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Cori’s first successes in humane education

January 18, 2007

Cori in our backyard

Cori O’Holleran Bugle

For the longest time I’ve been wanting to take my beagle into settings with children where she can set a good example of how to care for an animal and we can show off the human-animal bond. We finally had our first public “appearance” tonight on behalf of the Montgomery County Humane Society, and Cori was absolutely on her best behavior. Despite a few “issues” that prevent her from qualifying for Canine Good Citizen status at the moment, her strong point is that she apparently was well-socialized with children before I adopted her. Just like when we walk around our neighborhood, she sat politely for the kids at the church where the presentation was held. Ages 6-10, the kids all gathered around her, petted her and fed her tiny treats. Nothing particularly unusual about all that, and that’s what makes me so pleased.

Two days later, a small group of special ed kids visited the shelter on site. One boy not only had a learning disability but also was from an immigrant family and didn’t yet know any English. At one point during the presentation he and one of the teachers were sitting on the floor near Cori and me. It was evident he wanted to reach out to Cori but was unsure of himself, so I showed him non-verbally how to pet her, which he then did. I also showed him how to put a treat in the palm of his hand and keep it open for her to retrieve the treat and give him a slobbery lick. He liked that! So we did it again! And I overheard the other teacher comment how good it was to see him focus for a change.

That’s why I’ve wanted to get Cori engaged in some aspect or another of therapy work. Even though she has those issues, she’s just so good with youngsters, and for her, it apparently makes no difference whatsoever what their abilities are. Would that humans were equally forgiving!

I want to say something about the connection between animal care and the environment, since most of my posts to date have focused on the latter. The titles I mentioned in my initial post (see the Archives!) make the connection pretty obvious to me, although that’s not necessarily the case historically. People who espouse one of these causes aren’t always in the same camp as people in the other, for a variety of reasons. But in today’s developed world, researchers seem to be increasingly documenting the interconnections between human health and the environment, and animal health and the environment. It just makes sense there should be a strong recognition by humans that absent a well-cared-for natural environment, there’s a significantly reduced quality of life for all living beings. If we are going to maintain that high quality of life for all living beings, then by definition that care extends to companion animals. We are asking them to adjust to human lifestyles in urban and suburban settings, and that places demands on us to make that adjustment happen in ways that are humane to our pets.

More about this as we continue our adventures in humane education over the next few months.

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