Puppies! What happens when those we care for start caring for others?
The answer? Amazing things!
Eight of our girls were given the opportunity to care for puppies who are less fortunate. What a treat it was to see!
From fear to joy
There was great excitement when eight girls from the Durbanville Children’s Home, aged between 10 and 14, got into our vehicle on their way to the Underdog Project in Hout Bay. Some of the girls were scared of dogs, while some have never had the opportunity to play with a dog. A few had vague memories of their own dogs back home.
The Underdog Project is an animal-assisted therapy project that assists at-risk youth in overcoming social and emotional problems. They train shelter dogs, since a trained dog has a better change of being adopted.
Our girls were taught how to interact with the dogs, how to give them treats, and how to train the pups to sit on command.
We could see the girls growing more and more confident. At first some were too scared to go near a puppy; yet soon they would sit on the ground next to their four-legged friends, grooming them. When it was time to go, they didn’t want to leave their puppy.
Our girls had such a good experience. They were proud to have trained a puppy which now stood a better chance of being adopted.
All the way home the girls chatted non-stop. Adoption was a big part of the discussion. One girl said: “It’s just like a children’s home for dogs.”
The girls grew attached to the dogs and for some it was hard to leave the puppy behind. One girl said: “I know what that feels like.” Another girl wanted to know whether she could ever be adopted, which paved the way for a meaningful discussion.
There were special-needs dogs, like a blind one and one with three legs, which added to the experience.
Most of our children come from environments where they had not experienced nurturing and love. The interaction with the animals boosted their self-esteem as they experienced the unconditional love that an animal has for a human being.
One girl said the channels were “peaceful” despite all the barking.