Pets, particularly dogs, are an important part of life for many families at Shiplake for a number of reasons. In particular they help with pupil and staff wellbeing. It is well established that playing with and petting dogs (pets in general) promotes relaxation, lowering blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol. Taking a dog for a walk for as little as 10 minutes takes you away from what it is that stresses you. It also, of course gets you some fresh air and exercise.
There is nothing contrived about our use of dogs around the school campus. We have over 30 on site at any one time, but none are specifically trained and we make no special claims about their efficacy. They are just part of the Shiplake community and pupils and (most) staff love them - they even have their own dog collar in Shiplake blazer colours!
Our staff often allow pupils to take their dogs for a walk. This gives them some responsibility and purpose which they may not be getting from other forms of interaction or responsibility. The dogs offer a welcome distraction from the strains and stresses of a busy day. Parents also buy into this. If nothing else, those with pets of their own like the idea that their sons and daughters would be surrounded by them when at school.
Apps and ‘technologies’ are helpful in managing mental health and wellbeing but nothing can replace talking. Getting pupils to talk is often a challenge, especially if it is about their feelings. If there is the need for a difficult conversation or if a pupil is upset there is no doubt that the presence of one of the dogs helps. Petting them helps to relax the pupil and acts as a form of diversion. A walk with a dog avoids the awkward office scenario where a pupil is expected to sit down and unload. It is well known that pupils ‘walk and talk’.
Whilst the College appreciates the positive attributes and values of pet ownership as an educational experience, it also acknowledges that there may be some members of staff, pupils and visitors to the College for whom contact with some pets can be stressful, frightening or may even pose a threat to health from bites, infections or allergies. Dogs are welcome on site but please ensure they are kept on a lead at all times and do not walk them on the playing pitches. Visitors should not bring their pets into the school buildings, particularly the dining hall, classrooms or other communal areas. Please read our Dogs and Pets Policy, available from the Policies page.
Simba Howe (Head Dog)
A warm welcome awaits from our ‘Head Dog’, Golden Retriever Simba.
Based in the College’s reception building, when not sleeping under the Headmaster’s desk, Simba can be found ensuring the floors are free of biscuit crumbs – a role he takes very seriously.
A fond favourite amongst pupils and staff, Simba is also a great assistant to our School receptionists, ensuring all visitors and guests are greeted enthusiastically and made to feel at home.
Simba joined the Shiplake team in September 2019, arriving with the Howe family and is just one of around 30 dogs that live on site.
Isla Dixon (Bursar's Financial Advisor)
Isla has become a permanent feature of the Shiplake Bursary and can regularly be seen accompanying her owner to all manner of meetings, site inspections and early morning common room coffee runs.
Isla is particularly proud of her efforts to clear the site of all lost tennis balls, racking up an impressive 32 'finds' over the recent summer break.
Other interests include diving in the river at every opportunity, flirting outrageously with Dizzy (Ernie's PA) and licking the Headmaster's face.
Bear Bayley (Ball Chaser)
Bear is a three-year-old Border Collie who comes from a sheep farm near Hungerford. He doesn’t like sheep at all but enjoys chasing bouncing balls of any shape and longingly watches Saturday Sports.
He loves the start and end of lessons as he can greet the students and check for treats and tennis balls.
Dexter Claridge (Pooch Football Captain)
Dexter is a three-year-old Belgian Malinois, despite being stuck in a kennel for most of his puppy life, he now loves nothing more than swimming in the Thames or chasing a tennis ball. He loves the long walks during activities week and getting head scratches from students.
Holly Emmett (Head's PA(W))
Holly is a two-year-old Portuguese Water Dog who takes her job as Head's PA(W) at Shiplake very seriously making sure that the Head Dog Simba has everything he needs to do his job.
Likes: munching things, Lego, any food except dog food, woofing and high quality tennis balls.
Dislikes: cats, dog food, being ignored and suitcases.
Maggie Young (Admissions Assistant)
Maggie Young is an eight year old labrador retriever and born locally with siblings, cousins and aunts living nearby.
Maggie is extremely gentle and loves nothing better than living up to her retriever name by bringing visitors a toy and fetching sticks thrown into the river.
Monty Pasmore (Admissions Assistant)
Monty is a busy and sociable Sprocker Spaniel. He loves people, birds and food and enjoys being brushed and groomed. His interests include cuddles, chasing squirrels and meeting new people and he has particular strengths in shredding paper and rounding up shoes. He loves chasing balls but is not interested in giving them back. When he was about a year old, he swallowed a dropped drawing pin which had to be removed by emergency surgery. We'd like to say he won't do it again but we're not so sure.
Nesbit Underpants Satch (DT Technician)
Nesbit is a natural redhead, saving club card points towards a classier brand of tripe and has amassed nearly 200 followers on Twitter. His favourite book is "We Need to Talk About Kibble".
Ivy Jones (Junior Rowing Pooch)
Ivy is a four-month-old Cavapoo from Wales. She joined Shiplake at Easter 2022 and is already loving being part of the family.
