In our presentations to public schools, we have been asked to emphasize several of the following points of interest. Each point will be described, and what we do will be explained.
Say 'No' to Drugs
In this illustration, students are introduced to Pepper. Her English command “come” is explained. Les explains Pepper's next assignment, which is to lie down and stay. The students' job is then to entice her to get up from her position and come to them. To emphasize the temptations the world brings, Les hands dog food treats to the students to arm them with what would make most dogs get into trouble. Les highlights how treats to Pepper are just as enticing as drugs, sex, or gang violence can be to students. After the students call to her a few times, they usually notice she is not looking at them at all and is still lying down as previously instructed. Les has been giving her a subtle hand signal throughout the exercise, and she is watching for that signal to change. To enliven this point, Les suggests perhaps a bigger temptation would work, so he throws a slice of hot dog meat in front of Pepper. In obedient fashion, she stares intently at the food and may even drool, but she will always stay put and look back at her master. The point made is that when focusing on temptation, one will eventually fall. But when focusing on who is trustworthy (parents, teachers, administrators), and what is right, temptation can be overcome.
Drop Bad Habits
With this lesson Les asks if the students have ever tried to teach a dog to fetch a ball and return it. Most have and many of them will laugh when Les demonstrates with Pepper a dog’s propensity to hang on to the ball instead of letting go. Les asks Pepper to drop the ball, and she immediately complies. Les will throw the ball for her, and as she is bringing it back, Les asks her to drop it. She is again obedient and drops it. The first ball is a small, worn, dingy ball, and Les compares this ball to a bad habit or even a small problem. Dogs (and people) will hang on to something which they are used to, whether or not it is a wise choice. Les then demonstrates how smart Pepper is and how she has learned to drop a bad habit.
Les takes out a new larger ball and throws it for her. When she brings this one back, Les asks her to drop it. When she does, she gets a tasty treat. This shows Pepper’s understanding that there are better things to fill her life (or mouth) with if she will be obedient. Les emphasizes that when good things fill our lives, there is no room for the bad habits.
Controlling Your Anger
All dogs bark and Pepper will bark when a command is given either using a hand signal or verbal command. The students are asked which of the two methods they would like to see that will cause her to bark. Les gives the command and Pepper will bark but while she is barking Les will give her another hand signal to lie down and be quiet. She will drop immediately and even lay her chin between her paws. Les speaks about how easy it is sometimes for us to lose our temper but can we turn it off as quickly as Pepper can. Les can make a humorous or serious visual lesson out of this to fit the situational need of his audience.