Summer Activities For Children

FOCUS ON PETS

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The Payson Humane Society is sponsoring the Fur-Ever Friends Club this summer for children, 12 and over.

This hands-on program will provide a variety of opportunities for youngsters who are willing to commit a few hours a week. The goal of the program is to provide benefits for both the children and the dogs and cats.

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Tom Aganowski and Katie Aganowski, both 12, enjoy spending time with Buddy and Daisy. The children's mother, Lisa Murphy, encourages the young people to spend time with the dogs.

Training will be provided in several areas including dog walking, grooming and bathing, basic obedience, as well as learning about cats.

There will also be fun tasks like can crushing and painting.

Registration applications are available at the Humane Society, 812 S. McLane.

Orientation for this summer program will be held on Monday, June 7 and Saturday, June 19, at 10 a.m. Each applicant must attend one of these orientation sessions. Call Ann at 928-474-5590 for more information.

Summer vacation is a good opportunity for children to spend time with the family's pets.

Great books are available at the library covering the basics and include such things as grooming, feeding and training. Look for simple books on teaching basic obedience. The essentials are sit, down, stay, come when called and walk properly on a leash. The youngsters should enjoy reading the books and applying what they have learned.

As the children work with the dogs and the dogs begin to respond, they will be encouraged to continue. They will find that this pet is much more fun to be around when he is trained. And they will discover that the dog loves to learn if a positive approach to training is used. But most of all, the dogs love the attention.

As an incentive for the youngsters to work with their dogs, there are a couple of summer events which will allow them to show their accomplishments. The Soroptimists have a Fun Dog Show and PAWS in the Park has their annual Dog Day in the Park. Both events have games and contests for dogs and their owners.

A child unable to have a dog of his own just might be able to borrow one from the Humane Society if he spends time training and bonding with the dog during through the Fur-Ever Friends Club.

At a school assembly for third through fifth grades last week, we found that most of the students had a dog; many had cats and most claimed to love these pets and spend time with them. However, many implied that their dogs became too excited and were hard to handle which they found discouraging.

The children were very eager to learn how to teach basic manners and some fun tricks to their pets. They loved the opportunity to come up and practice on one of our dogs.

Children and dogs develop very special bonds if they have the opportunity and are encouraged to spend time together. A child sitting quietly with his dog or cat reading a book out loud helps to develop this bond. It helps the child's reading and it teaches the animal that he must sit quietly if he wants this very special attention. Both child and dog gain confidence.

Grooming is another activity that children will enjoy once they discover that they can do it. The dog should be taught to stand quietly while being groomed. Generally dogs like being brushed, so just stopping when they begin wiggling should cause them to be still. Using the words "stand" and "good stand" helps the dog understand what is expected of him. Abundant praise when he is behaving is always beneficial.

All dogs, and most cats, can benefit from a good grooming this time of year. The dogs will be happy to have some help getting rid of all that dead hair. And with the dead hair removed, the pets will be much cooler during the hot weather as air will more easily circulate through the coat.

It is essential, especially during the hot summer that all pets have easy access to fresh water. Each day the water bowls should be rinsed and refilled. It is good to have two or more bowls of fresh water around the yard in case one spills or is emptied during the day, and of course, there would be one in the house by where the dogs and cats eat.

Also during the summer, our pets need shade. Whether it be a bird in a cage, a fish in a bowl or a dog in a kennel, they must be able to get out of the direct sun. Sun shining through a window can be very hot.

Summer provides opportunities and time for children to bond with their pets and learn basic responsible pet ownership. Assistance and encouragement from adults is always beneficial. Praise for both the dogs and the youngster is the greatest motivator.

Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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