Students learn empathy through guide dog visit
GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) — North Mianus students learned a fun lesson about diversity — and empathy — when a seasoned guide dog and a puppy-in-training visited the school.
Alan Gunzburg, a regular at North Mianus who helps during math lessons, with his guide dog, Kili, in tow, visited the school Friday morning with Patty Doyle, a volunteer puppy-raiser and her new pooch, Moppet. The children asked Gunzburg and Doyle questions about the guide dogs and got a chance to pet Kili, who laid still, and Moppet, who was in a playful mood, chomping on a bone and a chew toy.
A number of students with special needs are integrated into the classroom, kindergarten teacher Valeri Caro said. Such presentations by Gunzburg, who has a disability, and Doyle, whose work raising dogs supports others with disabilities, helps students understand more about diversity, she said.
“It is good, in kindergarten, to see these kinds of differences,” she said.
First-grader Ella Hayes said she learned that whenever she sees a dog she would like to pet, she must first ask the owner.
Guide dogs are important because “they help people who need help,” said Ella, who has a half-beagle, half-pug at home.
Guide dogs have been around for 90 years, but the relationship between dogs and their masters has changed significantly over the decades, Gunzburg said.
Back then, the animals obeyed because men were men and dogs were dogs, he said.
“Now, it’s because I have treats,” he said. “It has changed the whole dynamic.”
Raising the dogs is easy, and volunteers who want to join the effort are not required to have owned a dog in the past, Doyle said. She volunteers through Guiding Eyes, a New York-based organization that is always looking for more volunteers and puppy raisers, she said.
Information from: Greenwich Time, http://www.greenwichtime.com