Friday, February 12, 2010

Transformation ... one kid at a time ...

On Wednesday of this week I had a very busy work day as a therapy dog. My day began with volunteering at The Lab (a program serving at-risk youth of St. Paul Public Schools). Last semester we had this one kid "J" go through one of our "dog groups". "J" had a chance to meet me, and my buddy Sharpie, at this group. Mom assisted auntie Danielle in leading our dog group. I could see "J" come alive over the weeks. He LOVED coming to The Lab for the dog group. We decided to give "J" an opportunity to continue working with dogs, and mom offered to provide 1:1 mentorship to teach "J" how to give presentations. My first volunteer opportunity at The Lab was when i went with mom to a class and we shared my story ... that was so fun!!

So mom and I met with "J" two times to prepare him for giving a class presentation and assisting mom. He's never given a presentation or had any experience public speaking so this was new for him. He was so excited about having the chance to do something and for the two times we met, "J" and mom put together the outline of what the presentation would be (of course, a large part was my story and how resilient and forgiving animals are) and he even had a chance to rehearse. Our second prep meeting including "J" presenting to mom, Momma MT and my brother Mister. He rocked!!

Well, this week he had a chance to present to a class of 6th graders. It was an early morning class (8 am!) so mom and I got to The Lab really early so that we could greet "J" when he comes out of the cab and walks into the Homecroft building where The Lab is. I love how excited "J" is to see me. This last time, when mom saw "J' coming in she let me off leash so that I greet him. She knows I just love him. He's a pal now and I know I can trust him. He's always looking out for me and making sure i'm okay.

"J" did such an awesome job presenting to the class of 6th graders. They were all so interested and asked lots of questions. At the end this one kid said to "J": "You did a great job. You really know your business". They also got the key message we were trying to convey: that Ahnung who came from a very rough start has been able to move through it (they learned the word "resilience") and has been able to learn to trust again, and to play.

"J" and I (okay ... mom too!) will be presenting to 3 more classes. I am so proud of my buddy "J". I gave him a high five. Mom also gave him a high five after our presentation.

Mom also wants me to tell you that we are needing more therapy dog teams. Sharpie and I are a part of the Canine Inspired Change team whose mission is partnering with therapy dogs to teach social and emotional skills ... right now we are focusing on at-risk youth and autistic youth and adults. If you want to learn more about it takes to become a therapy dog, you can email me ... yes, I have my own email account: Okay friends .... what are you waiting for! Tell your Humans to get you signed up for training so you can join me and Sharpie making a difference in our community ... transforming kids one dog at a time.

And here's a short video clip that my mom took of me when "J" arrived! I was so happy!!! :)

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