Our anti-bully program, Be Cool, Not Cruel, has become extremely popular and many new schools have approached us to introduce the concept to their students.
The program was originally developed for fourth and fifth grade students but now the most consistent call is for first grade presentations.
The younger the children we can discuss the subject with, the hope is that it resonates through their growing up years.
Many concepts are discussed and all from a dog’s perspective. The difference between teasing and bullying, how teasing and bullying makes dogs and humans feel, how dogs and humans become friends or show their dislike for others, and related discussions.
But it always begins by discussing how much more fun and interesting it is when you bring together many different dogs … and people. Differences are to be celebrated and embraced. Differences are what make us special.
Each dog in the room shares his or her personal story and why they are different. And the children are asked to describe some things they can see that are different about each dog.
Then we share with the children some “invisible” differences, as we all have them.
Even the youngest child gets it.
We end every session by teaching the children how to greet a new dog safely and they get to meet the Love Dogs and pet them.
They seem to particularly relate to Benny, the dog who was so misunderstood. The dog deemed un-teachable is now the teacher.
The dog teased and treated badly is now the one teaching others about resilience and strength and humility and kindness.
The Love Dogs try to honor every school request but I must admit we could easily spend every day in a school with this unique program, but that would mean giving up our therapeutic work. Somehow we are finding a balance between education and therapeutic endeavors and thanks to the most talented handlers and their dogs, we can make a difference in both areas.