Meet our “dog teachers!” The tabby school dog “Tiger” of Taoyuan Guolin Elementary School (left) and the school dog “Ann” of New Taipei Banqiao Elementary School (right) are examples of endorsement of animal protection education, allowing students to learn from dogs.
The “Dogs in the Classroom – 2021 Excellent School Dog Contest”, co-organized by the World Dog Alliance and the Taiwan Animal Protection Administrative Supervision League, completed the preliminary selection on June 16. From the 45 participating junior high schools, elementary schools and high schools, 10 schools with excellent performance were selected. From the submitted materials of each school, the judges not only read the touching stories of stray dogs, but also saw the dedication and affection of many teachers and students in caring for the school dogs!
The implementation of school dogs in Taiwan came in three stages. At first, the schools kept the stray dogs that broke into the campus out of compassion. Later, some schools recognized dogs’ ability to guard the campus, including snake hunt and stranger alert, thus safeguarding the school. In addition, interactions between students and dogs could be the foundation of life education. Eventually, the Ministry of Education encouraged the schools to officially appoint those strays as “school dogs”.
Since the term “school dog” was mentioned in the “Animal Protection Law” in 2018, school dogs have a new title, “dog teachers”, to support animal protection education. The contest originated from this new change. Animal protection organizations hope that school dogs will apppear in the classroom. Has their hope been fulfilled?
The Guolin Elementary School in Taoyuan City, which won the special award, has organized the “School Dog Special Forces” animal protection club, the waste-use “School Dog Toy Knitting Club”, and the “Guo Lin Tiger Spread Love Teacher Community” with school dog Tiger as the main theme. The Banqiao Elementary School in New Taipei City, which won the merit award, let the school dog Ann attend all classes, including the first grade orientation course, the second grade emotional education course, and the sixth grade interpersonal communication training course.
Among 3,881 junior high schools, elementary schools, and high schools in Taiwan, only 290 offer school dogs, accounting for less than 10% of total. Those that do often continue to raise school dogs one generation after another. Longjing Junior High School in Taichung City now has the third-generation school dog, and it has experience of 23 years. Some schools keep multiple school dogs. Fengzhu Middle School in New Taipei City has 5 school dogs, and Kaohsiung Fengshan High School has 6.
Although they are school dogs, their life expectancy is not shorter than that of domestic dogs, thanks to good care by the schools. Baby Q from Kanjiao Elementary School in New Taipei City is now 17 years old, and Egg White from Taiping Middle School in Taichung City is now 14 years old. Fengshan High School’s old school dog Lanny is 13 years old, diagnosed with lung tumors and pulmonary fibrosis. Fortunately, students formed an animal protection club to take care of his daily needs, including medication.
The 45 participating schools present 45 great stories about the companionship of people and dogs. The organizers will publish books to tell the stories to the world and our next generations.
“Dogs in the Classroom – 2021 Excellent School Dog Contest” result
Anxi Junior High School of New Taipei City
Guolin Elementary School of Taoyuan City
Longgang Elementary School of Taoyuan City
Muzha High School of Taipei City
Degao Elementary School of Tainan City
Banqiao Elementary School of New Taipei City
Longjing Junior High School of Taichung City
Wende Elementary School of Changhua County
Shili Elementary School Affiliated to Donghua University of Hualien County
Xinfeng Junior High School of Hsinchu County