Charley and Gus have turned into quite a tag team. Just as amazing as their work at the UCLA candlelight vigil and at Camp JPAC was their visit with a group of 27 sixth graders from Emerson Elementary School in Compton, California. The kids were part of the Bullying Intervention Program, backed by UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, L.A. county board of supervisors 2nd district and the Compton Unified School district.
ELBEE I hate to break the mood, but I am sick and tired of being left out. I’m going to have a heart to heart with Pack Leader and make sure she shares my fabulous accomplishments. And is it so bad that I like to work alone? I’m a star.
The students were on a special field trip to UCLA. With their bus caught in the usual L.A. morning traffic, they were all a little stressed when they finally got to campus. That changed when the Doods pranced into the room. The mood turned to enthusiasm and positive excitement. When I looked around, all I saw were smiling faces. They were sweet, gentle and very polite as they petted and hugged the dogs. I heard later that the visit with Charley and Gus had set the tone for the entire day.
The kids listened intently as I talked to them about the People Animal Connection and the work of therapy dogs. They asked questions and told me about their pets. As I moved around the room, one little boy whispered that his sister had autism and that they were going to get a dog to help her.
They all looked surprised when I told them that Charley had been bullied. I explained that as big as he was, when we walked by a Starbucks in the neighborhood, small dogs would often lunge at him from under the tables and bark at him. They nodded in understanding when I said that he was afraid to go by. They seemed proud of Charley when I added that he had learned to handle it by ignoring them and walking away.