Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Critters Care 2013 Year in Review...

"Critters Care" and "Chloe's Tales" had quite the busy first year in humane education and canine reading therapy. Although I wasn't always on top of my facebook posts and blog entries, you can see through these photos that Chloe and I had lots of wonderful visits to classrooms, libraries and even a nursing home. I would like to thank all the wonderful people and animals that helped us launch our first year of outreach work--Iris and her pup Abby; Jeff and his canine Henry; my mom and pops and their dog Cleo; Sarah and her Great Dane Diesel; Cindy and her dachshund Berlin; my parrot B.C., rat Norman, rabbit Adobe, pup Serenity and of course my beautiful Chloe. I would also like to give a big thanks to all the teachers and librarians that welcomed our visits--Vilma Betancourt, Julie Campbell, Jennifer Crow, Irene De Flavio, Janet Moore, Tara Shetler, Jolanta Stern, and Kathryn Steury.  And I would  like to thank all the wonderful schools we traveled to--Browning Elementary, Gardens Elementary, Harmony Endeavor Elementary and Lanier Middle School. With 2014 now upon us we look forward to another fun and fulfilling year ahead. And for those that happen to know any schools that would be open to a visit from us, please share as we are always up for new adventures. Plus I am always looking for helpful hands for our various visits as well as more ambassador animals to share with avid students :-) And lastly I would like to give a special shout-out of love to 2 of our special ambassadors that crossed over Rainbow Bridge in 2013--Norman and Serenity. They will be greatly missed, but always in our hearts.

Chloe's Tales with Cindy and pup Berlin
Kingwood Nursing Home with Cindy and pup Berlin
Teaching kids about the special needs of a parrot
Kingwood Nursing home with Chloe

Ambassador Canine Henry

Easter pics with Chloe

Kids trying to pose as a sleeping parrot (one leg with head back)
Bunny presentation with Chloe being the representative rabbit

Sarah with her Great Dane Diesel

Ambassador Rat Norman checking out the view

Ambassador Rat Norman

Ambassador Bunny Adobe

Norman getting some love
Ambassador Canine Abby

Presentation on "If You Were A Parrot"
Ambassador Amazon B.C.

Student loving on Chloe

Easter pics with Chloe

Teaching on canine body language while Chloe exhibits "relaxed"
Teaching about critters found in our backyards
Power Point presentation

Students filling out their activity page while Adobe makes the rounds
My pops & Jeff with their canines Cleo and Henry

Christmas pics with Chloe Claus

Chloe Claus with human santa and reindeer

Teacher Kathryn Steury loving on Chloe Claus

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

Friday, May 10, 2013

Choe's Tales

On Monday Canine Reading Ambassador Chloe & I had an opportunity to hold our literacy sessions outside due to the fact the room we typically work in was being used for "Stanford testing".  It was a perfect day for doing so as Mother Nature blessed us with such great weather.  Of course it was a bit distracting for Chloe as all her senses were in stimulation overload!  Oh, if only the weather would be like this all year long.  But we know the Texas summer will hit us soon enough, so enjoyed this blissful experience with nature :-)



Critters Care Story Time--"If You Were a Parrot"

Telling the tale!
showing off B.C.
On Tuesday, May 7th, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with a small group of Garden's Elementary autistic students for a story time presentation regarding the whimsical tale "If You Were a Parrot".  This fun book takes listeners on a journey of what their life would be like if they were one of these colorful birds.  For example, with feet that have 2 toes in front and 3 facing backward they would be able to climb curtains, bookshelves, and plants.  And with a hooked beak they would be able to chew through furniture legs and eat a popsicle--stick and all! Of course I brought canine Chloe and feathered one B.C. along as my Animal Ambassadors, which really excited the kids as I'm sure none of them had experienced an up close meeting with a parrot.  I believe though they all enjoyed the story, they loved meeting the Animal Ambassadors more.  Following the tale, I brought B.C. out of his carrier to show them some of his unique characteristics.  Such as the fact he is missing one toe nail because of a fight he got into with a Macaw at the pet store before I adopted him (obviously the Macaw won!); that he uses his foot to eat a cracker, which I had him demonstrate with a wheat thin treat I had brought along; and that he is 29 years old, but this is yet young for him!    After this they were all given the chance to come and pet Chloe for a picture, as well as look at B.C. more closely while he safely sat in his carrier.  It was a great session and really enjoyed the chance to bring a new experience for these delightful kids.

Some of the students giving Chloe loving hugs (notice B.C. in the background watching with wonder!)

Kids eying B.C. up close while he is safely contained :-)

All the kids with Chloe & B.C.