The book was perfect for showing dogs in a wide variety of situations: happy, fearful, angry, eating, sleeping, working, tied up or looking after puppies. It helped me explain to the kids they must ask Can I pat that dog? permission from a carer, the dog’s owner AND the dog before approaching it – even if the dog seems happy!
I divided my talk into three parts:
- How to approach a dog
- How to look after a dog
- Dog training and tricks.
Having used the book for part 1, I introduced my dear old, black Labrador, Harry, and demonstrated how to look after a dog: walking, brushing and feeding him (Harry liked that part), playing games with him, and picking up his doggy doo (the kids weren’t so keen on that!).
It has to be said, the final part of my talk was the most fun for the kids. I had trained Harry for eight years at my local dog training club, he was well settled and we had a good kit bag of tricks to show off. Judging by the cheering, the crowd favourite was the flag race, where Harry and my son raced each other to fetch three flags. My son never lost a race, but Harry was such a good dog, I often wondered if he let my son win (as I did as a soft dad!).
The talk proved so popular that I ran it twice at the child care centre and then for several years as a school holiday program at Sydney’s Centennial Parklands. I also wrote about the experience and posted it to my dog club’s website, on my blog and recently on TallAndTrue.com.
And I have kept in contact with the director of the child care centre, and she tells me the copy of Can I Pat That Dog? I gifted them after my visit sits in their library and they still use it to talk to kids about the safe way to approach dogs.
What a lovely legacy for the authors and illustrator of this wonderful book!
© 2018 Robert Fairhead
NB. You might also be interested in this blog post featuring my dear old Harry in a Santa hat, A Dog is not just for Xmas (December 2017).
Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of a middle-aged dad and dog owner. Robert Fairhead is writer and editor at Tall And True, an online showcase and forum for writers, readers and publishers. His book reviews and other writing have appeared in various print and online media. And he has published two collections of short stories, Both Sides of the Story (2020) and Twelve Furious Months (2021).