Fernie spends most of his time assisting children at Winford Church of England Primary School in Bristol and spending quality time with his owner Nik.
When he’s not assisting kids, he’s helping us to promote our extra wide fit shoes as Fernie is a TV star too! He has recently featured in our NEW Cosyfeet TV Advert, “Down the Garden Path” 2020 – watch it here.
Read on to find out more about Fernie, written by his owner, Nik.
My name is Nik Gardner and I am the owner and trainer of Fernie. I am also the Headteacher of Winford Church of England Primary School which is where Fernie attends most days. He is almost seven years old and has been a school dog with us, trained with the support of the charity Dogs Helping Kids for most of that time.
Fernie took a day out from his usual routine to take part in the new Cosyfeet advert. We are delighted that not only is he in the new advert but Cosyfeet have sponsored him as a certified educational assistance dog with the charity Dogs Helping Kids (DHK). This is his normal day to day job, rather than being a TV star!
Our relationship with charity Dogs Helping Kids started in 2013 when we wanted a dog in school as we were convinced of the power of having a dog in the school environment to improve pupils’ personal, social and emotional wellbeing. As a puppy, he entered a three year training programme with DHK along with 8 increasingly challenging assessments to prove how amazing he is with children and all of the skills and tricks that he has learned. We are very proud of our partnership with DHK who have the highest standards of canine welfare for dogs that work in the school environment.
During a normal school day, in between him chilling out in my office, Fernie helps children who sometimes find school a struggle, along with helping pupils to train dogs using only positive reward based methods. He is also very popular at lunchtime as we take him on a walk around the village with a small group of pupils. This is a lovely experience for everyone as we get lots of fresh air, exercise and a chance to have a chat! He also helps out by offering rewards of training sessions and for a small targeted group he listens to children read. For this activity, the child sits on the floor and Fernie is trained to ‘snuggle’ his chin on their lap so that they can read their book without any interference from adults! You can watch Fernie in action in a video on The Daily Mail website here.
Aside from this, our pupils have learned how to approach dogs, how to recognise simple dog body language and how to treat them in a respectful manner, which will help them as they grow up to possibly be dog owners themselves. He is loved by all children and staff, and everyone asks where he is if he has a day at home.
The presence of a superbly trained dog has made such a positive impact on the whole school, that we would not want to ever be without one! Fernie is a typical slow, lazy Labrador who loves to find his nearest settle bed and then lie on it. Even when I bring him into assemblies, he can sleep soundly through the sound of over 200 pupils singing! Also as a Labrador, he is very motivated by food so loves treats in exchange for his training sessions.
The sponsorship of Fernie will make a huge difference to charity Dogs Helping Kids. As a very small charity, every penny counts. The money will help support the running of the charity, the training and assessment costs, insurance cover and equipment for the dogs to wear, such as the coats, leads and harnesses. The charity does not train the dogs themselves, but rather they train us dog owners to build an excellent relationship with our dog and then support us to train the dogs ourselves.
We are looking forward to giving Cosyfeet updates and photographs of how Fernie is doing in school.
Look out for future Fernie updates this year on our blog, social media platforms and in our email newsletter.