Animal ClubSponsor: Ms. Garmus
Meeting Dates: Mondays during PM1
The Animal Club’s purpose is to help students develop an empathy for and understanding of animals, especially those who live with and around us. While the focus is on human responsibility for animal welfare, the overall intention is to have fun! Programs will include visits by animal control officers, wildlife rehabilitators and raptor specialists.
Fluff the Ferret came to entertain Animal Club members on April 15. Fluff proved to be a cuddly, personable little guy who gladly roamed from lap to lap and played with his yellow squeaky toy bunny. Although ferrets spend most of their time sleeping, Fluff was wide awake and very active!
Veterinarian Dr. Jane Morse came to Animal Club on April 8th to talk to students about living with a pet with a disability. Two dogs with disabilities were in attendance. They included three-legged Finn, a Collie puppy, and Lily, a full-grown Chihuahua who is prone to seizures. As Dr. Morse pointed out, and as students could easily see, their disabilities do not prevent Finn and Lily from leading happy, fun-filled lives!
Jet-Li, resident Gunston guinea pig who hangs out in the Montessori classroom, came to visit Animal Club in March. He told students about what it's like to live at school, and about all the things he likes to do and eat. He's willing to see the occasional visitor so anyone passing by the Montessori rooms may stop in to say, "Hello."
On Feb. 11, 2013, Rachael Tolman of the Long Branch Nature Center shared facts and figures about snakes, as well as some snake skins and skeletons, with the Animal Club. Serving as snake "ambassador" was a seven foot long Pine Snake, native to Virginia, and, fortunately, for Animal Club members, not inclined to bite anything but mice or similar prey. The Pine Snake actually seemed to enjoy the many massages members were pleased to give him as they tactilely checked out the difference between the scales on his back and his stomach.
On Nov. 5, 2012 Gunston's Animal Club had its first meeting of the new school year. The Animal Club welcomed back Jennifer Alfonso and her K9 dynamic duo, Shakespeare (all black) and Mozart (black and white). As usual, students loved the interaction they had with these talented pooches. Shakespeare and Mozart put on a show for their audience, and Ms. Alfonso shared interesting facts about her well-trained dogs. Thanks again goes to Jennifer for sharing her four-legged friends with us.
Matt Neff, a naturalist with the Long Branch Nature Center and the National Zoo, returned to Animal Club on April 16th to talk about "pocket pets." Pocket pets are those small creatures a person can carry in his or her pocket. Some small creatures, however, don't make very good pets for several reasons. First, many of them don’t remain small. The cute little boa you select at PetCo will turn into a big snake. Second, some of them live a very long time. If you decide to get a tortoise, it could outlive you as they can live to be more than 100 years old. Third, they may look cute, but have habits you may not like. Mr. Neff pointed out that the cute little sugar glider he brought along, pees a lot, so the sugar glider doesn't tend to smell very nicely and neither does his container. Finally, pocket pets can be very expensive to keep. Reptiles need special lights and containers which are very expensive to buy and maintain. Other creatures need special diets in order to stay healthy. Mr. Neff brought in a deformed box turtle that suffered from an earlier trauma and malnutrition as an example of an animal that was not well cared for. If you want a pocket pet, do your research: make sure you know its adult size, its life span, its habits and what it needs to stay happy and healthy. If you can't take care of a pocket pet, think about snuggling up with a stuffed teddy bear.
Pictures by Alena M.
On March 26, Animal Club hosted Ms. Theresa of Good Dog Rescue on March 26th. Good Dog Rescue rescues all sorts of dogs, but most often, they find themselves rescuing Pitbulls. Scout, a mostly white (with two brown spots on her back) Pitbull accompanied Ms. Theresa and made it clear that Pitbulls are neither fearsome nor aggressive dogs. Scout, who came into rescue emaciated and ill, is now a healthy, happy dog who, although initially a little shy, opened up and happily sniffed the room, found some treats, played ball and gave kisses. Scout is the perfect example of what Pitbulls are really like - sweet, loyal and loving.
Pictures by Emily C.
