“All of the talks are fantastic in their own way and it’s extremely rewarding to be able to help like this,” said Julia following the assembly.
“Recently, I went to a nursery and the children were so tiny but loved Billy. They were amazed and they actually went on to raise money for Blue Cross.”
Often, though, the talks can have a far deeper impact and can completely change youngsters’ perspective on dogs.
“I find it quite interesting how different children can have a different take on animals,” said Julia. “For those that don’t like pets, I like trying to change their mind and make them see that animals are a good part of society and are friendly. Some children are absolutely terrified in some of the schools I go to. That’s why Billy is so good in that particular case scenario.”
But in at least one case, Julia and Billy’s talk has completely transformed a child’s life.
Julia explained: “There’s an autistic child at one of the schools that I go to and they always let him come out of the class at the end to see Billy. As soon as he sees Billy he’s really calm, he absolutely loves him.
“And actually, he really wanted a dog but his parents were reluctant to get one as they were concerned that the child might be a little rough. But they were persuaded to get a puppy after seeing what he was like with Billy.
“It’s made a huge difference to his life; the teaching assistant there said that he is a lot calmer than he was and he interacts a lot better with her so I was really pleased.
“At that school I was even asked if Billy could become the ‘school dog’ and go in every day, as he has such a calming, positive influence on children.”
Teachers have told us how having Julia and Billy in their school really has made such a difference, children have learnt an awful lot and they have been amazed at how some children have been so inspired. A young boy who met Billy recently told his teacher he now wanted to be a dog trainer!” Blue Cross Education Officer, Paul Hodson
Blue Cross Education Officer Paul Hodson said: “Julia has been a wonderful volunteer for Blue Cross for many years and has met with thousands of children helping them to understand the importance of looking after their pets and staying safe.
"From when Billy Boo first arrived as a puppy three years ago Julia had always wanted to take him into school to support her visits and in October last year that dream became a reality.
“Julia has put such a lot of hard work into training Billy and often has to get up very early in the morning to make sure he is looking his best before meeting the children but what an impact he makes!
Teachers have told us how having Julia and Billy in their school really has made such a difference, children have learnt an awful lot and they have been amazed at how some children have been so inspired. A young boy who met Billy recently told his teacher he now wanted to be a dog trainer!”