Be Cool, Not Cruel … is changing the face of bullying one lick at a time.
Imagine feeling different, unloved, scared and picked upon. That’s how our animals felt before they found their new homes and became animal assisted therapy dogs with Love Dog Adventures.
That’s how the 5th – 8th graders who participate in the Be Cool, Not Cruel program feel — and they can relate to the dogs they meet because they have so much in common.
They too may feel left out, forgotten, unable to process their feelings and either are the targets of bullying or those doing the bullying.
The Be Cool, Not Cruel program brings together young teens and dogs to explore tolerance, acceptance, self-esteem and unconditional love through the eyes of the dogs in the program. It targets fifth to 8th graders as they are on the cusp of new beginnings and just starting to understand who they are. Dogs only want three things in life: to give love, to receive love and to be cared for.
They do not care if their people have brown or blue eyes, black or blonde hair, curly or straight hair, are short or tall, sit in a chair or in wheels … they are all accepting.
They do not care if they themselves are young or old, can see or are sightless, have three legs or no tail.
They do not discriminate. They only seek goodness in people and give all they can in return.
They are resilient and bounce back from horrible abuses and love again.
They have learned to have confidence in their abilities and not dwell on their limitations.
They want and need to be trusted and to learn to trust. Some take longer like Benny, who was returned to the shelter several times in his first year. Not considered a very social dog, he now leads the discussion on shyness, trust and understanding.
Or dogs like KC who was left behind when his family moved.
Or dogs like Bingo who was very different looking and had a goofy way about him.
Or dogs like Kirby who is losing his sight and needs to ride in a buggy.
At the end of the fifty minute Be Cool, Not Cruel session, the students are asked to complete the sentence for themselves. This is what they have to say about themselves:
I am smart
I am reliable
I am a good friend
I am dedicated to my animals
I am generous
I am kind
I am learning to be good to myself
And the list goes on and on. Through the eyes and experiences of the dogs, we are all learning to appreciate who we are and say out loud I can Be Cool, Not Cruel.
Be Cool, Not Cruel will be offered to all Las Vegas schools and interested professionals can get more information at www.lovedogadventures.com.