Sunday, 10 October 2021 18:26

A visit with Penny the beagle

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     As we finished celebrating the color brown, my dogs, Penny and Ivy came to visit Kindergarten.  Several weeks before, Penny, a beagle, had had surgery to remove a tumor.  As a result, she now has three legs--two front and one back.  I had shared this at news time, and several Kindergartners asked questions about why, how could she walk, could she come to school to visit?  It is normal for children this age to be both curious and afraid of body differences that involve differently formed or missing body parts or different ways of moving.  I thought a visit from Penny might be a good way for the children to begin to be more comfortable with these types of differences. 

     On the afternoon of the visit, my partner brought the dogs to the playground to meet us.  On our way up to the playground, a couple children who usually are at the lead, hung back with me.  One of them confided, "We're both a little afraid about seeing a dog with three legs."  I explained that many people feel that way and reminded them that they could go to close to see Penny or stay as far away as they wanted.  I reassured them that although Penny might look different, her body doesn't hurt her now. 

     Some of the children were interested in petting the dogs, and some were not.  A group of interested Younger Groupers joined us to visit the dogs.  Several of the children took turns walking Penny. The two children who hung back with me did get close to Penny, and one of them even took a turn walking her around the playground.  The other asked if Penny could come back, so she could have a turn to walk her, when she is more used to her.  Penny, who loves to be petted and to walk around sniffing things, thoroughly enjoyed herself and is looking forward to a return visit.   

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