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Introduction, Session 9: The Gift of Mutual Caring

In "Wonderful Welcome," a Tapestry of Faith program

We know from science that nothing in the universe exists as an isolated or independent entity.

— Margaret Wheatley, American author and management consultant

This session focuses on the intangible gift of mutual caring in the connections we can make with animals. While the gift is reciprocal in many ways — including responsibility, affection, and loyalty — humans have the power to name and nurture it. By exploring and affirming mutually these relationships, this session affirms our seventh Principle, the interconnectedness of all life.

The children will talk about their own interactions with animals and learn about relationships in which a person and an animal need each other. The central story introduces guide dogs trained to help owners with disabilities: In these relationships, the animal depends on its owner for survival and nurture, and the owner depends on the animal for help with daily tasks and personal safety.

Encourage all the children to reflect on their experiences, even those who have had limited exposure to the special and at times spiritual connection that can occur between animals and people.

Make plans well ahead of time if you want to include Alternate Activity 1, Visit from a Guide Dog. Alternately, consider inviting children to bring a real pet for Activity 4, Blessing of the Animals. First, find out from parents or your religious educator if any children have extreme animal allergies or fears. If so, it may be best to skip the live animal visitors. Make sure you include safety rules for dealing with unfamiliar animals, animals in the wild, and other people's pets, whether or not live animals are part of the session.

Alternate Activity 2, Making Dog Biscuits, requires use of a kitchen. After baking, Vegan Dog Treats need eight hours to harden before packaging. The Faith in Action activity suggests that the children sell or donate the biscuits.

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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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