|Sitting nicely for "circle time"|
It's a pretty well-known fact amongst dog owners that the general population’s fear and mistrust of dogs is very quickly climbing the ranks of common fears; and if we don't move to stop it, dogs will soon be as feared and disliked as snakes, spiders, rats and germs.
It’s sad really; and more than a little alarming.
In light of this building fear and dislike of dogs, Bear and I decided to go straight to the source (sort of) and today, we spent the day jumping from school to school and visiting classroom after classroom. It was an incredible and wonderful experience, but it also raised some concerns.
It was amazing, and more than a little alarming to see how many children folded in on themselves in fear when Bear and I first walked into their classrooms – some of the younger ones even started crying the second they saw us, and it begs the question: “WHY ARE WE TEACHING OUR CHILDREN TO FEAR AND EVENTUALLY HATE THESE BEAUTIFUL ANIMALS?”
|"Dog shy"? Not anymore =)|
Thankfully, Bear is a wonderful, wonderful dog and he was in fine form today. We waited until the teachers invited us in, and then calmly joined the classroom’s circle. Once the children calmed down enough to experience Bear’s calm and collected presence in their circle, all I had to do was sit back and watch the magic happen. With Bear’s calm and unmovable presence by my side, we slowly started teaching the children how to properly greet a dog – any dog – they may happen to meet while outside walking or at the park. We talked about how to read some of the signs that a dog’s body might be trying to communicate. With help from the children themselves we practiced what to do if a dog scares us, or if we don't want a dog to come close and jump up.
|Learning how to say "hello" to a dog|
By the end of the half-hour session with Bear and I, I can proudly say that everyone had fun – including some of the more reluctant and fearful students.
Bear himself is a blessing as a teaching tool. His calm confidence was ultimately what prompted even the most fearful of children to edge a little closer, especially when they saw that their friends were getting to pet him, and hug him and even feed him some little bits of kibble.
All in all it was a wonderful day. Bear came home and promptly fell asleep, and I can rest easy knowing that for today, I managed to negate some of the fears that our younger generations hold for dogs.
It is my firm belief that we can change the negative outlooks that the general public has for larger dogs through education and demonstration.
|Happy and tired and finally going home|
Keep your tails wagging
Please note that the pictures have been purposely blurred to protect the identities of the children