When You’re Smiling

I saw the sweetest thing in the park today.  At the Hans Christian Anderson stature where they normally have storytelling, there was a group of teens teaching little ones how to safely approach and pet a dog.

Kids will either trounce an animal thinking it’s stuffed, or hide behind their mom or dad quite often in tears.

This group was no more than 4, the youngest 2, all seated on tiny pastel tuffets while six well behaved pups sat in a row, facing them.

There was a golden retriever, a black lab, a collie, beagle, French bulldog and a chihuahua all wearing their ‘On Duty’ vests.  They’re what you call wellness dogs, trained to go to hospitals and old-age homes, to uplift and soothe the troubled.   images-3  images-1 images Not every puppy makes the cut.  You have to have a certain amount of self-control and tolerance to be around the sick and elderly just in case one pulls your tail by mistake.

I sat on a bench watching.

A pretty girl with blonde braids said, “Do we all know how to smile?” Some said yes, a few nodded, and one little guy went to sleep.

“That’s the first thing you do when you a meet a four-legged friend.  Let’s try it.  I’ll count to three and we’ll all smile…okay?”

Don’t you know they all grinned like miniature imps right on cue.  Why wasn’t someone video taping this since it gave cute all new meaning.

Becka then called over Loretta, the golden retriever, who looked like a Breck girl the way her fur picked up the sun.  She sat like such a lady as Becka stroked her saying over and over again…gentle, gentle before going into her safety speech…and I’ll paraphrase.

When you first meet a dog, after you smile at him, even if it’s one you know, you don’t pet it right away.  Instead, you open your palm like this (demonstrates), so the dog can sniff, seeing you’re a friend.  It becomes his decision, and unless he’s Charlie Manson with paws, knows right away you mean it no harm (yes, I tossed in the Manson line).

Each one got to try it out.  One particular kid was a bit nervous and couldn’t quite bring himself to open his hand for Toby the beagle who finally just said, fuck it, breaking the ice by licking his cheek.  The look on his face was priceless, breaking into an even bigger grin once the shock wore off.

Another tiny creature named Annabel became besotted with Ivy, the French bulldog.  I wish you could have heard her giggles every time Ivy sniffed then licked her hand.  I smiled so much my jaws hurt.

Then, to my delight because I know him, Harvey, the Saint Bernard showed up.

“Sorry we’re late,” said Bill, his owner, “we were at the groomer’s.” Evidently this was Harvey’s first day on the job so he wanted to look his best.  The size of Montana, when he got in line knocked over Enrico the chihuahua who I must say, took it like a gentleman.

Annabel, who was so brave a few minutes before, backed up like a Chevy when she saw Harvey.  The instructor explained how it’s okay that dogs come in all sizes.  One needn’t be afraid.  On cue Harvey woofed, his six pals echoing, turning into back-up singers.

I never saw anything quite as dear, not to mention smart.  So many kids grow up fearful of dogs.  I see it often.  They’re man’s best friend after all, and age shouldn’t be a factor.

What was that Harvey, size shouldn’t be either?  I’m sure every basketball player in the NBA would agree.

Woof.      images-6



About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
This entry was posted in animals, Family, friendship, humor, kids, Love, New York City, parents and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to When You’re Smiling

  1. micklively says:

    It’s a great idea and I’m happy you and they had a good outing. But I wonder if it’s not doomed. How many children of parents who are scared of dogs attended? They’re the ones who really need the education.


  2. skinnyuz2b says:

    Bravo, to whomever thought of doing this! What a great idea. I’m glad you got to witness and share this.


  3. Elle Knowles says:

    I don’t remember being taught that and also didn’t teach my children, although they are all animal lovers. I think a session at all schools should be mandatory for K – 12. Loved this post Susannah! ~Elle

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Loved this! This is the perfect age to start “puppy love” with kids. That open hand approach is so important. Even my husband, who had a dog, always goes to pat the head with his hand open and downward. A scared dog would think he is getting hit. This training should be required in kindergarten.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beverly Giangiacomo says:

    That’s a wonderful story! It tops some of those from the Carlyle adventures!


    • I better jazz up the Carlyle then…I know you like those 🙂


      • Beverly Giangiacomo says:

        It’s not that the Carlyle stories aren’t good…they just don’t warm the heart like children and puppies and kind people who bring the two together do. It’s a different side of our lives that comes out at the Carlyle…some of that is sad and some is just fun to view through your eyes…that’s what this whole blog is about …your view….and each of us loves it!


      • I’m happy you read whatever I write so often. I’m always humbled Beverly, truly 🙂


  6. That did me good to read, Susannah. It’s amazing how therapeutic animals can be. They have puppies on campus during exam weeks so stressed out students can go play with them and relax a little.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This was fantastic, Susannah. I love the photo of the little boy smiling down at the dog in the vest. That photo tells the story best of what this day was all about. Love.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a wonderful idea, it’s a shame this kind of thing can’t be taught in school.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.