On January 9th, Matthew Neff of the Long Branch Nature Center (and the National Zoo) provided a fascinating talk on the lives and loves of snakes. He brought a rosy boa and a corn snake for up close and personal encounters of the snake kind. To their credit, attendees asked smart, insightful questions showing their reptile savvy and compassion.
On December 12th, Animal Club was lucky enough to host Sergeant Christopher Holmes of the D.C. FIRE/EMS Department and his partner, Cazo. Cazo is a German Shepherd and one of only 18 dogs in the United States that is trained to find living people trapped in collapsed buildings. Sergeant Holmes and Cazo have traveled around the world with the Fairfax County International Urban Search & Rescue resource to respond to disasters and save lives. Off the job, Cazo lives with Sergeant Holmes and his family. They enjoy fishing and hanging out on the sofa. One thing Sergeant Holmes' kids don't do is play hide and seek with Cazo because he finds them.always
Joyce and Marty Suydam brought their Goldendoodle, Charley, to Animal Club on November 14. Charley is a blend of a Golden Retriever and a Standard Poodle. She has the Golden's affectionate nature and the Poodle's smarts. She has the photogenic gene of both breeds!
Photos by Pablo W. and Mr. Roberts
Oct. 24, 2011 was Gunston's first Animal Club of the new school year. At this meeting, the Animal Club welcomed back Jennifer Alfonso and her two dynamic dogs, Shakespeare (all black) and Mozart (black and white). As usual, students loved the interaction they had with these talented pooches. Thanks again goes to Jennifer for sharing her four-legged friends with us.
Pictures by Francisco R.
Animal Club ended the year on a fun note with Jennifer Alfonso bringing her boys Shakespeare and Mozart. The boys did a weave pole demonstration as well as their usual cool tricks which included singing by Shakespeare and tunneling, high five-ing, and more by both dogs. Gunston has been the training grounds for Mozart, who first came last spring as a shy boy, and is now a tail-wagging confident animal ambassador thanks to Animal Club members showing him that people can be ok, especially if they have treats.
Pictures by Francisco R.
Rachael Tolman, from the Long Branch Nature Center, brought some very curious snakes to Animal Club on April 25. Rachael gave a very interesting presentation full of snake facts and everyone learned a lot. Then students got up close and personal with a King Snake (which looks a lot like the venomous Coral Snake), a Black Rat Snake and a very large Pine Snake. All those present were relieved to hear that the latter variety does not live in the Arlington area!
Pictures by Francisco R.
Terry Haas, owner of Loyalty Pet Care ®, a dog walking and petsitting company that serves Arlington, brought her dog, Grace, to Animal Club on March 14. Grace is very special in that she has only three legs, but that doesn't stop her from getting around. Grace lost her leg as a puppy so she doesn't really know how it feels to be a four legged dog. Three legs are just fine. She runs, she plays, she herds sheep! She can do it all.
Pictures by Francisco R.
Lisa Tudor, owner of KissAble Canine Dog Training LLC, brought her dog Jack to Animal Club on February 7th. Ms. Tudor showed students how she trains dogs by having students try to figure out what she wanted them to do, and then positively reinforcing their behavior when they got close or finally determined what it was she wanted. Jack then showed how he's adept at understanding and acting on human directions as long as there's a treat involved!
Pictures by Sasha B.
Gabriel, a 7 year-old tri-color representative of Collie Rescue, Inc., (CRI) visited Gunston's Animal Club in January and directed students to the Collie Rescue website where adoptable Collies are featured. Gabriel explained how rescues work, as well as the adoption processes used by most rescue groups. He noted that he and his fellow Collies were owner give-ups or strays and were very grateful to find forever homes through CRI.
Matt Neff, a Naturalist from the Long Branch Nature Center, talked about wild mammals found in Arlington at Animal Club's November meeting. Matt brought beaver and fox pelts as well as guinea pig, cat and coyote skulls. Students looked at a "preserved" flying squirrel and petted a real sugar glider (not native to Arlington) as it chomped on mealy bugs.
Shakespeare came back but he did not come alone. Jennifer Alfonso, an Anger Managment counselor, brought Shakespeare and his brother Mozart to Animal Club on April 19.
Pictures by Alejandro A. & Ruendi Z.
