I’m sure many of you have heard of the wonderful Dogs Trust; the largest dog welfare charity in the UK. They never put a healthy dog down and are renowned for this caring ethos via their 20 nationwide rehoming centres. They help approximately 16,000 dogs each year and I’m sure you’ll agree, this is an impressive charity that deserves a lot of support (huge round of applause or should that be a ‘paws’ please!!)
However this isn’t the only part of Dogs Trust that we should be impressed by, oh no, quite the contrary!! In fact, in addition to rehoming; free microchipping; subsidised neutering; schemes such as Hope Project (as mentioned in Part Two of my recent post for Blue Cross, who assist Dogs Trust with this) and Freedom Projects, to name but a few, Dogs Trust ALSO want to help educate the owners of tomorrow; integral if we want to minimise the number of dogs currently seen up and down the country needing new homes and reducing the number of cases of cruelty towards dogs. Come and read just how Dogs Trust do this! It’s pretty incredible….
Schools out for summer – or is it?!!
As it’s the Summer holidays, what better way to keep the little ones entertained than with a fabulous talk by Dogs Trust education team!!! Whilst not a child myself (well not in body at least!!) I was lucky enough to attend one of their holiday clubs in Buckinghamshire. The holiday club was held at a school and I was greeted by the wonderful Jo Bains, who is the Education & Community Officer for Beds, Bucks, Berks and Herts. I was also lucky enough to meet a new member of the Dogs Trust team, Charlotte Paddock, who will be paving the way for educating youngsters and many others in yet another area of the UK, as Dogs Trust expand into new territory to ensure their message about dog education reaches as many as possible. It’s great to see and hear that the UK is really embracing these workshops (and so they should, as amazingly they’re free!!)
Dogs Trust has education teams up and down the country (you can find your nearest by clicking the link at the end of this blog) and they work with children aged 4 – 11 years, although they are expanding to older children in addition to the work they already do with young offenders. The education teams work both during holiday time and term time and work with the National Curriculum. They can vary their workshops depending on what class they’re joining (e.g. they may attend a maths class and use the cost of dog ownership as part of a lesson or even a drama class, where children pretend they’re an abandoned dog and explore their feelings about this). It’s times like this I wish I could turn the clock back and be at school again!!
The Big Five
In the class I attended, Jo provided a general overview of dog ownership and how to behave around dogs (this is great as sadly I’ve experienced, as I’m sure you have, times where children haven’t been taught how to behave around a dog and run over to stroke mine without even asking – something Ted isn’t overly keen on which isn’t entirely surprising!) Dogs Trust explain these key points via the 5 senses:
Jo was really clever here and used chocolate to teach the children (who wouldn’t want to be taught with chocolate?!!) A child volunteered and had to guess what they were eating, much to the excited squirms and cries from the class!! This was used to show chocolate can be poisonous to dogs and lead to everyone shouting out what they thought would be poisonous and what food should actually be fed to dogs. My favourite quote was when one child thought a beef burger was the most poisonous! Of course the really poisonous options were explained!
As before, another of the eager class volunteered to be blindfolded and had to guess the noise this time. The answer? It was a collar and lead. This raised a discussion about the importance of dogs wearing name tags and when they should be on a lead. For those who had dogs, they were asked to go home and check their dog has a collar and lead with a correctly labelled ID tag.
With the next task, much to the amusement of the class, some fake dogs mess was used to teach how to and why they need to clean up after their dog. By the end everyone was shouting in unison the Dogs Trust mantra of ‘Scoop that Poop!!’ I must admit it worked as I now have that lodged firmly in my head every time I need to pick up after Ted! (Not that I didn’t before, I hasten to add!!)
This sense was actually used to explain something us dog owners don’t see – microchips! Jo carefully explained why dogs need these as well as a collar and even showed an actual microchip to the class too, as well as demonstrating how the microchips are scanned. “Is it a zapper?! NO!!! Is it a new iPhone? NO!! It’s a microchip scanner!!” Love it (and so did the children from all the laughter!)
The final sense was used to explain the importance of grooming dogs and protecting them from creepy crawlies such as fleas and ticks. We were also shown an actual roundworm! Disgusting but great to see as that’s something neither the children (or I!) will forget in a long while!
END OF SESSION!
To round off the 45 minute session, the children were taught by Jo how to approach a dog and what they should do to protect themselves from an overexcited dog. Here the children learnt about ‘The X Factor’ which is the position to be used in such situations (although Simon Cowell was nowhere in sight sadly!) The children grabbed the opportunity to leap up though and show just how it should be done! It was great to see such enthusiasm from them all throughout the whole session. By involving them from start to finish, you could tell they really enjoyed the session and learnt a lot.
I can’t praise Dogs Trust highly enough for investing in the owners of tomorrow; as that is essentially what they’re doing. It was such an interactive experience and I really enjoyed it! As with all the great charities out there, they rely on our donations though. Having received sponsorship of a dog in the past via Dogs Trust as a birthday present, I’ll be looking at doing it again, having seen firsthand just one part of their special work. If you’re interested in learning more about their education workshops; want to donate, volunteer or even rehome one of their fabulous dogs, then please follow the links below. There are also free educational publications which you might want to download. In the meantime, a huge Thank You to Jo and Charlotte for all they do and for making me feel so welcome!