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
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
“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
“The Lady of the Mud Baths”
By Charlina Strelow
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
“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!
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