Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Critters Care Story Time--"Greta's Purpose"

On Tuesday, May 14, and Wednesday, May 15, Chloe and I had the great pleasure to work with Sarah Magill and her Great Dane, Diesel, for a story time presentation at Browning Elementary. We worked with Ms. Stern’s 4th grade class on Tuesday and Ms. Crow’s 3rd grade class on Wednesday. Both
classes heard the story “Greta’s Purpose”, which takes the listeners on the journey of an awkward Great Dane puppy looking for her purpose in life. Along the way she meets a police dog, a couple of sheep herding canines, a service dog for a handicapped woman, a “beagle brigade” that searches for illegal fruit, vegetable, and meat being brought into the country at airports, and a seeing-eye pup for a blind person. Each time she feels defeated, as she cannot see herself in any of these roles since she is so large and clumsy. But finally one day her owners take her along to a nursing home where they visit an elderly relative, who immediately perks up when she sees Greta and falls in love with this gentle giant. It is then that Greta feels she has found her calling
in life and begins to work as a therapy canine to visit hospitals and nursing homes. The students were very engaged with this beautiful story, and were even more enamored learning about Diesel and his own personal tale, where his previous owners suffered a home fire and could no longer take care of him. So Sarah lovingly took him into her home and he has been spoiled ever since. Of course his size—160 pounds—does make him a “scene stealer” wherever they go, and he definitely took up quite the presence in the classrooms. This was Diesel’s first educational outreach experience and he was quite the engaging ambassador. All the students had an opportunity to ask questions about this new visitor, and were quite surprised when at one point during both presentations he began to “talk” and then let out a huge Great Dane bark, which took them all aback as Chloe is always the silent one. I thought it was a great educational experience for them to realize that a dog’s bark doesn’t necessarily mean they are expressing aggression, but rather are simply communicating in their special
Diesel & Sarah
canine way. I also introduced the students to other kinds of service dogs, such as those that search for mines in the battlefield, work as “actors”, pull sleds, help with the deaf, and even search for truffles. The culminating activity was for students to pair up and create posters for an upcoming fictional “2013 Dog Hero Contest”. They were assigned a particular service dog and their courageous deed, then asked to come up with a poster asking for people to vote for their pup to win the “Dog Hero of the Year”
Award. I gave them a couple days to work with the posters and was very impressed with their final products. It was truly a special experience for all involved—students, teachers, handlers, and pups—and a wonderful way to start closing out the spring school year!

                                                         Student Hero Posters

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