Abby sat perfectly still for the curious child. As a dog ambassador for PAWS, she was used to visiting students and receiving attention. But instead of the usual boisterous hugs and pats, these hands slowly explored her floppy ears, graying muzzle and the pads of her paws, ending at the tip of her curly tail. Suddenly the camper exclaimed, "She's beautiful!" He had felt her beauty.
This summer, PAWS had the unique and wonderful opportunity to be a part of summer camp at the Louis Braille School, which serves sight-impaired children with special challenges. With the use of wildlife artifacts, recorded sounds, scented props and hands-on activities, PAWS' humane educators presented a customized experience for the campers to learn about animals, their environment and how to help.
The campers' willingness to explore everything was inspiring. Whether using pipe cleaner "whiskers" to understand how a cat feels his way around, or dipping their hands in a shallow pool of water to forage for things a Raccoon may eat, every activity was met with enthusiasm and joy. Students smiled as a pair of Great Horned Owl wings breezed by them, fanned by PAWS' educators. As the students touched these wing artifacts many exclaimed, "Wow, I can't believe how big an owl can be!" Faces also lit up as they recognized sounds of ducks quacking, songbirds chirping and Abby barking.
The young campers were especially delighted to make toys and enrichment items for PAWS' shelter cats and wildlife patients. One boy shared that during the entire two-week summer camp, his favorite activity was helping the animals.
While PAWS was there to teach these kids, we left having learned a lesson of our own: If we could all take time to enjoy life's moments thoroughly with heightened senses and compassionate hearts as these children clearly do, what a beautiful world we would see.