Perhaps you've noticed some staff members adorned with some new bling (no, it wasn't from Santa). The wristbands are courtesy of Laura Carlson and her wonderful organization, Tails to Teach. We are all aware that many of RI's urban schools are underserved and are lacking in resources. Tails to Teach (TTT) is a not for profit organization that uses animals to teach the very simplest of lessons.. The children in the elementary schools served by this program experience challenges that many of us fail to realize. The majority of these kids go to bed hungry each night, many worrying whether they will live long enough to reach high school. Can you imagine what that is like? Being a child, walking to school, and wondering if you're going to be caught in the crossfire of a gang shooting?
Behavioral psychologists have proven that children who are cruel to animals often grow up to commit violent, sadistic crimes. TTT goes into underserved schools, not to lecture, but to open a dialogue with the students, using Laura's two dogs, Grace and Couscous. Grace is a sweet loving Cocker Spaniel mix, always ready with a wiggy, waggy tail seeking to be loved. Couscous was found in a dumpster, dirty, ungroomed, neglected. As any of us with "rescue" dogs knows, that history can easily scar a dog, requiring a bit more patience; we need to come up with creative ways to make them feel loved.
Because dogs are natural "love mongers" Laura is able to get the children to interact with Grace and Couscous, imparting wisdom about empathy,compassion and patience, without the kids sitting at their desks being lectured to. As we've said over and over again, our friends in the animal kingdom have so much to teach us, if we simply take the time to listen. Laura, Grace Couscous and the rest of her staff are doing great work with these kids and deserve our thanks and respect . As the New Year approaches, I think we all need to find the time to become passionate about the world around us. What greater way to do that than to become a suppporter of Laura and her group. TTT depends on donations and grant money to exist. The work they are doing is vital to these children and us, for the future of our society. For more info, go to www.TailsToTeach.org.
Pictured, top to bottom, are Couscous and Grace.