Our shelter has a wonderful Humane Education program, where human/canine teams are invited to local schools to provide animal-related lessons to students ranging from Kindergarten to 8th grade. I had Cabana take the Canine Good Citizen test last year so that she would be eligible to participate. There are a total of 10 different lessons, geared for various age groups, which teach kids about caring for and respecting animals, and how they contribute to our lives and to society.
The first lesson we participated in was a lesson called Best Friends, which teaches young students about how to safely greet a dog and how to help care for their pets.
Because younger students can sometimes be afraid of bigger dogs (although I consider Cabana rather medium-sized myself), we did the lesson with another team that included Bubbles, the cutest little tiny pug I've ever seen. The kids got to choose whether to brush Cabana or Bubbles. I was happy to see that the class ended up pretty equally divided in their selection. Cabana may be 5 times the size of Bubbles, but I don't think many kids could stay scared of her.
We did the same lesson a few weeks later for a Kindergarten class. There were a couple students that admitted to being scared of dogs in general. The teacher asked those children if they would be willing to sit near Cabana and Bubbles. Within a few minutes, the little boy sitting by Cabana became much more comfortable and even petted her throughout the lesson.
The director of the program asked me to design a dog safety poster, using the acrostic "L.A.S.T", which stands for Look, Ask, Show, Touch. I had my younger daughter to sketch a picture of a child looking at a dog and his owner. I scanned the picture and manipulated it in Illustrator to make this poster.
The last lesson we did was probably my favorite. It was called "Science in the Real World: Solving a Veterinary Mystery" and was presented to a 6th grade class by an actual veterinarian. He pretended to examine Cabana and gave the students clues about her "illness". He would ask me questions, and I would answer according to a script I had been given earlier. The students were also allowed to ask questions, and their job was to use their deductive reasoning skills to figure out which of four possible illnesses Cabana had.
The correct answer was heartworm! Blechh, thank goodness it wasn't real! I'm looking forward to future participation in the coming school year.