BY BEN FORRESTER
SPECIAL TO THE TRURO DAILY NEWS
TRURO, N.S. - Murphy has everything a parent could look for in a potential babysitter. A friendly, calm demeanour, a desire to keep children safe at all times and an ability to teach them valuable life lessons.
Problem is, she won’t stop chewing her nametag.
Murphy is an eight-year-old border collie - Lab mix.
Making Friends Preschool owner Ellen Butts adopted Murphy from the Enfield Lab Rescue when she was seven weeks old.
Murphy has been helping take care of kids at the preschool, located at St. Andrew’s United Church in Truro, ever since.
“She’s grown up with them,” said Butts.
Murphy has her own strategies and routines when it comes to making sure the kids are safe and comfortable.
“She follows them like a hawk,” Butts said. “She will follow them to the bathroom and sit outside, then follow them back to the classroom to make sure they’re safe.”
Having a dog in the classroom is also a valuable teaching tool, according to Butts.
“I use Murphy to teach them how to properly approach a dog and not just grab her,” she said. “They learn to treat Murphy how they would like to be treated.”
Murphy is also able to sense when a child has a fear of dogs and treats them accordingly.
“She will avoid them and give them lots of space, and eventually they actually get comfortable with her,” said Butts.
Beth Suddard’s five-year-old son, Matt, has been attending Making Friends Preschool for two years.
“Murphy’s a great dog, she really helps the kids get more comfortable with dogs,” she said.
Suddard typically picks up Matt from preschool. However, on the rare days it’s her husband’s duty, Murphy will bark once to let everyone know someone new has arrived.
“She recognizes people she knows,” she said. “It is reassuring to know there’s another set of vocal eyes around.”
So has Murphy raised any complaints from parents?
“I have actually had one,” said Butts. “They complained because their child couldn’t take Murphy with them to elementary school.”