Pay It ForwardSeptember 30, 2014

Be Kind to Animals Week, which is observed from October 1-7, could have been an exercise in travesty. We've been bombarded with ads on animals' rights. We've seen groups protesting animal cruelty. We have been told about the virtues of veganism. But how do we tell these to students?

Children, even teenagers, are too young to understand such things. Forcing them is not good, as one must remember about leading by example. (If you're old enough, then you know where this gets to.) So how about a game of pay it forward? It's not about waiting for someone's pet dog to come to you for a snuggle. Let's be creative, as we want to inspire the young ones. Here are some good ideas:

Visit a shelter. Some dogs are truly fortunate, while others end up in the shelter. The list of reasons is long. Family circumstances, an illness the ownder can't afford, neglect. If you want to have your own pet dog, then it will be better to get one from the shelter. They'll be grateful for another chance. If you don't fancy one, then spend a day (or two). It will be more fun to bring the kids. (These dogs do get along with them.)

Bring the children to the zoo. You have been to the zoo before, but this visit can be different. Try to share your knowledge, which will pique the children's interest. A guessing game will keep you forget about the time. There have been debate on the space, or lack of, but it is better not to bring it up. Promise you'll return.

Time to watch together. The telly can be a good opportunity to bond together. There are lots of wildlife shows, filmed in Australia or any remote part of the world. Learning about the flora and fauna can be a rewarding experience.

Go to an agricultural show. This kind of event goes back to the colonial years, its aim to showcase the best livestock. It's a promotion of Australia's agriculture, but this doesn't mean we can't go there for other reasons. For good ol' fun, cheer for your favourite ram to win. Get close and take a picture with the cow that you tip to take the blue ribbon. Children will see that they can be gentle and adorable.

Camp and trek. There may be no better way to appreciate Mother Nature than being a part of it. There's an Outback waiting for you! Have no fear on encountering a poisonous animal. (Be sensible.) Don't worry about the sudden change in temperature, which can cause discomfort. (Be patient with the children.) If you see an animal, watch from a safe distance.

Attend the school events. Schools will organise events to promote Be Kind to Animals Week. You don't want to miss it.

If we forgot something, then let us know.

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