As well as continuing their popular ‘Be A Tree’ effort teaching children how to be safe around dogs, a dedicated group of dog trainers in Limassol has embarked on a series of other exciting programmes for the benefit of local society.
Speaking to The Cyprus Daily on behalf of the team of volunteers, programme coordinator and certified dog trainer Carole Husein said: “The first one is the Tales to Tails programme which allows children to read to dogs. This builds the child’s confidence and improves their reading and learning skills. Dogs are not judgmental and children can relax while reading to them.”
These types of programmes were popular in several countries around the world Husein noted, including the USA, Australia and the UK amongst others.
“It takes their mind of themselves and their own problems and helps build the children’s confidence,” Husein continued.
Efforts like Tales to Tails also help children, who may not otherwise have the opportunity, to interact with dogs.
There are four dogs in training with a fifth starting soon and two of these dogs have already had a training session with some young helpers to prepare them for work in schools.
The group is aiming to be ready in the New Year to start planning with organisations such as schools to commence the Tales to Tails programme.
Another effort sees the group showing children all the fun things they can do with their dogs by demonstrating simple tricks like rolling over.
“Another thing we are trying to set up in the future is a kids and dogs club and perhaps also incorporate other animals,” Husein revealed.
The younger members of society are not the only ones the group’s efforts are aimed at.
Husein said that they also hoped to go into old peoples’ homes and demonstrate dancing with dogs.
“Even if there are people who don’t want to actually touch the dogs themselves, I think this is something they would enjoy,” she said, adding that the group was also in discussion with other organisations including ones assisting people with mobility and other difficulties.
“Something else we would like to do but which I unfortunately do not see happening in Cyprus for a long time is taking dogs into hospitals and hospices. This is something that is done to great benefit to patients overseas,” Husein said.
It is worth noting that all the dogs in the programme, except for one, were rescued and mostly shelter dogs. The one that isn’t was passed on to the volunteers from a previous owner.
“Their temperament is the most important factor,” Husein revealed, adding that the dogs had to like children and all types of people and get on with each other.
The training process takes around one year and not all dogs pass the final evaluation, particularly the first time round.
“We also train them to get used to wheelchairs and Zimmer frames, to accept things that may not at first seem natural. We take them out into the streets and they learn not to jump up at people,” she added.
The group’s ultimate goal, Husein said, was “to create some sort of change,” that will help animals in Cyprus as well as children through the dogs.
“We are in Limassol now but would like to train others to take the programme to their own areas. We would also appreciate any other assistance such as in administration,” she added. Volunteers would not necessarily have to own a dog.
“Although we have some support from Cyprus Dogs Rehoming Association (CYDRA) we take care of most of the funding ourselves and are also trying to raise money to continue our efforts,” Husein said, adding: “If we all work together, we may achieve something for children, dogs and the whole community.”
If you can help, would like to find out more or would like the group to visit your school, contact Husein on 96892205.