Higgins had a great time with the kids at the Pine library for the final week of the Summer Reading Program. The theme, Get A Clue, offered the opportunity for the kids to get a clue card and ask Higgins to do what was listed on the card. The clues included jumping through hoops, jumping over a variety of objects, bowing, standing on his hind legs, making a circle around them, spinning and other tasks. Each child wore a clicker around his/her neck and when performed the task, they clicked and then gave Higgins a treat. Higgins loved it.
We talked about the responsibilities of owning a pet such as the need for food, water, exercise, training and companionship. Most of the children who had a dog said they spent a fair amount of time playing with them. Some played tug games, some played tag and some just threw the ball, which provides great exercise. Hide and seek is also a great game for children and dogs. Someone holds the dog while the child goes to hide. Then the dog is released and normally, will find the child in short order. It is fun for all. These games give the dog exercise, challenge his brain a bit and help build a great relationship between child and pet.
After the program, Higgins thought he was entitled to a hot dog along with the kids, but that did not happen. He received plenty of treats, however.
Myrna Tipps, education coordinator for the Payson Humane Society, talked with the kids about what the humane society does for stray and unwanted pets. They asked her questions and she answered them. She talked about the importance of having proper identification on the dog's collars so that if they should get lost, they can find their way home again. She mentioned, that pets should be spayed and neutered, so that they would not have puppies and kittens. There are already more puppies and kittens than loving families to take them. She handed out some workbooks with lots of information about caring for pets. She also handed out a bookmark with ten ways for children to stay safe around dogs and cats.
These 10 important points are:
1. Stay away from an angry or frightened pet, even your own.
2. Never go near a stray dog or cat.
3. If a stray dog comes up to you, stay calm and stand still. Do not run and do do not look at the dog. Wait until it is gone to move. 4. Always ask the owner if it is OK to pet a dog or cat you don't know.
5. Be gentle when petting a dog or cat. Lightly stroke its back and neck, avoiding the eyes and ears.
6. Never hit, kick or spank a dog or cat, pull its tail, or otherwise harm it. It may try to hurt you.
7. Play gently with your pet. Stop playing if your pet gets too rough.
8. Leave dogs and cats alone while they're eating and sleeping.
9. Never try to take food or treats away from a dog or cat, even as a joke.
10. Avoid newborn puppies or kittens. The mother may fight to protect her babies.
The list ends with this valuable sentence. "Dogs and cats are wonderful friends, so always treat them with respect."
The Payson Humane Society, Higgins and many other dogs in the area love to do these children's programs. Call for more information.
There will be a Rally workshop from 8 to 11 a.m. tomorrow, Saturday, August 4, in Rumsey Park, at the grass ball field, just across from the Payson Library and next to the Off-Leash Dog Park.
Two courses will be set up, a beginner level and a more advanced course. Troy Ballard will be there from Phoenix to help and instruct. The beginner course is done on leash and the advanced course can be done either on- or off-leash, depending on the comfort level of the handler.
Spectators are invited to come watch this fairly new dog sport, which is a combination of obedience and agility. Bring your dog and give it a try. Troy would be very happy to offer help as needed.
An optional donation of $5.00 will help defray the cost of the facility. Some of Troy's students from the Valley will be here practicing for a Rally event in California later in the month. Everyone is welcome to run the course.
-- Christy Powers is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry AZ 85544.