The Next Generation

January 8, 2013  

Will the next generation be one that realizes that all dogs are individuals?

By Kirstyn Northrop Cobb

The other day, my daughter, Aubrey, was outside in the neighborhood. She saw a woman walking her two pit bulls down the street, and my daughter went up to her and asked to pet them. After getting the okay, she spent some time with them, and then came home where she told me all about the super cute wiggly pit bulls that she just befriended. In my home, this is nothing new. My daughter doesn’t discriminate based on appearance; after all, we have two pit bull dogs ourselves. But it got me thinking: if she is out with friends and not discriminating, is this a way of thinking that she is passing along to her friends? And, if so, could the next generation be a generation that realizes that all dogs are individuals?

So, I called my friend, Lynne. When Lynne was 10, she witnessed a dog being brutally killed. She was shocked by the cruelty and decided then and there that she would do all that she could to help animals in need and end animal cruelty. Lynne went into teaching, and eventually she started the Humane Society Club in the high school where she now teaches. It has grown over time and now has 78 members. About these students, Lynne says “The more I continue to lead these kids in the direction of animal welfare, I realize that we all will need them more than ever as we age and lose our energy and our ability to continue the cause. It is my hope that an animal welfare club can be started in all schools in America. It is a way to bring kindness and compassion into a school that spreads to other areas of life. I know that the kids in my club are some of the nicest kids in my school.”

I wanted to know more about these kids and pit bull dogs. How do the students feel? My timing couldn’t have been better; one of her students, Harmony, had just done a power point presentation on pit bull dogs and how all dogs are individuals. Better yet, some of them even have pit bull dogs! I asked them how they feel about pit bull dogs, and received some wonderful answers. The most common answer: pit bulls are amazing! Then I asked how they are going about changing the minds and public perception about pit bulls. Jen said: “Introduce my pit bull to people and answer any questions they have about the breed. Let them interact with him and see that he’s the sweetest dog in the world and wouldn’t hurt a fly.” My next question was “Do you think that one day, we will be able to judge all dogs as individuals?” Harmony answered, “I know it will be a lot of work, but if we get the real pit bull out there, they’ll see it.”

As a closing, I asked if there was anything that they would like to add and I got the best answer yet: “All dogs need to be treated with a healthy level of respect. They are living creatures, and regardless of breed, they will let you know when they don’t like something. No breed is different than any other in that respect; no breed is inherently more likely to attack you. A dog should be judged by his personality, not his name.”

Wow! What an amazing bunch of kids! So, let’s all take time to recognize the next generation – with them in the world, we CAN end discrimination!

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