Animal Helpers Badge Workshop

Jenna and I went on our annual mother-daughter Girl Scout adventure. With such a large troop, I am usually embroiled in the politics and logistics of keeping the conglomerate alive. This leaves little opportunity for mother-daughter bonding. Three years ago, I made a promise with Jenna to participate in one Girl Scout event per year with ONLY her.

For the 2014-2015 year, we attended a workshop for cadettes to earn the Animal Helpers badge. The event was held at Cowboy City Texas in Humble. The organizers brought in a policeman with his canine, two volunteers from Faithful Paws with their dogs and a Doctor of physical therapy with her horses. In the end, we watched Balto about another animal helper. The workshop taught the girls the importance of animals and humans working together.

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The police officer’s German Shepherd, Lex, jumped around energetically. He had to securely grasp the dog’s leash when Jenna would pet the animal. The dog wanted to jump so badly. He leaped onto the stage, pulled on the leash to play tug-of-war, barked at his handler. As soon as the officer told him to sit and lay down (in Czech), Lex immediately obeyed. You could picture this beast using all of his energy to chase down a fugitive or comb a field for a missing weapon. The best part was when a girl asked how the dogs were trained. He said the only reward the dogs get for good behavior is a chance to play with a tennis ball. The officer reached into his pocket and all of Lex’s activity stopped. The dog focused intensely on his hand and that pocket. He would pull it in and out of his pocket and Lex followed his every movement. It was one of the cutest things I have seen. Jenna was giggling with glee. Maybe it was because we recently watched How to Train Your Dragon 2, but Lex really reminded me of Toothless.


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The dichotomy between the Great Dane and the Jack Russell terrier added more entertainment to the event. The volunteers from Faithful Paws explained how their animals were used to comfort patients in hospitals and nursing homes. The dogs and humans were trained before being allowed to interact with the facilities. The Jack Russell, Lola, barked and begged for treats and attention the whole time. Her energy and sweet nature lent itself well to the program. The Great Dane, Apollo, was such a big baby. His handler had to keep holding his back end because he wanted to crawl into the laps of the girls who were petting him. She tried to get him to do a crawling trick, but the floor was so cold, he wouldn’t drag his belly on it. Such a great program! If you want to help out and volunteer or ask for their services, check out Faithful Paws Pet Therapy Program.


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The last speaker Jenna and I saw was Dr. Shelley, a physical therapist who offers therapy with her horses. Her facility was beautiful and her demeanor inspirational. One of the stories she told moved me to tears. The saddle with the back and straps you see in the above photo was donated by a family for all the joy Dr. Shelley brought to their daughter’s life. This woman is making the world a better place exactly as we pledge to do every time we repeat the Girl Scout Law. We could learn a thing or two from her. Her ranch also offers summer camps and horseback riding lessons. You can check it out here Cowboy City Texas.

Jenna and I love our time together. Girl Scouts offers so much for us to participate in. It’s a joy to be selfish once a year to experience a piece with my baby girl.

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