An A‑May-zing Month for Animals

By Maryann Henck

I like to think of May as one of the most amaz­ing months – not only because it’s Nation­al Pet Month, but also because May 20 is Nation­al Res­cue Dog Day in the Unit­ed States. Let’s face it: Pets are so much more than just cute com­pan­ions – they are fluffy fam­i­ly and friends as well as end­less sources of com­fort, joy, and hope. But what about all those ani­mals out there who don’t have a human to look after them, love them back, and maybe even save them from hor­ri­ble fates?

As Nation­al Res­cue Dog Day approach­es this week, it’s time to raise aware­ness for all the abused and aban­doned dogs on the streets as well as in shel­ters and sanc­tu­ar­ies – not only in the U.S. but also all over the world. In 2018, Lisa Wiehe­brink – children’s book author and Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Tails that Teach – estab­lished Nation­al Res­cue Dog Day in the Unit­ed States to hon­or all those brave res­cue dogs and their equal­ly hero­ic res­cuers. If you’re an ele­men­tary school teacher, Tails that Teach offers books that help chil­dren learn about kind­ness and com­pas­sion towards ani­mals. If you are a high school teacher or uni­ver­si­ty instruc­tor of Eng­lish as a Sec­ond Lan­guage, you might want to try out my teach­ing tool, which was inspired by Niall Harbison’s mis­sion to save 10,000 street dogs in Thai­land a month.

Res­cue Me – Time for Some Dog Tails

Niall Har­bi­son with Rod­ney, McMuf­fin, and King Whack­er (from left to right)
Pho­to cred­it: Niall Harbison

To cre­ate this spe­cif­ic teach­ing tool, I watched short videos on Niall’s Insta­gram account in which he doc­u­ment­ed the dogs’ amaz­ing trans­for­ma­tion at his sanc­tu­ary and his quest to find them “for­ev­er homes.” I select­ed sev­er­al sanc­tu­ary dogs and cre­at­ed a Padlet to which I uploaded their pic­tures with a brief text as a writ­ing prompt (e.g., King Whack­er – I’m a snack­er). If you’re feel­ing more old-school, just print out pic­tures of the dogs with prompts and hang these up in the class­room. Of course, you are free to choose your cur­rent favorite dog hero and their res­cues for the task. The objec­tive is not only to help stu­dents per­fect their writ­ing skills, but also to engen­der empa­thy by allow­ing them to put them­selves into some­one else’s paws.

And now with­out fur­ther ado, you will find the direc­tions to “Res­cue Me – Time for Some Dog Tails” as well as some heart-warm­ing writ­ing sam­ples. Enjoy and don’t for­get to do your part on Nation­al Res­cue Dog Day, which should be every day!

It’s time to shift to the pooch per­spec­tive and raise aware­ness for res­cue dogs. For our writ­ing task, I’ve cho­sen dogs from Niall Harbison’s res­cue mis­sion in Thai­land. Now it’s your turn to become a res­cuer and find a for­ev­er home for one of these dogs. 1) Choose one dog. 2) Write a let­ter of moti­va­tion from the dog’s per­spec­tive to a prospec­tive person/family to give them a for­ev­er home. 3) Cre­ate as many details as pos­si­ble about the dog’s sad life as a street dog, their moment of res­cue, and their hopes for a bet­ter life.

Rod­ney – from aban­doned lit­tle pup­py to the dog who lived

Pho­to cred­it: Niall Harbison
Pho­to cred­it: Niall Harbison











“A Tail of Two Doggies”

By Maryann Henck

Dear Dog Lovers,

My tail is a tail of two dog­gies. Once upon a time, I was a lit­tle dog in Thai­land with no name, no fam­i­ly, and no hope. It seems like nobody loves you when you’re down and out and are no longer as cute as a but­ton. I’m the only sur­vivor in my fam­i­ly – my mom, my broth­ers, and my sis­ters all died in an acci­dent. I wan­dered the streets for weeks in search of food, a safe place to sleep, and a bel­ly rub. But humans just shooed me away or kicked me, so I decid­ed to hide from them. They always looked at me like I was some kind of mon­ster – my fur­less body full of boo-boos and sad eyes that scared them away or made them angry.

One day, a big human found me shiv­er­ing and ready to take my last breath. His name was Niall, and he nursed me back to health and stayed by my side for days on end. Once I was on the mend, Niall told me that I was an Inter­net sen­sa­tion and a poster pup­py for res­cue dogs. I didn’t know what that meant, but it sound­ed good. He told me I had fol­low­ers all over the world who saw hope in me, who called me a sur­vivor, who said I was “the dog who lived” – the dog­gie ver­sion of that mag­ic human Har­ry Pot­ter. But most impor­tant­ly, Niall made me believe in myself again. Soon I was liv­ing the life of a real pup­py with a real dog dad who would feed me, play with me, teach me to swim, and take me for walkies on the beach. I promised I would nev­er leave my res­cuer dad’s side.

But, one day, Niall told me that I was no longer Lit­tle Rod­ney but Big Rod­ney. Sud­den­ly, I was a big boy even though I still felt like a baby. My dog dad said it was time for me to go on adven­tures and find a for­ev­er home, but I couldn’t imag­ine being sep­a­rat­ed from him. But as the days went by, I noticed all the respon­si­bil­i­ty Niall took on him­self to save as many street dogs as pos­si­ble. There are only a few rooms in his dog sanc­tu­ary, and there are so many more Rod­neys out there in need of help. So maybe it’s time for set­ting out on an adven­ture and get­ting to the see the world.

