This week was quite special. I had another presentation for a group of high school students who engage in creative writing. I presented on how I became a writer beyond writing as something required for work. Usually, such presentations go smoothly as I always schedule a video test with the teacher and the technical team if needed. But this time technology significantly multifunctioned and it took a long time to be able to present something. In such situations, I usually smile and still engage with the audience in any way possible in order to model my uplifting attitude in any situation I have to face, which makes a big difference.
At the end of my presentation, during the question and answer session, students had some interesting questions. One of them was why I thought that Carmel, my therapy dog, would be a good character in my children’s book as teaching children some important concepts. I thought about it for a while and I went back to the time when Carmel helped one boy start speaking in the classroom. Although I am not completely sure why the boy chose to speak to Carmel and remained silent for the teacher, we suspected why this was the case. Because Carmel as a dog won’t reveal any secrets to anybody else since she cannot talk like humans, that is what probably gave the boy the courage to start speaking only to her. As a result, this special bond and trust created the breakthrough for the boy.
As I reflect on this situation and the connection with Carmel as a character who teaches children something important, I think the idea of having a dog character as a teacher became a strong part of my desire to write a children’s book and I continue this concept. I continue giving Carmel human properties by allowing her to speak like the teacher but with a love of a dog therapist for children, which makes her teaching a bit different than when teachers teach. Perhaps children pay more attention as they see Carmel not every day and therefore she is always the main attraction when she comes in. Because of that uniqueness, she has unusual properties that give her a special power to reach children’s hearts and minds in a more unique way than the teacher would do. Carmel brings something special for children each time she enters the building and the classroom. She brings an incredible invitation to come together with her and learn through both minds and hearts, which is the most powerful way of learning. As a result, children will respond in a different way. Perhaps they will be more eager, maybe more engaged, and definitely ready to tune to whatever Carmel would say and ask them to do. This eagerness to learn is a treasure we need to create and cherish. Therefore, bringing dog characters to books does not only make sense but should be done. Let’s let them become teachers for our children in books more often.
What else do you think is special about dog characters?