As the school bell goes off at 3.30pm, the students rush out of their classrooms. Some hurriedly make their way to the school bus parked inside the compound while some others run out of the main gate.
So does 2-year-old Bianca.
No, Bianca is not one of the 1700 students dressed in the blue and green school uniform at Parikrma Centre for Learning at Jayanagar in Bengaluru. Bianca, the stray dog is responsible for spreading happiness in the school and teaches students many a lesson.
On a typical day, Bianca walks into any of the classrooms, no matter what the subject is being taught. She walks across the class, decides on a convenient spot, and quietly settles down.
A group of students found Bianca abandoned on the streets in 2015 and brought her to the school. She was only two months old at the time. Shukla Bose, the founder of the school for underprivileged students could not refuse the studentâ€™s appeals to keep the dog at the school.
A few months after she was administered with the necessary vaccinations, she was brought to the school. Since then she has gained a name, a home and a thousand companions.
Bianca as a teaching tool
For Shukla Bose who started the school in 2003, having a dog at the school was a welcome idea. Since its inception, the foundation runs five schools across Bengaluru.
It was in 2014 that Titania walked into the school compound in Kormangala. She has been a part of the school ever since.
A few months later in 2015, they adopted Portia who was 45-days-old at the time from a shelter home, and then Romeo and Juliet found their way to the school. Isabella is the youngest of all, who was brought to the school earlier this year.
Though the initial idea of having a dog at the school was to inculcate in the students a sense of co-existing, Bianca has taught the children many more lessons of loyalty, compassion and responsibility.
Shukla soon realized that they can be used as an effective learning method.
â€śLearning neednâ€™t happen within four walls, in front of a black board. There are a lot of things a teacher may not be able to teach the children, but Bianca could. We don't want more doctors and engineers, do we? What we need is compassionate human beings, vets and environmentalists,â€ť Shukla says.
And anyone who has read Shakespeare would have recognised the familiar names.
The names of the dogs were decided by the students themselves, as part of a reading exercise. The students were asked to read all of Shakespeareâ€™s plays and come up with names for the dogs.
A group of students are assigned the duty of feeding Bianca on weekends, thereby making them responsible and committed to a cause.
12-year-old Mahia runs up to Bianca to cuddle her, just like her fellow classmates. She says that though some younger students are scared of the dog, Bianca is elated when she pats her on her head.
Shukla admits that having a dog around in the school is challenging, especially with the younger children. Earlier when Bianca was younger, she would want the kids to play with her all the time, in the process scaring away some children. But not any more.
"So far we have not had any untoward incidents where the elders had to intervene to ensure the safety of the children. Having said that, it is also important for the children to understand that certain kinds of behaviour is not acceptable and can annoy the dog. We believe it is a learning process, where the children figure it out on their own and adapt to it," Shukla says.
Bianca has become an integral part of the school, just like all the other dogs in the other centres.