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Fifteen years ago, I retired from the VSTA. My entire career was spent in education in many parts of the world. Since my retirement, I have travelled and volunteered extensively. Over the last 10 years, one of my favourite volunteer activities is with the BC SPCA Education Program. It is perfect for me as it combines my love of children and dogs!

Ten years ago, my Standard Poodle, Parker, was 2. At that time, I was volunteering in other areas of the BC SPCA. When I learned about the Education Program and the opportunity to visit schools for classroom presentations, it sounded like the perfect fit for Parker and me. Since then, Teddy, our 5 year old Standard Poodle, has joined our team.

I continue to volunteer with this program as it is very rewarding to watch the children interact with my dogs and I am a huge proponent of what is being taught.

It is very important that children learn how to interact with and treat animals. Many children have had little or no interaction with animals. Teddy and Parker are perfect for this as they are calm, gentle and love the attention! It is a joy to watch how happy the children are when Parker and Teddy are in their classroom. It is even more rewarding to watch the more tentative children interact! The children learn how to safely greet dogs, give them treats and what it takes to care for a dog. To boot, there are often donations given to the SPCA!

This education program is an extremely worthwhile endeavour. If it is something you might be interested in, contact Paula Neuman for more information. They are looking for volunteers at most of the branches around the province. You do not need a dog to volunteer for this program. They have several different presentations they offer to classrooms. The position is flexible within school hours and days.

Valerie Ramsey is a retired educator, dog lover and BCRTA Member