beck, Emily Hay and Evie Hannan. Picture: Marcus Corazzi (130911M1d)
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Starbeck Community Primary is believed to be the only school in the district with a resident dog.

16-week-old Norwich terrier Vito lives with headteacher Carolyn Sandford, and comes into school every day, helping with rounds and acting as an incentive for good behaviour.

Despite the new term beginning just last week, Vito has already starred at assembly and brought the playground to a standstill.

Mrs Sandford said: “In the morning, Vito and I do the rounds and see everybody in the school.

“He has visited every class, and been to a full school assembly.

“The children just adore him.”

Year five pupil Anna Leach said: “We must get into the habit of putting rubbish into the bin because if we put it on the floor, Vito will try to eat it!”

Tyler Richardson, a year six pupil, hopes to walk Vito soon.

He said: “He is a furball!

“We might get to walk him.

“I have said I want a dog just like him at home now.”

Mrs Sandford hopes Vito can prove useful in improving the behaviour of pupils.

She said: “Sometimes children can get cross or upset.

“When that happens, they don’t always want to talk to a teacher, but they are quite happy to speak to dogs.

“Vito can help with any behavioural issues.”

The school wrote to each parent to explain Vito’s arrival, and Mrs Sandford says he has been received positively by parents as well as their children.

She said: “So many parents have asked me if they can meet him.

“They think it is wonderful that the children have a chance to be with a dog.”

Chosen for his temperament and coat which sheds sparingly, Vito is already proving his worth to those pupils who were not too sure to begin with.

The headteacher said: “Some students are scared of dogs, and if they don’t want to talk to him or touch him, of course they don’t have to.

“One boy who is scared of dogs came up to pet him in the playground last week, though.”

Vito’s next challenge is to get into the spirit of the Tour de France, which will ride through Starbeck in July.

His owner said: “At the moment, he comes to school with me in the car, because I don’t want to do too much, too fast.

“But he fits perfectly into my bicycle’s basket, so soon he’ll cycle in.”

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