Ivy loves making friends with all the students, and really enjoys getting a tummy tickle from them.
Ivy enjoys being part of Shiplake life, especially when she is keeping a firm eye on the students down on the river during rowing sessions.
Making friends with the other dogs on site is also important to Ivy, she loves her regular play dates with her best pooch friend ‘Albie’.
Albie Elliott (Head Tennis Ball Collector)
Albie is a Miniature Goldendoodle and is a very distant cousin of Simba, Ernie and Ivy. He is as excitable as he is fluffy and loves meeting and greeting all pupils and staff around site.
His favourite pastime is cleaning tennis balls from gutters and bushes around site. It is almost impossible for him to arrive back home without having amassed a large collection of old grotty tennis balls, a true people's champion!
Yuki Mordue (Photography Buddy)
Yuki is a Shiba Inu, based in the Photography Department in the John Turner Building.
Yuki is always smiling and loves hanging out with his cat brother, Bertie.
Yuki loves a head scratch and a tummy tickle and loves to be Assistant Coach to Miss Mordue and cheer on all the girls for their sports matches.
Dizzy Blakeman (Ernie's PA)
Dizzy is a Hungarian Vizsla who absolutely loves life at Shiplake. He enthusiastically approaches his job of supporting Ernie with all his high demands! Dizzy is also in love with Isla the Bursary Pooch.
He can be found at the bow of a paddleboard on the river during the summer!
Bella Fairbairn (Welsh Top Dog)
Bella (Bellsie) keeps the Welsh boys in check, and will do anything for a piece of their toast!
Barnaby Batchelor (Master i/c Running Away)
Don't let his "butter wouldn't melt in his mouth" demeanor fool you. Despite his gentle nature and lovable personality this white retriever has a penchant for rebellion. His desire to play often overrides any recall ability so you better have your running shoes on if you're brave enough to have him off lead.
One of the newest members of the Shiplake dog family and the unofficial Lower School Mascot, Barnaby can be found sniffing out tennis balls, or ruining cricket practice in the nets.
A favourite amongst the students and an absolute fusspot, do say hi with a rub of the ears if passing.
Cilla Milburn (Head of Pup-lic Relations)
Cilla has lived on the Shiplake site since August 2015 and is a well known doggy face amongst pupils and staff alike.
She has appeared in various Shiplake videos over the years beside her canine buddies and her favourite hobbies are eating, sleeping and barking at the church bells.
Cilla also loves greeting visiting dogs when they are on site with their owners so you could say her job title is Head of Pup-lic Relations.
Chess Bell (LDev Assistant)
This is Chess, she’s an occasional visitor to school where she can be found either under the desk in the LDev office or supervising the pool room in Skipwith House with her buddy Nesbit.
Chess loves coming to school because she gets lots of attention from the students and enjoys a walk with the Skipwith and Welsh matrons.
She’s a really calm dog and has a great top knot which they boys like to style into a Mohican!
Monty Jiggens (Artist in Residence)
Monty is a cheeky cocker spaniel that loves nothing more than is visits to school to be fussed over by the Lower School students.
He loves playing catch, eating sausages, and the beach.
Ralph Gingell (Sports Coach)
Ralph is a French Bulldog although he often believes he is a big dog as he loves nothing more than long walks with his best friend (Dexter Claridge). He is super playful and loves to unwind with some cuddles on the sofa!
Teddy and Aldous Padrick (DT Puppy Paw Patrol)
Born June 2022, meet twins Teddy and Aldous Padrick, who are 75% Toy Poodle with a mix of lots of other breeds!
They are finding their feet and learning so much and they look forward to meeting other Shiplake friends soon - maybe one at a time!
This is Luna the cockerpoo! Interests? Not many, she's pretty lazy but likes a game of golf and the odd deer chase.
Melody and Jessy Guillaud (Burr Deputies)
Melody is a Cockapoo, she loves attention from the Burr Boys who often take her for a walk. When she is not having a walk, she is having cuddles by all in Burr.
She loves visitors and playing with her ball. She is guaranteed to make you tired if you play with her. She also enjoys chasing seagulls when she goes to Brighton.
The latest addition to the family is called Jessy, born in 2022. Whilst she is a different colour, Jessy is from the same litter as Ivy Jones.
Jessy is a Cavapoo, and she really is a mini version of Melody. She is a very quick learner, she has already mastered Dogball with Melody. It is great to watch them play together.
Jesse enjoys seeing her sister who lives over the road and playing with Melody. She also loves a Yak chew. She looks forward to getting some attention around Shiplake too.
Rayo Sotos-Holt (Language Leader)
This is Rayo Sotos-Holt (Spanish for ray...of light, of thunder....). He was born in Manchester in May 2022 and is a shorkie (shitzu-yorkie). He is very playful and friendly, although as he is teething now, we need to be careful when we play with him as his little sharp canines can scratch if not careful.
Rayo loves to play and chase things and absolutely loves a bit of tug with his toys. We are training him at present and hopefully he will be a great addition to the Shiplake canine family.
