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August 19, 2009 > Ohlone Humane Society: The not so dog days of Fall

Ohlone Humane Society: The not so dog days of Fall

By Nancy Lyon

Let's be honest. Some of us view the start of school with a big sigh of relief. Summer is over and the need to find activities to keep kids from being bored has at least lessened. However, the family dog curled up in a depressed ball in the corner may not share those feelings.

What's not to feel depressed about? Gone are the family outings, the ball games and the adventures into the great outdoors shared with his young human buddy ... namely, dog heaven.

Dogs don't understand the sudden change from high activity to spending a lot of time alone especially if kids and dog have been particularly close during summer vacation. During the time just before school starts don't take your fur buddy to the local school ground for recreation. This is also a good idea after school begins as it may encourage them to come looking for company if they do become bored or lonely.

The start of school brings added responsibilities and activities that are not always dog- oriented and Fido may find that he is forgotten in the rush of things. As hectic as things can get with the added time needed for homework and after school pursuits, children and parents should remember that their animal family is still in need of important exercise, companionship and love - it's important to not be just a "summer friend."

A dog basically overlooked and put on the shelf, left to amuse itself will often seek outlets for pent up energy in undesirable and sometimes destructive ways. The fault does not lie with the poor frustrated dog but with the family for putting his needs on the back burner.

Not unlike Mary's little lamb, your dog, or even your cat, may decide to follow your children to school. Given the opportunity, many following their natural inclination to be with the kids and get out, and once out, they may be encouraged by other children to tag along and can become lost, or cause a nuisance around the school yard that could get them into serious trouble. So keep your companion animal safely confined when kids are leaving for school, and if you drive your children to school, don't be tempted to take your dog with you. Never forget that animals are intelligent, learn quickly and may attempt to find their own way to school later on.

Always keep identification tags on your four-legged family with a current home and work phone number on them. Micro-chipping is an added insurance policy as many shelters routinely scan for them. If he or she turns up missing, immediately check with your local animal shelter and with the school if in case he or she does turn up there.

The start of the school year moves us to remind teachers and school librarians that Ohlone Humane Society is proud to serve as a financial sponsor of the Adopt-A-Teacher program in Fremont, Newark and Union City. Our Humane Education program provides elementary schools with a subscription to KIND (Kids in Nature's Defense) News, an award-winning classroom newspaper designed for children in grades K-6 and published by the nationally acclaimed National Association for Humane and Environmental Education (NAHEE).

Through stories, activities and photographs, KIND News teaches the value of kindness and respect for one another, animals and the environment. KIND News also encourages reading and problem solving skills, with activities that can be incorporated into lessons across the curriculum.

KIND News not only fights against cruelty to animals, but also fights against child abuse. Research has indicated that there is a link between the mistreatment of animals and the abuse of children. Helping children to discuss their pet's mistreatment may alert a teacher to a child at risk of abuse, and children are often more open to discussing the abuse of a pet more than their own mistreatment.

Included are projects that promote self-esteem and community involvement which help to teach children that their actions, no matter how small, do make difference. In helping children to develop a concern for animals, the Ohlone Humane Society through KIND News hopes to create a compassionate future for animals and for children, and a concern for our environment.

Current school budgetary cut-backs have resulted in fewer teachers; enrollment for the 2009-2010 NAHEE school year KIND News was less than last year. We encourage continuing Tri-City elementary school teachers to enroll their class for OHS KIND News sponsorships for the 2010-11 school year.

Elementary school teachers and librarians may review the KIND News program on the NAHEE website at www.nahee.org. Contact OHS at (510) 792-4587 for information on program participation in the Tri-City area.

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