“Listen to the children. See them walk their talk, Feel their passion, share their love. Their innocent eyes, Brim with possibilities, growing one dream at a time. Listen to the children.”
— Terry Kelly, Singer, Songwriter
- EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written by Tecla Metzel of Kane County Animal Control.
While most of us adults have hunkered down in our homes for the last few months watching streaming videos, cleaning the refrigerator one more time and eating brownies for one while bemoaning the fact the world has changed from face-to-face get-togethers to online “dinners” with curbside carryout, it’s been the children who have seemingly picked up the reins of leadership.
Free from the tethers of the grownup world of “no-you-can’t,” they rather will exclaim, “Why can’t we?”
Finding a need and making a decision that something needs to change, something wasn’t working the way it should or else, could be better. After all, there are people and/or animals whose lives could be enriched if only …
“If only” must have been what drove 13-year-old Frances M. of Geneva Girl Scout Troop 1384 to step forward and volunteer to pursue a Silver Award project.
A Silver Award, by the way, is the highest honor a Girl Scout cadette (a special spelling of the word “cadet” by the Girl Scouts) in either sixth, seventh or eighth grade can achieve. No small bar to set for herself, but Frances is no typical 13-year-old.
Frances implemented her project similar to how a CEO of a large company would develop a new product. Identify, build your team, develop the project and put it into motion. Are we adults taking note?
Frances knew she wanted her project to center around dogs living in a shelter environment. A shelter is not a natural atmosphere for any dog because their senses may already be heightened by fear, so she reached out to Kane County Animal Control.
It didn’t take KCAC Administrator Brett Youngsteadt long to give a thumbs up to Frances’ ideas of dog enrichment.
“If we can encourage young people to show an interest in animal care and enrichment now, then I feel like we’re setting a precedent for future generations to take a stand to protect those that can’t protect themselves.” he said. “Frances knew exactly what she wanted to do. We just helped her refine it a little bit and then she was off to the races.”
Her project was simple: engage the dogs at the shelter through indoor and outdoor stimulating projects, such as a dog wash station made with PVC piping, hooked up to a hose.
Anyone who owns a dog knows how difficult it is to give a dog a bath. More water and soap wind up on the dog owner and the floor than on the dog.
Frances’ idea was to build a frame large enough for most dogs to walk into. Water then sprays down onto the dog from the drilled holes in the top pipe of the frame. When the water is turned on, a gentle shower sprays the dog. It feels so good, they never realize they’re actually getting clean until the shampoo rub begins.
Her ideas for enrichment didn’t end there.
Again, using PVC piping, she built a food dispensing toy with recycled plastic milk bottles. The bottles were hung on the top PVC pipe so they could easily swing upside down.
Placing a few treats into each bottle, a dog could eventually figure out that if he/she nosed or swiped at the bottle, it would swing downward where food would then fall onto the ground. A reward for learning new trick!
Frances also made cloth dog toys to help shelter dogs feel less alone and give them something to keep boredom at bay, as well as treat tubes also made from PVC.
Holes were drilled into the plastic tubes and capped at both ends. The dogs could carry them around, toss them into the air or roll them across the floor. If they were successful, small treats would emerge from the holes. What a win-win situation!
The upshot of all of Frances’ hard work is that there are now dogs at KCAC a little bit happier, a little bit more engaged than they were prior to her implementing her Silver Award vision.
Congratulations on your award, Frances! We look forward to following your career as you continue to change the world a little bit at a time!
Want to know more about Frances M.’s Silver Award project or how to make your own enrichment toys for your dog? Just go to KaneCountyPets.com and click on the “Animal Welfare” tab. Under the Enrichment heading is a link to Frances’ Silver Award Poject.
SOURCE: KCAC news release