Polly's Puppies came back for a visit. It has been just a little over four months and see how much they've grown! Thanks again to Ms. Howerton for sharing these adorable pups with our Animal Club.
Jennifer Alfonso, an Anger Management counselor, brought Shakespeare, her amazing black lab mix, to Animal Club on January 25. Shakespeare is a rescue dog and is featured in the recently published book, "To the Rescue, Found Dogs with a Mission". The book features both therapy dogs and service dogs who were all once discarded or abandoned. Shakespeare helps his person teach students how to care for dogs and develop empathy for all animals. They visit hospital patients and work with troubled adolescents. At Animal Club, Shakespeare talked (He says, "I love you!") and sang along to "Happy Birthday". He did lots of tricks. But most of all, Shakespeare made everyone at Animal Club feel very special and very loved!
Photos by Ms. Garmus and Mr. Roberts
Anibal Armendaris, of the Stahl Exotic Animal Veterinary Services in Fairfair, VA, visited the Animal Club to show various creepy crawly creatures. Including such animals as a tarantula, a tree gecko, and a millipede.
Pictures by Sidney S.
Matt Neff, Naturalist from the Long Branch Nature Center, visited the Animal Club to show both wild and pet breeds of snakes.
Pictures by Alejandro A.
Another Great Animal Club Meeting! Arlington Career Center students visit with a variety of the creatures they care for in the Animal Science program. Thanks to Mr. Scott Lockhart and his students for generously sharing their time and their animals.
Cindy Hiddemen, a lizard enthusiast, brought her bearded dragon and iguana to Animal Club and shared lots of facts about reptile care. She also talked about handling lizards and how even properly handling a cranky iguana can leave you with a nasty bite. She brought the photos to prove that! Most importantly, Ms. Hiddemen talked about the trade in illegally captured lizards and how terrible their living conditions can be when people don't know or don't care about properly taking care of them.
Ms. Hiddemen maintains the website for IguanaFirst, a local reptile rescue organization.
In December, Shakespeare, a black lab, came to visit Animal Club. Shakespeare was rescued from an animal shelter by Jennifer Alfonso and now does anger management work with troubled teens. Ms. Alfonso brought him to Gunston to show how you can train animals. In addition to jumping into your lap on command, and sitting VERY patiently while many kids petted him, Shakespeare can also woof out "I love you". Here is a link to a Washington Post article about Ms. Alfonso, Shakespear and other dogs that work with kids:
Shakespeare the Rescue Dog
In November, Chris Gabriel of Nature’s Nibbles brought his canine "pawtner" to talk to Animal Club members about how important a good diet is for cats and dogs. Mr. Gabriel’s store, which is in Alexandria, not far from Gunston, is filled with organic foods and treats for dogs and cats.
Pictures courtesy of Alex P.There are also lots of toys and beds to keep your buddies happy and comfy. For more about Nature’s Nibbles, you may connect to this site: http://www.naturesnibbles.com/
In October, the raptors made a return visit to Gunston's Animal Club. Mr. Kent Knowles, of the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia, brought owls and hawks of all sorts to show Animal Club members these beautiful birds "up close and personal". Because of their talons and beaks, students couldn't hold the birds but Mr. Knowles walked the birds around the room and everyone had a chance to admire them. Mr. Knowles spoke to students about raptor habitat and what they can do to keep the birds safe. For more information on the Raptor Conservancy and raptors in general, you may connect to this site: http://raptorsva.org/
Police Department K9 Unit
In September, Officer Greg Johnson, of the Arlington Police Department K9 Unit, brought his working canine partner to talk about what it's like when your work partner has four legs, a tail and a big bark. Gunston Animal Club members were thrilled to meet Officer Johnson's big German Shepherd buddy who was quite infatuated with his ball and with greeting all the members of the club.
Homeward Trails Shelter Supplies Drive
For three weeks in May, Gunston’s Animal Club, sponsored by teachers Diana Garmus and Linda Spencer, collected items that were donated to Homeward Trails, a local animal rescue group that works with animal shelters in rural Virginia. Homeward Trails distributed the newspapers, food, toys, blankets, towels, leashes and collars collected to those shelters which don’t have enough money to help all of the animals they take in.
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