AN ALLOA woman paid a visit to Park Primary to speak to children about the role of assistance dogs.

Alison Skillin was accompanied by Bear and together they highlighted how a canine in service can help with daily life.

She outlined the key differences between pets and assistance dogs, before taking questions from the pupils.

She also demonstrated how British timber dog Bear, who she trained, aids her in physical activities.

Alison said: “I spoke mostly about how to recognize an assistance dog vs a pet dog.

“I brought in some gear I have seen used for both assistance dogs and pet dogs. 

“I passed these around and asked whose pet dog wore one?  Then I asked the key question: where could you find an assistance dog? 

“The teachers helped with this because they were boggled, but stores, restaurants, cinemas and such started to come out.”

Alison then delivered a quick overview of what tasks the dogs did, showed how Bear knows his directions and asked him to open and close the door, to the delight of clapping youngsters.

She added: “I then sat down and dug out some items for Bear to bring me, like a can, a piece of paper, a plastic wrapper, my cell phone.

“The final bit was when I asked him to take my shoes off, leg splint and socks. He got applause for that too.

“I made sure and kept drilling the point that these were not tricks, but real tasks.”

Alison has made numerous visits to Park over the years, this being her sixth.

Mhairi Scullion, principal teacher, said: “Our whole school is working to strengthen the links we have been building throughout the community and this was a fantastic opportunity for our younger pupils who have limited experience with assistance dogs and their purpose.

“The primary 2 classes were both keen to have a visit. Alison spoke to the class about the purpose of the assistance dog, what he does for her and the ‘perks’ (e.g. he can go into shops and cinemas etc).”

She added: “We were happy to support Alison’s visit as it helps us to strengthen our links with the community and celebrate the diversity which we have with in Park Primary and its community.

“It also allows the pupils to understand the different challenges that people face and how these challenges can be supported.”

Alison also works and campaigns to raise awareness in the community of owner-trained assistance dogs.

Earlier this year, she attended a meeting of an assistance dogs round table in London to discuss legislation and equality issues surrounding owner-trained canines.

Anyone who would like to arrange a talk with Alison can email her on