Happy Birthday Dear Doggy!

Happy Birthday Dear Doggy!

They say every dog has his day. But on 25 March, the students of Jidd School proved this statement to be more than just an overused cliche. The special children celebrated the first birthday of their favourite dog, Kutti and made her day special.

The celebration was complete in all respects. The main hall was decorated and a special cake was ordered. Before the cake cutting ceremony, the principal of Jidd School, Shyamshree Bhonsle, performed an aarti and applied tikka to the birthday girl, who was dressed up in new clothes. The cake was cut amidst all the singing and clapping, followed by bursting of the huge balloon that was full of chocolates. This was followed by a round of gifts for the dog. One class had brought her a cap, while another got her a pack of Marie biscuits. In keeping with the spirit, the therapists and teachers also brought her a gift: a pair of glares. "We wanted to make this a truly fun occasion for the children, and so we did all that could to make them happy," said Minal Lonkar who trains the dog. As Kutti has learnt to shake hands, each student individually wished her "Happy Birthday."

Kutti is a female Labrador who has been with the students of Jidd School since June 2003. According to Lonkar, Kutti is perhaps the first official therapy dog in India, to be used in a school to improve behaviour patterns of its students. "Kutti provides companionship to these differently-abled children and her presence has positive effect on their emotional and spiritual well being," believes Lodkar.

Kutti, which literally means small, is the youngest of the three siblings. Her siblings are also in Thane, growing up in a factory. Asked how she thought of keeping a dog in the special school, Bhonsle said that she got her inspiration from the TV channel Animal Planet, which often shows how trained dogs have positively affected the behaviour patterns of handicapped children, old people and special children. Kutti stays with Bhonsle and accompanies her to school every morning, returning home every evening. Bhonsle adss, "Kutti is used to this schedule now and looks forward to attending school every morning. Yet, as a precautionary measure, we keep her in my office and allow her to be with the children only during therapeutic sessions, in the presence of trained therapists."

Teachers’ Excursion
As children spend their vacations having fun, NGO Jidnyasa thinks that teachers deserve to enjoy too. So this year, in addition to the Himalayan Adventure Camps for students of class X, they are organising an "Eco-Adventure Tour for Teachers." The objective of this 14-day tour starting 12 May through 26 May is to learn while having fun and then pass the knowledge acquired on to the students.

The participating teachers will first stop at Dehradun, where they will visit several research institutes of national and international fame such as The Forest Research Institute, Geological Society of India and Survey of India. The Forest Research Institute Dehradun, is one of the oldest institutions of its kind, and acclaimed the world over.

After this the teachers will travel to Mussorie where they will spend four days in a forest camp and will study flora-fauna and also do a nature trail in and around Mussorie. The final segment of the tour will involve a visit to important places of worship such as Bradinath, Hrishikesh and Haridwar. Teachers interested in joining the tour may contact Jidnyasa on 25403857.

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