So, all you dog lovers out there, here I am: gold­en boy Rod­ney, 13 kilos floofy with but­ton-like brown eyes and a fur­ry stripe down my back. I love to go for morn­ing runs, mid­day swims, and evening walks. But, please, don’t try to play fetch with me – I don’t like any of those ball sports. I’ll be your loy­al friend and foot warmer for life if you give me lit­tle good­ies and bel­ly rubs. I’m a quick learn­er, too. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I’m still young and real­ly want to go to dog­gy school. I’m attach­ing a pic­ture to show what a good boy I am and hope you’ll give me the chance in life I deserve.

Paws & licks, Rodney

Lady – I’m a good girl

Pho­to cred­it: Niall Harbison

“The Lady of the Mud Baths”

By Char­li­na Strelow

Dear Read­er,

Thank you for tak­ing the time to lis­ten. Please be patient with me. Some­times, I still strug­gle to find the right words. I’m not used to hav­ing an audi­ence. Or hav­ing any­one inter­est­ed in me, for that mat­ter. Well, except for that nice man. He named me Lady.

LADY. L‑A-D‑Y. Can you believe that? He saw me sit­ting in the trash, dig­ging for any­thing even remote­ly edi­ble, my fur as gray as a dead dove. Still, he thought me lady­like. Me! What an hon­or that was.

It’s impor­tant for me to be hon­est with you. I’m sure you don’t want to hear the sad facts, do you? I also wish my life had gone dif­fer­ent­ly. But I need to be upfront. I’ve been adopt­ed once before, and they brought me back. They told me they loved me, they let me get used to them for five weeks (and three days and 7½ hours), and then they’d sim­ply had enough. They believed I’d be com­posed at all times, like a lady. But I couldn’t be. I get night ter­rors about twice a week. I’m afraid of bal­loons and hors­es. I’m deeply, deeply afraid of humans who wear red shoes. I’d rather not talk about that. Sorry.

But I’m also the world’s best cud­dler. I enjoy play­ing with kids and am good at keep­ing them safe. I love run­ning in the rain, I love play­ing fetch, I love the first air of spring when the flow­ers begin to bloom. My favorites are daisies.

If you adopt me, I can­not promise it will always be easy. Ever since I’ve been returned, I have trou­ble trust­ing peo­ple, trou­ble ful­ly unleash­ing the warmth I’m capa­ble of. But if you just give me a lit­tle bit of time, I will love you unconditionally.

I am Lady. A sharp, brave, loy­al Lady. A sharp, brave, loy­al Lady who enjoys her mud baths.

Moritz – I’m a good boy

Pho­to cred­it: Niall Harbison

“The Bestest Boy”

By Nina Preußler

Dear For­ev­er Home People,

My name is Moritz and I’ve been look­ing for a home for as long as I can remem­ber. I was born into a nice fam­i­ly. I espe­cial­ly liked their daugh­ter who was always so nice to me! I did my best to be a good pup­py, but in the end it wasn’t enough. The fam­i­ly couldn’t afford to have so many pup­pies (I had 7 sib­lings!), so they left me in the street one after­noon. I thought they had just for­got­ten to take me with them, so I barked as loud as I could, but no one came for me.

For a while, the streets were my home. I was always hun­gry. I tried real­ly hard to make friends, going up to oth­er dogs to play and cud­dle, but they always growled at me. One of them even bit my tail! I didn’t have much more suc­cess with peo­ple. I hoped that some­one would come and pet me (I wait­ed on my usu­al cor­ner, sit­ting up straight, wag­ging my tail and look­ing at them excit­ed­ly), but once they saw me, they took a step to the side.

But one day (prob­a­bly my low point, I hadn’t eat­en for a few days and my pos­ture began to slip), I got lucky. A very nice man named Niall approached me. He gave me some­thing to eat and then let me go home with him. He nursed me back to health, and I got to meet a lot of nice dogs. I’m so, so grate­ful for every­thing Niall has done for me, but now I think I should find a new place to stay so that I won’t be a bur­den for him. I know I’m a lot to take, but I hope you will decide to let me into your home. I’m very well-behaved, I can sit still by your side for HOURS, unless you are in dan­ger – then I’ll pro­tect you with my life. I have very sharp teeth and can bark real­ly loud! I’m also the best at play­ing fetch – I can run real­ly fast and car­ry a stick in my mouth for min­utes with­out drop­ping it. When you put me on the leash, I promise to nev­er pull and always be ready for your com­mands. Every time you come home, I’ll be wait­ing for you. When­ev­er you’re feel­ing sad, I’ll be there to cud­dle you. I’ll lick my bowl clean and nev­er ever poop on the side­walk. If you pick me, I promise I’ll be the bestest boy of all time for you!

Love, Moritz

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Maryann Henck is a blog edi­tor. Find her bio here.

While Char­li­na likes her major, cul­tur­al stud­ies, as a whole, she’s most pas­sion­ate about lit­er­a­ture. Cur­rent­ly, she’s try­ing to read one book from every coun­try in the world. So far, her favorites are from Turkey, India, and Vietnam.

Nina Preußler is a stu­dent of Glob­al Envi­ron­men­tal and Sus­tain­abil­i­ty Stud­ies at Leuphana Uni­ver­si­ty Lüneb­urg, a pas­sion­ate bad­minton play­er and a qui­et lan­guage enthu­si­ast. Their lat­est inter­ests include learn­ing Man­darin and becom­ing bet­ter at doing nothing.