Charlie and I went on a visit to a preschool class today which is always a treat for both of us. Many of the kids in this particular class have never been around a friendly dog, and some are very afraid. When we first arrived, their teacher, Ms. Karen told them that they could go to another part of the classroom if they were afraid of Charlie. About 8 of the kids moved away. But during our visit, all but one made their way back to our group, and each of those kids stood patiently in line to pet and hug Charlie. It was a dramatic and obvious change in disposition. One of my favorite things about taking Charlie to this age group are the questions. Actually, most of the "questions" are not really questions at all. When invited to raise their hand to ask a question, they usually use the opportunity to tell me something about themselves, or make a general statement about dogs. This always cracks me up. It proves that even at a young age, we all have a need to be heard and to be validated for our thoughts and feelings.
Charlie is perfect for this work. His gentle nature is a perfect introduction to young kids to learn respect and love for animals. Those who can love and respect animals just seem to get along a little easier with other people too. It's never too late to learn this skill. You just have to be exposed to a good dog. For some people animals may be the only opportunity to experience unconditional love. If we fail to learn it from them we are missing out on a tremendous lesson.