Batman and Junior Edwards (Heavyweight Boxers)
This is Batman (traditional looking and intelligent) and Junior (handsome and athletic) Edwards, the two 40kg English Bulldogs. The thing they hear most when out in public is how true it is that dogs and their owners tend to look alike, something Mr Edwards is never sure how to respond to. With these two the age old saying 'as stubborn as a mule' does not apply as you haven't properly experienced stubbornness until you have experienced it from a bulldog.
If you can handle it, this 80kg double act will give you some hilarious moments and all the love in the world and after they have finished charging around, meeting everyone, eating everything in sight and generally just being mischievous they will show you how to be snoring world champions, which is something Batman has now perfected.
Storm Lawson (Lab Technician)
Storm is a German Shepherd. Her hobbies include Mantrailing and Dog Parkour. At home she loves to chase squirrels and tennis balls in the garden and then curl up on the sofa..
Oberon and Duke Neill (TV Personalities)
Oberon is a black Labrador/Pointer cross and Duke is a yellow Labrador. Their favourite pastimes are going for long walks in the forest, swimming in every lake they come across and having lots of cuddles. The boys are no strangers to stage and screen having been in local drama productions and starred in a TV commercial aired on ITV. Oberon is very stoic and not much fazes him apart from statues of hippos and rides on miniature railways, thankfully he doesn’t come across either of those things very frequently.
Duke will always ‘help’ with whatever you are doing (particularly in the kitchen) and wants to be in on the action. He absolutely adores Oberon especially when they play ‘zoomies’ together in the garden.
Buddy Valim (Director of Dogital Strategy)
Buddy the French Bulldog was rescued through the FLOOF charity in early 2021 and joined the Shiplake team a few months later with Dr Valim's family.
He loves taking his owners for walks around the College with great gusto, but he can also be found in the Computer Studies department doing what he does best: using his good looks to get petted by everyone in his path! In his spare time, he enjoys interrupting any attempts to work from home.
Having recently perfected the ability to open a stairgate, he is turning his attention to wrapping himself in bedding like a (French) burrito.
Lily Krause (Artist in Residence)
Lily (aka The Lady Dowager) joined Shiplake in 2010 as a sprightly two year old from Many Tears Dog Rescue. She loved Shiplake from the moment she arrived and particularly the fantastic river walks.
Her skills are all food related though she does make an excellent second in command in the PSHEE (Protesting, Snacking, Howling, Eating, more Eating) department.
Indiana Jones (Raider with the Loud Bark)
Indie is a Fox Red Lab who will chase tennis balls for longer than is good for her and loves to swim, even more so if it's a race.
She is a very loving and friendly dog, who will happily be stroked for hours... once you get past the loud bark.
Louie Platt (Artist in Residence)
Louie, aka Chewy Louie, is a very cuddly and loving English Show-cocker. However don't be fooled by the fluffy tuff of curls as Louie will do anything for a tummy rub and will happily whack you with his paw for some attention. He loves nothing more than to hear the words chicken and kisses - so yes he will plant one on you.
Radish Bradley (Lead Sports Coach)
Radish is a super friendly working cocker spaniel. He always wants to play and be with people. He loves to be chasing his ball or curling up at someone's feet. Radish is also an excellent football coach and can take anyone on in a dribbling competition!
Eric Rickard (Exams Assistant)
Eric is a young husky/lab. His favourite things to do are dragging his owner along on a walk, playing with any balls he finds, and chasing literally anything that moves.
He's still growing, and although a powerhouse of a puppy he is affectionate, friendly and loyal, and very attached to his growing collection of squeaky toys.
He loves saying hi to everyone, and watching pupils from his vantage point on his stairs at home when he is not helping out in the exams office.
Havoc, Zini and Trouble Dunn (Wellbeing Trio)
Havoc is a young dog at heart. His whole world revolves around having a ball in his mouth and he has his favourites. He loves nothing better than to chase a ball and push the ball of the sofa and catch it before it drops to the floor! He likes other dogs once he has become friends and very much enjoys cuddles from both staff and pupils.
Zini is the sister of Havoc. She is the most placid of the trio (all brothers and sisters). Zini loves watching her sister Trouble and then copying what she does. Zini loves walking through any weather and on any terrain and seems to absorb all the mud and wet she can find and often needs at least three towels to dry her from a wet weather walk. Zini will enjoy walking around school site and meeting new friends and will enjoy sitting in a basket in my office.
Trouble certainly lives up to her name in every way! She is the sister of Havoc and Zini. Trouble wants to rule the world and enjoys nothing better than barking at four-wheeled traffic in any form thinking she is bigger and better than the vehicle! Her nickname is 'Gandalph' from Lord of the Rings as she is very grey around her little face but looks super cute with it. Trouble is very loving and likes to make new friends but always be the boss!
Diggle Jones (Philosopher Dog)
Diggle Jones is a cardigan corgi (named after an obscure Harry Potter character!) who has been knocking around boarding houses since being stuck with Miss Jones in 2015.
He loves scritches, chasing squirrels and disapproving of most of what his owner does. He may have little legs but he does have a big personality!