Jun 20, 2012

Of People And Dogs

I grew up in a city called Iasi. A secular city packed with historical edifices standing alongside gray communistic ghettos and belted by slumps.The city also offered plenty of parks and green untouched spots for all to enjoy. So while my parents worked long hours the city baby sat me patiently teaching me to explore and adventure. I was a Marco Polo in my own right finding my way and learning to get around without confusion or fear as if I was guided by the loving and protective hands of caregivers I never had. By the age of six I was able to visit relatives who lived in all cardinal points of the city, I could also go to my parents' workplace; a psychiatric institution located on the historical periphery and an electrical company situated on the opposite side in the city's old center.

On my treks throughout the city I befallen daily face to face and snout with stray dogs and cats roving the streets just like I was. Cats were never a problem, dogs on the other hand sure meant serious threats for they were always abused, hungry, scared and ready to attack, and dogs can be really sneaky and vicious. I always loved dogs they were my companions, play partners my protectors back then is when I discovered ways to befriend dogs of all breeds, conditions, shapes and sizes. Coming across a hungry, abused and scared homeless dog can be a daunting and painful experience which I felt on my skin and flesh a few times but instead of becoming forever afraid I learned how to avoid painful confrontations. So, when dogs come your way barking and gleaming their teeth, you must do the following: remain calm, squat and make yourself harmless, small and ready to wag just like them, pretend to have a tail.. speak in a happy, friendly voice and stretch your hand toward them with a treat or empty when dogs sniff it don't retract it even if you see signs of fear and mistrust just keep it steady make no sudden moves. When you see a tail wag you know you've got friends.

As a teacher in hard to staff and harder to teach and make friends area I've realized that the same philosophy, psychology and techniques apply to people, even more so to hard to manage youngsters. Fear perks up our senses; when afraid we hear, see, smell, touch even taste and feel with higher intensity than usual, I personally observed sight and hearing to become rather heightened in countless situations. I realized that walking for the first time in a tough classroom and standing in front of a bunch of angry, challenging, distracted, and frustrated  youngsters can be as daunting and intimidating as facing hungry and ready to bite dogs and I discovered that the same skills can save the day and make that difference.. just substitute: a smile for a stretched out hand, a knowledgeable, steady voice for the squatting and wagging, and finally a curiosity stirring, light turning lesson as a treat, and you made friends for life!

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