Waggy Tails Club by Emma Hourihan, Royal Russell School



Waggy Tails is a club for young people who have special needs and disabilities. From the day they join they have a designated buddy who works with them on a weekly basis, the buddy is usually around the same age as the member so that they can build a strong bond and trusting friendship. It is vital that the buddy comes regularly as this provides a reliable weekly destress from school life and gives the member someone they can rely on. The class is for members age 13-18, this allows members to have fun with people their own age who are interested in the same things they are (usually dogs!)


Specially trained dogs are brought by their owners to attend Waggy Tails every week, hence the name. Some of the members do not enjoy talking and socialising with people as much so they grow in confidence through bonding with the dogs. There are many different breeds of dog that come weekly, so the members have variety to get to know the personality and traits of them. There are definitely favourites with Buddy and Rosie (two of the trustees’ dogs) being known and loved by every member and buddy who comes to the club.


Waggy Tails is divided up into rooms where a range of activities take place. In each room there are always two supervising adults to make sure everything is running smoothly and everyone is comfortable with what they are doing. The members enjoy a range of activities ranging from reading to the dogs to doing a “vet check”. The “vet check” teaches the members the right way to look after dogs and how to tell if they aren’t feeling a hundred per cent healthy. Every week each member collects a couple of photos of themselves from the previous week training a dog.  These photos are stuck in their memory books so they always have a way of looking back at it. During every session there is an agility session where the members get to teach a dog new tricks going through an assault course. There is also an obedience class where the members teach a dog how to sit, spin, heel and lay down as well as any other specific tricks the dog knows.


I have been going to Waggy Tails for roughly six months now, it is really enjoyable, you learn a lot and make new friends with other members and buddies. Waggy Tails Club is based in South Croydon - it is great for the volunteering element of the Duke of Edinburgh Award and you really do get a lot out of it. It is an experience you will never forget. Waggy Tails runs every Wednesday 4.30 pm – 6 pm it is a great club to do after school to help other people.


By Emma Hourihan