Chattahoochee Elementary School students had to let sleeping dogs lie Tuesday morning.
It was a challenge for the first-graders to focus on learning and ignore the visiting canines from the Forsyth County Humane Society. But despite a few noisy moments, the students were engaged in the lesson, largely led by volunteers from the society.
Volunteer William Buck talked with the children about approaching pets, helping them learn the signs a dog will give that they could be a danger. But first, he told the kids, always ask an owner before petting a dog or cat and never pet an unattended animal.
The society addressed the students as a way to say thanks for all the classes who adopted a dog through the Homeroom for Hounds program.
Each participating class collected donations of change in a dog bowl to help pay for the cost of a dog. Students would also get updates and weekly letters from the dog.
Silver City Elementary School also participated in the program.
At Chattahoochee, Julie Walsh’s students adopted Timber, who recently found his “forever home.”
“We decided to adopt a dog because we wanted to help take care of the dog,” said Hayden Payne, one of Walsh’s students. “It was fun.”
Lance White, president of the local humane society’s board, also attended the event. He said the program is beneficial for two reasons.
“It teaches kids how to react to stray dogs,” he said. “It also teaches them a little about volunteering and donations.”
Cindy Crane, who started Homerooms for Hounds, introduced Dudley, a three-legged dog who was once even more down on his luck.
“Someone found him on the road and he was hurt very, very badly,” she said. “So the humane society and the donations that you all give the humane society in your dog bowl, they go to help with vet costs and they were able to take care of Dudley and fix him up.
“As you can see, he is a happy and healthy dog now.”
Crane thanked the students for their work, collecting more than $300 in coins and more than $800 worth of food, toys, treats and other dog items.
Students learned about pets and the society, but the experience was also incorporated to the curriculum, Walsh said.
“In first grade, one of our goals is to be able to write a persuasive letter,” she said. “So the children wrote persuasive letters to perspective adoptive families, telling them why they should adopt Timber.”
The entire school participated in the program. White said he hopes the experience will have a lasting impression on the students.
“You’re planting the seed for the future so that they learn up-front about the humane society and about the different things,” he said.
“As they grow older, they will come to adopt from the humane society and maybe even volunteer and, most importantly, help their parents understand what’s available from the humane society.”