Feature Writer Ann Chiapetta – When You’re Happy and You Know It, Wag Your Tail

It was ten a.m. as I knocked on the door to the Montessori School. The teacher recognized us and buzzed open the door. I was impressed that the school had a secure entrance. Verona led me to a chair while we waited to join the nursery / preschool class. I was armed with Guiding Eyes dog shaped book marks and coloring books, but was disappointed I couldn’t play the DVD about the raising and training of a puppy.

Soon I was seated in a little people chair with Verona. The children took turns saying their names. One child, named Emma, said her name twice and got to pet Verona first. We handed out the coloring books and talked about the dog. Next, we went into the class with older students and boy, did we have fun. They asked a lot of questions, like where can I take my dog and how does the dog tell me where to go? Then, each child took turns interacting with us and we wrapped up by repeating the number one rule when seeing a dog guide team: please don’t pet the dog while it’s working. I handed the harness around, too. One kid asked what was in the harness pouch. When I pulled out a blue bag and asked what they thought it was used for, no one answered. So I said, “These are poopy bags.” Well, they all laughed and the child who asked about the pouch said he uses them for his dogs, too.

We wrapped up by singing “When you’re happy and you know it”. I sung the second verse, when you’re happy and you know it, wag your tail. Well, Verona just loves it when folks sing, so she pranced around and danced with us. It was a rewarding and energizing time had by all. What touched me the most was the comment made by one of the teachers, “What is so amazing is the way your dog looks at you with such adoration; it is a beautiful thing.” I made a joke, saying it’s just because she knows I have the treat pouch on my belt. As we leave, I know I look at her the same way and wonder why no one has noticed. A funny thing happens when you work a dog; suddenly it’s all about the dog, not you. It’s about how a dog helps, how long it took to raise and train them, etc. Sharing this with others at times like this is a bonus. Who knows, perhaps one day a family might decide to raise a puppy all because I visited a school and talked to their class. This is how I pay it forward.

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