Stray dog with keen interest in classroom life helps pupils learn proper animal care
Despite wandering the streets of Windvogel, in Port Elizabeth, throughout the night, Mamma never allows late nights – or the fact that she is a dog – to deter her from a single day of schooling at Republiek Primary School.
The three-year-old cross-breed, who first appeared at the school last year, is now an integral part of the Grade 2 class which she calls home, where teacher Rozuan Luiters, 29, uses her to educate her 48 pupils on proper animal care, hygiene and safety.
Luiters said that for at least two years she had placed leftover food from the school’s daily nutrition scheme outside her classroom.
The food has attracted a pack of about five stray dogs from the area on a daily basis, with most usually eating and then leaving.
However, following a daily feed last year, Mamma opted to attend classes, where she instantly formed a bond with the pupils and Luiters.
“It was instant, the children loved her from the onset,” Luiters said.
“The kids would initially give her biscuits to persuade her to come into the class. But now she is at school before most of them and she attends classes from 8am to 2pm.
“The kids help me a lot to feed, bathe and give her water. But now she assists a lot with their education in the sense that the northern areas are flooded with stray animals, and through Mamma we teach the pupils how to treat these animals.”
The Framesby resident said Mamma had already produced four litters of puppies, with the most recent litter arriving last week.
She was subsequently spayed and her puppies were handed over to animal care.
Grade 2 pupil Tafeeq Vinnis, 7, said Mamma was a welcome addition to the class and provided hours of laughter and education for his peers.
“We all love Mamma. I have a dog at home but I think I love Mamma a little more. She is always friendly to all of us and she loves to get her stomach rubbed,” Tafeeq said.
“The thing I like most is washing her, because we go outside to do it.”
Luiters said Mamma received regular baths and bimonthly medication to prevent ticks and fleas from attacking her and, in turn, the pupils.
“We have to make sure that dog is always clean and fed to avoid any problems in the classroom.
“I am hoping to foster and grow the bond between the pupils and animals and help them to understand that these are not just dogs but potentially best friends.”
Grade 2 pupil Yasmine Kiewiets, 8, said: “I am very happy to help with Mamma. Where I live, people don’t feed or look after the dogs, so I am always happy to look after Mamma. I learnt a lot from her.
“Sometimes I show my family how to wash our dog at home.”