Wednesday 5 October 2011

Glen and Kale visit the Brownies

Brownies are part of the girl guiding group aimed at junior members ranging from 7 to 10 years old, they meet in church halls and village halls and have fun whilst learning about all aspects of life. The learning is made fun for them by working towards gaining badges and one particular group of Brownies were working towards their 'Friends to Animals' badge and somehow Shep found herself involved!

Squeals of "I don't like children" went unheard as Brown Owl (the adult leader of the 'pack') happened to be a relation and quietly explained that the little brownies needed to find out about working animals such as guide dogs or horses.
"I don't have a guide dog or a horse" I exclaimed,
"But you do have working dogs!" came the reply.

So it was then, date arranged and Shep trotted off to our local market town to introduce old Glen and young Kale to the Brownies.

I have to say, I had given the evening little thought, other than chewing my finger nails I really hadn't come up with anything constructive other than I was to arrive at the church hall at the allocated time with some dogs in tow. Public speaking is not a strong point of mine, neither is children, but at least I would have the dogs for company.

I had decided to take two. Glen is a huge softy and would be loved by all the kids of that there was no doubt. Moss can be an unreliable character and it would probably be wiser to leave him at home. Young Kale I thought would help show the difference between an older, mature fully trained dog and the younger, enthusiastic beast still learning the ropes, he is used to children and ought not be any bother. So the two of them were bundled into the car and to the South Tyne we headed.

I had been asked if there was anything I required. A mop and bucket was my answer. Dogs are dogs, they do like to leave their mark where ever they go and I could imagine puddles all over the place if they got their chance.

We arrived in plenty of time and I let them wander around the cars which were parked up, encouraging them to water every wheel they passed in the hope their bladders would be empty by the time we entered the building. Neither of the dogs are used to towns, I don't think any of them have ever walked on pavements and they're also not used to having access to buildings other than our cottage and farm buildings. I knew nothing would phase old Glen but wondered what Kale would think of being invited into a strange building.

Our time arrived and in we went. Both dogs on leads and Kale taking everything in his stride, you would think walking in to church was an every day occurrence. We trotted along the three of us, finding our way down hallways until the meeting room came into sight. I noticed as I looked through the doorway that there were about a score (20) youngsters all sitting cross legged on the floor in a half circle waiting eagerly for us to enter. The expressions on their faces soon changed, as did mine!

Kale started to bark. I reassured him and stepped into the hall and he barked even louder and wanted to back off and head for home at the same time - oh dear! My first question to the Brownies was "how many of you are frightened of dogs?" an awful lot of hands seemed to shoot up in the air - great start!

I don't know about Kale being out of his comfort zone but I was definitely heading out of mine at a great rate of knots! Wise old Glen was taking it all in, trying to sum up which child would be willing to show him affection whilst Kale and I found ourselves frozen to the spot.

We eventually got ourselves to the stage which was the area the Brownies had sat around and were facing towards, I plonked my backside on the stage and got Kale to jump up beside me whilst Glen was left lying at my feet. From this elevated angle Kale had a better view of the proceedings and grumbled and growled.

I know the dog, there was no malice, he was uncomfortable in the situation he had found himself, he wanted to retreat and head for something familiar, a feeling I myself know only too well. But we couldn't, we had to weather the storm so to speak.

I explained to the youngsters that Kale was a young dog used to big wide open spaces and where as they might cry when they got a fright he would bark. I'm not sure they believed me but we muddled on. I soon realised the children were getting bored, my ramblings were slowly sending them to sleep so I asked them if they would like to come forward and meet the dogs, they willingly accepted the offer and to my amazement equal numbers went to meet both dogs. I was well aware that Kale and I were still on the stage which meant the dog was at face height with the children, I kept a gentle hold of his muzzle but he was fine, more than pleased to have all these friendly girls stroke, pat and talk to him - phew!

On being re seated I asked the Brownies if they were still frightened of Kale, a wave of relief came over me when they all answered in unison "no". Kale was also no longer uncomfortable in his surroundings. We had overcome one hurdle, just another 20minutes to go.

I have to say, the brownies impressed me, they asked some very sensible questions and came up with some sound answers. For instance, when I asked them why my dogs don't wear a collar one girl who put her hand up asked if it was in case they got stuck on something, which was quite correct, I have always been bothered that a dog may get it's collar stuck on a fence or such like and so they have never worn one. With hindsight it may have been easier from the off set to have asked them to ask questions rather than have me blundering on with a script I was grasping out of thin air.

Glen who had been lying at my feet had stealthily gone on wander about, quietly singling out a child he thought looked like fair game and sure enough, in no time, he was lying on his back, all four feet in the air and getting his tummy tickled. This gave me a great opportunity to give him the 'that'll do whistle' calling him back to me followed by the lie down whistle which he duly obeyed - he really is a little gem!

Our time was up, Glen, Kale and I departed, there had been no accidents the mop and bucket weren't needed, Kale had settled but was willing to leave, Glen would have preferred to stay and Shep was more than happy to beat a hasty retreat. Interesting evening though!