That’s how we begin the discussion about bullies and bullying. Being misunderstood means people think one way about you but you know the truth.
The difference between teasing and bullying is intent and the kids all get that. The discussion always starts by talking about the dogs in the room. We had five dogs with us for this lesson and each one has a unique reason for being misunderstood.
George is big and goofy but very shy and needs to get to know you before he is comfortable. People might think he is not social because he is shy, but he is a very social dog.
Dash likes to take his time figuring out the situation so people might think the dog that can run thirty five miles an hour is not being friendly. But he is just taking his time to show you his true colors.
Cricket is a toy poodle and people think poodles are just lap dogs. But Cricket likes to dance and show you how talented she is.
Bailey is a huge dog but a gentle giant. People think he will pull them or jump on them but he just wants to lay by your side and be your friend.
And Benny – oh boy Benny. Benny was in so many homes before he was a year old he was bullied by little kids, other dogs, adults. He was just about to become the bully himself and strike out when he found Kirby and me.
That’s what can happen when someone is bullied for so long. But Kirby and I saw his true personality and treated him with love and respect and he showed us the real Benny. He is a gentle, sweet boy who only wants to be with you and love you.
The kids learned how dogs signal when they are scared or annoyed or tired or happy or glad to see you.
They learned how dogs give warnings that they have had enough and need to be alone.
They learned the best way for people to signal to others that they want to be friends is with a big smile.
So at the end of our discussion many of the kids shared with us that they have been bullied and some admitted to doing the bullying.
Through the eyes of the dogs they understood that the way to combat insecure kids who are the bullies is by being confident and secure in yourself and knowing that people who understand you are your true friends.
And that every dog deserves to be loved and cared for and allowed to be themselves.