Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Girl Scouts Learn About Pet Care and Therapy Dogs

Teaching kids how to properly care for and be kind to animals is important, not just for the animals but for the children themselves. Sure we want our children to grow up to be nice people, but there's an even bigger reason

Teaching the Girl Scouts about responsible pet ownership
It's important to teach kids about being kind to animals
There is a strong link between mistreating animals and violence against people.  Teaching kids how to properly care for pets and be kind to animals helps build compassion and empathy.

Recently, a fellow Therapy Dog handler and I were asked to speak to a local Girl Scout troop about how to properly care for pets and about how Therapy Dogs help people.  The girls were about 10 years old.


Therapy Dogs help kids build their reading skills
We talked to the girls about how Therapy Dogs help kids improve reading skills
I always find it interesting to hear the questions the kids come up with.  I must admit, whenever I talk with kids about dogs they come up with at least one question that throws me for a loop!  I thought I'd share some of the questions the girls asked us in our meeting with them, and the one question I had a hard time answering!

** "Does your dog help blind people cross the street?"  We said no and explained the difference between a Service Dog and a Therapy Dog.   I told them about the volunteer work Icy and I do as a Therapy Dog team like Children Reading to Dogs and College Stress Busters.

** There were lots of questions about how they can convince their parents to let them have a dog!  It sparked some really fun conversation when we asked them to think about what they thought was stopping their parents from saying Yes to a dog.  Apparently, none of them want to clean up a dog's poop, which I'm guessing is a key reason for their parents' reluctance!  We explained why it's important to clean up after your dog.

** "How do you know if a dog is sick?" and "What do you do when a dog gets sick?"  We asked them how their mom knows they are sick, other than telling her so, and explained that a sick dog has many of the same signs as a sick kid; vomiting, diarrhea, or not wanting to get up and play.  We discussed the importance of taking your dog to the Vet quickly if he looks sick.

** I was talking about the responsibilities of owning a dog and got around to discussing that a shelter or rescue is a great place to get a dog because it saves a life.  I talked about puppy mills, how they are hurtful to animals, and why people want to Adopt not Shop.  Suddenly, one of the girls raised her hand and asked "Is (she named a specific puppy store in our town) a puppy mill??  I wasn't prepared for a question like that, I really had to think about the appropriate way to respond! 

I explained the difference between a puppy mill breeder and a puppy store, and that many people believe puppy stores sell a lot of mill puppies.  I didn't want to make any kind of accusatory statement about the specific puppy store, that wouldn't be right and could land me in a world of hurt!  


The Bideawee shelter invited Girl Scouts to talk about Therapy Dogs and responsible pet care
The Bideawee animal shelter invited us to speak with a local Girl Scout troop about Therapy Dog work and responsible pet care 

I told the girls I couldn't say whether or not a specific puppy store bought their puppies from puppy mills but that many of them do.  That's why it's a great idea to get a puppy or dog from a shelter or rescue and save a life.  The girls seemed to understand and agree with that. Whew!


Teaching kids about  #AdoptDontShop
We talked to the kids about how Adopting vs. Shopping can save a shelter pet's life!
It was a lot of fun talking with the Girl Scouts about responsibly caring for pets and how Therapy Dogs can help people.  Talking with kids like this is a great way to lay the foundation for kindness to animals, the proper way to care for pets, and the beauty of the human-animal bond.

NOTE: We were not permitted to take photos of the children for privacy reasons.

Have you ever talked with a group of kids about animals?  What points would you stress when talking with kids about caring for animals?  Please leave us a comment & share, we love when you bark back!

 

31 comments:

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    1. Why thank you, that's so sweet of you to say!

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  2. You provided a great opportunity for these young girls to learn a lesson about animals that will stick with them for a lifetime. Excellent!

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    1. I do hope it sticks with them for a lifetime! Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. It's so nice of you guys teaching kids about dogs! I bet they learned so much about dogs and they will love dogs more! <3 Thank you for being an inspiration! :D

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    1. We really enjoy talking with kids, they're so inquisitive and ask such thoughtful questions! I hope they remember the things we talked about. Thanks for visiting us Hazel!

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  4. I loved reading the questions the girls asked you. That's so great you had the opportunity to speak with a group of Girl Scouts about pet care and therapy dogs.

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    1. I'm really glad we had the opportunity as well. I'm always interested, and often surprised by the questions the kids ask us! It's such fun. Thanks for stopping by Jennifer!

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  5. What a great learning experience!
    —Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats

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    1. I hope it was, I think so. I'm glad the kids had fun and learned a little something about how to treat and care for animals!

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  6. This is a great service that you are performing for these young girls. I was a troop leader for several years. It was always fun to talk about pets and animals.

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    1. How fabulous! I didn't know you were a Girl Scout leader, what a great way to give back to the community & help girls find their confidence and strength! I love talking with kids about animals, they are always so engaging.

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  7. It's so important to teach our kids to be kind to animals. It's awesome that you get to spread the word to these girls.

    Rosa @ Cat Lady Confidential

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    1. Yes, it's very important that kids learn respect and kindness towards animals at an early age. I hope they share what they've learned with their friends.

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  8. How interesting to share their questions! You handled the puppy store question so well too. This was such a wonderful thing to do since many kids don't have the experience of growing up with dogs. Nice job, Cathy!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed seeing some of the questions. They're so inquisitive and engaging, I love that! Thanks for the kind words about the puppy store question, that one really surprised me! Thanks for stopping by today!

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  9. It sounds like you made the most of a wonderful opportunity! I bet that many of the girls will remember this visit for a long time. Hopefully when the time is right for them they will choose to adopt or get a dog from an ethical breeder.

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  10. What a wonderful thing you did for the kids. Mom used to teach horseback riding and did this kind of outreach with the horses.

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  11. This is so great! We have a group of volunteers in our town that goes to the local schools and teaches the students about what to do if they see an animal lost, abused or hurt as well as how to approach a dog. Great post!

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  12. Great article and we were thrilled to read the kiddies questions! They really are smart - and kids are where the biggest difference can happen!

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  13. We've said it before, but really think this is an amazing opportunity! Congrats on a job well done!

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  14. I think it's wonderful what you did by speaking with these kids. I hope it opened their eyes and minds. Apparently it did for one of them to ask that question!

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  15. Best education one can give a kid as it will make them a better adult

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  16. Teaching kids is a great way to ensure the next generation has the furry tools needed to keep pets safe.

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  17. Yes, Mr. N was a demo dog for a dog safety class but we mostly just talked about dog body language and safety. These were younger kids.

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  18. I love that you did this, Cathy. Even if one child remembers what was said and does something about it - then this is a victory. Way to go!

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  19. I love that the Girl Scouts had you do this; it sounds like you taught them some very, very important things!
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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  20. I think teaching kids about interacting with dogs and taking care of them is so important. My niece and nephew are animals lovers but they have to be constantly reminded about how they should interact with them.

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  21. Great information.. Children do come up with Aimee interesting questions.

    Sarah and Shadow

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