Glen Innes-funded assistance dog-in-training Marshall made a welcome return to town, visiting the police and ambulance stations and Glen Innes Severn Council, but made his biggest impact on local school students.
The four-month-old pup was on his best behaviour – as were the kids – when he made stops at the Glen Innes High School, St Joseph’s Primary School, West Glen Infants and Glen Innes Public School. Local fundraising coordinator Judy Fraser said all the public school students assembled for the meet-and-greet, to hear a talk by Marshall’s trainer Peter Barsoum on dog safety and on Marshall being a community dog.
Mrs Fraser was most impressed to receive a pile of thank you letters from the students, and to hear that the GIPS students will be keeping a close eye on Marshall’s progress and doing projects on the initiative.
While Marshall still has quite a few months of training ahead of him before he graduates to the ranks of the Young Diggers Dog Squad – supporting returned soldiers – he was accompanied on this trip by fellow Young Digger Deoge and his master (and returned soldier) Michael Butcher.
As Michael and Deoge will soon be moving to Glen Innes, it was a good opportunity for the duo to get their bearings as the group investigated the CBD and went in and out of shops, all to get the dogs acclimatised to busy environments.
Mrs Fraser said Marshall was even exposed to the wail of bagpipes, and barely flinched.
The schoolchildren were all informed of the protocol of interacting with working dogs (when they have their Young Diggers coat on) that they encounter in the street, in that it’s important not to distract the dog and to ask permission before petting it.
Marshall will be revisiting the schools in future to show how he’s growing and progressing. While he was donated to the initiative by a breeder, the cost of his training and upkeep is being met through Glen Innes donations.
His next visit, however, is scheduled to be on April 25 when he will proudly take his place in the ANZAC Day parade, demonstrating the role of animals not only during war but in its aftermath.