Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Some Helpful Resources for Animal Helpers

In our troop, we have some serious animal-lovers. I discovered just how infatuated they were during a discussion for our Journey last year. We asked the girls about their heroes and role models, and not one but two named Jeff Corwin. (Which made me feel like a bit of an idiot as I'd never heard of the Animal Planet host and conservationist.)

So needless to say, when our Cadettes got hold of the new materials and saw Animal Helpers, it was the one badge they could all agree upon. So we decided to start the year off with a sure winner. (We'll also be doing Animal Habitats with our Juniors, but will have to save some of the activities for the spring.)

The activity we're most looking forward to is our guest speaker next week. A representative from C.H.A.M.P., a local assistance dog training program, will be coming to speak to the girls about how dogs are trained to assist those with disabilities and to provide emotional comfort (Activities #3 & #4). And of course, they'll be bringing some of their furry helpers to show off their skills.

There are so many worthy organizations out there like this - a quick search turned up numerous ones in our area. If you're having problems finding one, you might start with Assistance Dogs International, which has links to programs worldwide.

Here are some additional resources we came across in our planning. I was able to check out all of the following items from my local library.

Canine Heroes DVD

The first episode, which is about 20 minutes total, follows dogs in a Police Working Dogs unit in England; a dog trained to sniff out explosive substances; and Treo, who is has been recognized for outstanding bravery for his work with soldiers in Afghanistan. There is also a 2nd episode on the strength of dogs, but I personally thought it was a little too technical for our group.

125 True Stories of Amazing Animals

125 True Stories of Amazing Animals - from National Geographic
While a lot of the book focuses on "crazy animal tricks," there are also some great photos and stories of animals saving the day.

Animal Heroes: True Rescue Stories

In these heartwarming true stories, the author shows how dogs, cats, crows, monkeys and even dolphins use their normal senses or special training to help people in trouble or in need all over the world.

Unlikely Friendships

After picking this up, I realized it didn't directly relate to the badge, but it was too cute not to share. The book features short stories and photos of animals who have bonded, from Koko the gorilla and her kitten to an elephant and stray dog.

Who else out there is working on Animal Helpers this year? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments.

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