Back in February another raiser was asked if he knew of anyone who would be interested in doing programs for some elementary school kids. Since I do a lot of programs, primarily with kids, he asked me if I was interested. I thought the whole day might be a little overwhelming for Joe and me, so we asked another wonderful former raiser (and Joe’s mom’s host mom) to do one of the sessions. So about a month or so ago, Joe and I attended career day at an elementary school right down the road. They were having career day and field day on the same day and the theme of both of them was disability awareness. For field day they played several games where they somewhat got to experience a different disability. For career day they invited 4 different people who worked with people with different disabilities; I believe there was an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, someone who works with the deaf, and then there was us. Wendy and Lexie (Joe’s sister who was borrowed for the day) did the morning session with the 3rd-5th graders. Joe and I did the afternoon session with the K-2nd graders.
We did 12 short programs with only about a minute in between each group. The kids were great and had some pretty good questions for being so young! Joe decided he would take a nap during the second group and just barely opened his eyes when a group would come or go. I only had a short time with each group so I made sure to tell them what I did, what Joe did and what Joe will hopefully do as a guide dog. I also told them the most important thing, when you see a dog out in a store or restaurant who has a coat or harness on is you don’t pet them, you don’t talk to them or do anything that might distract them. If that is the only thing they remember it would be well worth my time!
Joe did great with walking through the halls of the school with all the kids in the hall and he seemed to enjoy his time there. The guidance counselor (who had invited us and set everything up) was extremely nice and was very interested in the whole guide dog program. Joe and I talked to over 250 kids along with their teachers. We were by far the favorite speaker at career day!
Fast forward to this past Monday, Joe and I were at Costco picking up some stuff with my mom. I hear two little girls say “look there is a guide dog” then I hear “mom look it is a guide dog and that is the girl.” I looked at the two girls and tried to remember if I am supposed to know who they are. Their mom asked if I had been to such and such elementary school (the same school that Joe and I went for career day). I said yes, that would be us. The mom then turned to the two girls and said you can go say hi to the doggy. One of the girls who was probably only in first grade turned to her mom and said “you can’t pet him because he is wearing his blue coat and that means he is working.” I was so proud of that little girl for remembering the most important thing I said the entire program! It is somewhat sad when kids have to correct their parents for trying to pet a service dog.
Joe and I get to do another program in a few weeks for our local library. I do at least one library program a year and I have been told that it is the fastest program to fill up of all the programs they have.