The Starkville, Miss. First United Methodist Church welcomed MSU-CVM’s Animals in Focus group to teach and show kids in their summer childcare program about special techniques in dealing with animals and with themselves. The kids started their day by learning some fun and interesting facts about mans best friend. Each animal was able to demonstrate a specific task that correlated with the kids own health lifestyles. The kids were first introduced to Halo, a five-year-old border collie and veterinary technician Megan Doolittle, as they performed an opening act. After introductions, the kids were split into groups and led through five different stations. Each rotation lasted 20 minutes and each station had a specific purpose in teaching the kids about health and exercise
Station one introduced how to approach a dog appropriately and tools to do this. Each child was able to participate as the leaders of this station demonstrated. First ask, then pet gently. The kids loved petting and playing with the dogs and even got to see the dogs perform tricks. One such trick was Wrigley (the dog) jumping over the kids as they were hunched on the floor. Each one wanted their turn and had Wrigley jumping all over the place. This station taught the children how to approach an animal and reminded them to ask permission from the owner before petting. The kids practiced holding out their hands to let the dogs sniff them before reaching out and petting them. They were taught how to read a dog’s body language to gauge the temperament of the pet before reaching out to touch them.
After meet and greets, the kids were led through to station two. This station consisted of teaching on the topic of dental hygiene. It taught the kids the importance of brushing one’s teeth everyday. They learned that just as they have to brush their teeth everyday, so should their dogs. It is important to keep your pet’s teeth healthy just like your own. If you don’t have the tools to do this, the kids were reminded that their local veterinarian they can do it for them.
Station three was all about comparative anatomy between a humane bone and an animal bone. Each child was shown the differences between the two and how each are fragile in their own way, but similar as well. The kids were shown how dogs have more teeth than humans and how their bones are much denser than our own.
The fourth station was all about healthy lifestyles through exercise and how doing this everyday helps one to keep up their health. This station saw Halo perform various activities with the kids including pushups, races, and jumping up and down. Halo also showed the kids how one correctly crosses the road safely, by looking both ways, before going forward. This station stressed the importance of a healthy lifestyle and how keeping that up positively affects one’s life.
The fifth and final station showed the kids how to make some healthy snacks that are good for on the go. The kids were taught about healthy eating habits for both animals and humans and were shown the difference between a healthy snack and an unhealthy snack. The kids even got to make their own bag of trail mix.
While having a good time and playing around, Animals in Focus informed kids not just about animal health, but their own health and safety as well. The kids were very attentive and had a passport-type book to bring along with them during the events. Each time they learned something new, they got a special stamp in their book. This morning was all about learning and understanding health and exercise through their animals. Just like us, animals need exercise and healthy food options.
To learn more about our Animals in Focus program, visit their website here: http://cvm.msstate.edu/animal-health-center/companion-animals/shelter-medicine/animals-in-focus