Friday, January 28, 2011

PETS Graduation

First semester of Lad Lake has come to an end, and so the boys that were participating in the PETS (Positive Empathy Training for Success) program graduated.

I am very proud at the end of each semester of how far the students have come. Not only have their training skills improved, but they have achieved personal growth as well.

One of the boys who tended to get frustrated and shut down in the beginning learned to become more patient and adapt if things didn't go the way he thought he should. Another went from being bossy with the other boys to becoming a true team member who could express himself without belittling. A third boy who used to run away from school when his emotions got the better of him, learned to control himself so that he could attend the program at HAWS.

Each semester I make a video for the boys comprised of the video and photos that were taken during their time here and add music. Because it's a gift for pre-teen and teenage boys, the music I use is for them. The boys get the video, as well as files containing photos and unedited video and a certificate of completion.

The video embedded here is an edited version of what I made for the boys.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I Know a Rooster When I Hear One

One of the most interesting parts about working in an animal shelter is that you never quite know what we have until you come into work.

As I was walking into the building from the parking lot one day last week I heard crowing. Yep -- HAWS had a rooster.

Apparently the lucky guy was originally slated to be someone's dinner. I don't know what the circumstances were, but he ended up at HAWS looking for a new home.

We're hoping to find a forever farm for him soon.

Another lucky animal was a cat that was found in an abandoned garage last night by a kind Waukesha County resident and brought into HAWS. The weather in Wisconsin right now is brutally cold -- it was -8 degrees when I got up this morning. The poor kitty was half frozen and luckily survived. Right now she's staying in a foster home while she recovers from her ordeal.

This serves as a good reminder to all of us who have pets that they really shouldn't be outside for any length of time. I know my dogs run out to eliminate and then want to come right back in.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Really Wonderful Book

I've been giving a lot of thought to the "Smooch your Pooch" book and the blog post I did about it last month.

There are a lot of really great books for children that do a wonderful job helping children develop respect and empathy for pets, and learn how to appropriately interact with them.

Once of my favorites is a book called "Libby and the Cat" by Yetti Frenkel. The front cover illustration shows a little girl about to step on the tail of her cat. While this would make the book appear to be a poor choice as an appropriate pet friendly story for children, trust me when I say the book is wonderful. I love it so much that I gave it as a gift to my young nephew, and often read it on my visits to pre-school classrooms.

The story is about 3 year old Libby Bess who teases the family cat. She steps on his tail, dresses him up in hats, pushes him in a stroller, and sneaks up on him and scares him -- among other things.

One day she realizes that she doesn't like it when people force her to do things she doesn't want to do, and realizes that the cat probably doesn't either. At that point she starts to do things for the cat that she thinks he most likely enjoys -- likely playing with him with a catnip mouse string toy.

What's so wonderful about this book is that I think kids really can relate to this. Teasing other kids and animals can give children a sense of power that they might not be able to get any other way -- it can make them feel good. But realizing that others have feelings and our behavior can impact the emotions of others should be part of growing up to be an emotionally healthy person -- it should be the goal of any parent for their child. And this book can be a tool to help children with this important part of their development.