Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Newfoundlands - "The Softer Side Of Life"

Seeing A Softer Side Of Life
Ark Crisis Child Care Center Welcomes Furry Friends
By Lindsey Ziliak
Sunday, April 19, 2009

"When Mobie and Zebie, two Newfoundland dogs, bound through the Ark Crisis Child Care Center, kids start squealing.

"'The kids can't wait for the visit'", said Nancy Gump, executive director of the center.

"Gump added that it provides a unique and exciting experience for the children.
In reality, though, the dogs get just as much out of it.

"'The boys love the kids', said Kat Shockley, Mobie and Zebie's owner. 'They love to have an audience.'

"During their most recent visit on Thursday, Shockley said, 'They showed off so bad.'

"The kids giggle as the dogs romp and play. Some of the more timid ones only will watch from the sidelines. Others want to get a closer look and actually pet the dogs and play with them.

"'This one little girl cracks me up', said Shockley.

"When Shockley brings in the dogs, she always starts by asking if there are any children who are afraid of them. 'When I walked in, one little girl raised her hand and said 'doggies,' and ran over to them', Shockley said with a laugh. 'That answered my question.'

"Gump said the dogs provide many spontaneous, teachable moments. They've taught the children about having respect for animals.

"Shockley said some of the children see the dogs playing rough and are, in turn, rough with the dogs. 'We tell them to be gentle and soft with the animals', Shockley said.

"And for Shockley, bringing the dogs to visit is all about softness. 'There's very little softness in peoples' lives anymore. It's very rigid and strict', Shockley said. The dogs, she said, bring a little softness to these children, give them someone soft to cuddle with.

"'Some of those little ones could be having a really bad day'", Shockley said.
Gump added, 'Some of our children are experiencing tumultuous times. We deal with a lot of stuff, and sometimes it's hard to shut the door on it.'

"The dogs, however, lighten the mood for the children at least for a little while. When the dogs leave, though, the children stay busy with artwork.

"Art is a big part of the program at Ark Crisis Child Care Center. Gump said the preschoolers get very animated with the glitter, paint and glue. 'They love it. They can get messy and get paint all over them, and that's OK,' Gump said.

"She said it's all about staying upbeat for the children.

"The Ark Crisis Child Care Center is the only state-licensed, emergency child care center in Indiana and one of 11 in the United States. The center offers free, temporary child care for children from the ages of six weeks to six years."

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