Bella brings the smiles to the children of RIDBC

Anne alongside her Delta assessed therapy dog, BellaAnne alongside her Delta assessed therapy dog, Bella

“It’s been wonderful”.

That is how Anne Lazberger describes the experience of volunteering at RIDBC for the last six years alongside her Delta assessed therapy dog, Bella. Starting at RIDBC Alice Betteridge School (ABS) in February 2014, Anne and Bella still enjoy weekly visits to RIDBC. “It is an honour and a privilege to be invited and involved with RIDBC” says Anne. ABS support students who are deafblind or have vision loss, as well as a level of intellectual impairment.

When speaking about the opportunity to be involved at RIDBC Anne says it was derived from a chance conversation with her husband’s colleague which led to a meeting and tour early in 2014 with Principal of RIDBC Alice Betteridge School, Julie Kirkness. The visits started soon after.

“She [Bella] knows the routine and I know she looks forward to it”. As do the children of RIDBC who love to walk, pat, brush and feed the Golden Retriever. Anne describes Bella as “food motivated” which makes it important to have a few treats on hand. Bella, who is no stranger to treats, is often the beneficiary of the kindness of the Rockie Woofit children who make cheesy biscuits to celebrate her birthday and hide Easter biscuits in the playground for the ‘Bella Biscuit Hunt’! The Rockie Woofit Preschool is a reverse integration preschool for children learning to listen and talk.

The reward for effort is clear, as Bella has regularly brought smiles to the children at RIDBC preschools and schools over the last few years. “Sometimes the teachers will plan a lesson about dogs, incorporating Bella. It may be about being a responsible owner, safety or caring for a dog”, explains Anne.

Over time the role of Bella has expanded and in the last three years she has handed out the end of year certificates to the students of ABS, demonstrating the adoration and love they have for Bella. “Sometimes just a simple pat will bring the most enormous smile to the children’s faces” says Anne.

For Anne the opportunity to become involved with RIDBC and to see the contribution that she makes, in conjunction with Bella, is rewarding and she is clearly proud of her – “Bella is the best and most amazing dog and I am so glad I can share her with others”. Julie [Kirkness] says “We are so thankful for Anne and Bella’s commitment to our school; their visit is a highlight of the week and Bella brings absolute joy and happiness to our students”.

For others who would like to get involved she would “recommend volunteering to everyone”. “When I got involved with Bella I realised how much you can get out of it and how rewarding it is”. 

From everyone at RIDBC, thank you Anne and Bella!

For volunteer opportunities at RIDBC please click here.

Receive stories like this directly to your inbox.

Button to subscribe