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Kansas canines;Diary

OUR friends at the Professional Association of Teachers can always be relied upon to liven up the silly season and this year was no exception. Best of their traditional collection of barmy motions at their annual conference was a proposal to recruit dogs as classroom assistants.

Sadly, as ever, the Government has failed to pick up this great idea and run with it. But wait. It seems someone was listening - albeit on the other side of the Atlantic.

News arrives from Kansas, USA - from the Dodge City Daily Globe to be precise - of a new scheme in Wichita schools - therapy dogs.

"The new kid at Minneha Core Knowledge Magnet Elementary School (gasp) sure is popular," the paper writes amusingly. "He may look a little funny,what with that sleek black coat and powerful, perpetually wagging tail, but he's always got the time to buddy up to other youngsters and listen to their problems." Buggs, the two-year-old labrador, takes part in "pet-facilitated therapy", which, the Globe tells us, "brings people and animals together for mutual benefit."

He's apparently trained to sense when children are upset, and will put his head on their lap or even bring the child a toy and urge them to play. Bless him, he even wears a bandana to match the school uniform.

The diary says: "Arf."

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