We believe that learning how to connect with animals is the principle behind motivating people to care for and protect them. We work with children and families to raise awareness about how important it is to be a responsible and caring pet owner and how it affects us all positively.
One of the pillars of our veterinary clinic project in Valdivia is our education program. On our first anniversary, this past May, we hosted an “Open Clinic” day where children could take a tour of the clinic, listen to their pet’s heartbeat and learn about their health and welfare. Following the rave reviews after that event, we decided to organize a proper workshop for children to learn to really connect at a deeper level with dogs.
August 6th was the big day. We posted the ad for enrollment on our clinic Facebook page, and within minutes, the spots were all reserved! The children arrived and while we gave them their name tags they told us all about their pets and what they did with them. First we saw a very informative video (that you can see here in Spanish) about preventing dog bites in children. The kids learned about the tree and rock positions and not to approach dogs that they didn’t know.
Then it was time to learn about pet care. With the help from our furry assistants, Elsa and Holly, the kids learned how to listen to their heartbeats, feel their pulse and examine their body condition (Is Elsa too fat? too skinny? or just right?). They also learned why it is so important to vaccinate and deworm our pets, to prevent transmission of disease to us and other animals.
Then we had a very special activity for the children: a basic training course with professional dog trainers! Leticia and Robinson have years of training experience. They also are truly invested in helping kids connect with dogs, and we are so grateful that they decided to donate their time to this program.
With the help of their trained dogs, the kids learned about how to properly approach a dog that wasn’t theirs and a few tricks, like make them sit or lay down.
By the end of the workshop the kids had learned a few things about dogs health and care that they didn`t know before, but more importantly, we saw kids running, playing, stroking and talking to the dogs. These are things that are really new for them! Often dogs are backyard ornaments, and it is not part of their reality to have a good time with them. We are hoping that through these and upcoming workshops, that we can change that. We know how valuable it is to have that connection- our dogs are our friends, they are always there for us through thick and thin, they love us unconditionally, and we want to share that experience with the children of Chile.
So at the end of the day, we were all very excited with how it turned out; we’re already planning for the next one! Oh, and the best moment of the day? Definitely at the end, when two of the kids said they wanted to be a veterinary doctor when they grow up.