Thursday, November 13, 2014

Dogs of Character

Lizzie was left alone on a city street. Scout is different from most dogs with four legs, but being different is good. Guthrie, a thin-coated pug, was found shivering outside in the cold Oklahoma snow.

Three rescue dogs. Three heart-warming stories. One school cafeteria filled with totally captivated elementary students. If you want young children to recall your message, bring a rescue dog to the presentation.
On Oct. 28, several hundred Rummel Creek Elementary School students learned how rescue dogs Lizzie, Scout and Guthrie had survived, and how their personal stories and interaction with the families that adopted them, have changed all who have become involved with them ever after.

The Dogs of Character presentation was titled “Who Will You Rescue?” Rescue dog owners and Dogs of Character program leaders hosted a cafeteria assembly with big anti-bullying and empathy focused messages.

The rescue dogs Lizzie, Scout and Guthrie taught the children lessons from their lives in perseverance, courage, self-worth, leadership and responsibility.

Owners like Vanessa Goodman related how a Yellow Labrador with a missing leg, and multiple health issues resulting in three surgeries, can change your own world view. Suddenly, your own leg surgery is not that big a deal.

“Scout has lost a leg, but she still comes running. Scout is different, but different is good. She can do things with three legs that you would not believe,” Vanessa told a rapt assembly of students.

“She helps me with my own attitude. She is the pack leader in our house and she is the fastest of all our dogs,” she added.

Joy Southard, director of Dogs of Character, says that children get a living example of positive life skills and responses with the rescue dogs like Scout and others. The Dogs of Character group has 75 rescue dogs in its program.

Dogs of Character programs are usually presented to elementary-age children, in part, because younger students tend to have more empathy for rescue dog stories than secondary students. “A rescue dog speaks directly to children,” she says.

Counselor Jennifer Buchert, who helped bring the program to Rummel Creek, is anxious to connect Scout’s story of courage and perseverance to more classroom lessons this fall.

“What’s cool to me is that a program like this can enrich the social and emotional aspect of the learning environment, which ties directly into the SBISD System of Care climate and culture piece of the district’s T-2-4 Plan,” Buchert says.

At the end of the assembly, students recited a Dogs of Character Pledge that asked them to be “rescuers” in situations where bullying, name calling, or other negative actions occur in their lives.

Outside the cafeteria, students lined up and then slowly walked past Scout, Lizzie and the pug, Guthrie, all of whom received appreciative pats from students. Talk about being loved!

To learn more about the Dogs of Character program, contact:
Joy Southard
Phone: 936-525-7385


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