Saturday, March 10, 2012

Drawing Exercise: Make your pet dogs happy

Abe V Rotor

“Make these dogs happy,” I told a group of schoolchildren who were taking art lessons from me. I gave each of them a copy of a trace drawing of a pair of dogs. The dogs looked sad, docile and there is something pathetic about them.

With pastel colors they took the challenge. In their young mind I saw their pets at home. As I studied the expressions of their faces and actions they were not only re-creating their pets physically - they we virtually “caring for their pets.”

And what do you think they did with these animals? How kind are these children to them? How good are they as masters – or friends to their pets?

If you would like to try this workshop exercise yourself, stop reading this article. Draw a pair of dogs on a whole bond or Oslo paper and proceed without reading the criteria below. The instruction is simply, Make your pet dogs happy.

These are the criteria in grading your drawing. Use the Likert Scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poorest, 5 average and 10 outstanding. Each criterion is equivalent to 10 points, so that the perfect score is 100 percent.

1. Unchain the dogs – A young participant made a drawing of a chain being sawed off in order to free the dogs. Truly there is nothing more important than freedom. This is also true with animals. Aren’t zoos today moved to bigger spaces where the habitats of the animals are simulated? In Safari Africa tourists are taken to see the animals in the wild, and not vice versa.

2. Build a doghouse – Keep them from heat and cold. Give them a sense of security and comfort. Give the doghouse some art and a bit of aesthetic sense. The house is a status symbol but its functional features are foremost.

3. Provide a shade – A tree beside the doghouse is a magnificent scene:
a bird’s nest atop, birdlings and parents singing at feeding time, ripe fruits hang, a kite is stuck up on a branch, a boy climbs to retrieve it, leaves fall and form a litter on which the dogs lay. These and many more, which the children drew, revive the childhood to every viewer of their art works.

4. Give them bone – If there is anything a dog is associated with, it is a big bone. Aesop saw it fitting for a fable, a lesson about greed. For the dog however, it is security and plaything. Be sure you give your pets food, fresh water and proper nutrition. Just do not overfeed them.

5. Play with them, give a plaything – I found out that many of my pupils drew themselves beside or playing with their pets. Others drew cats and mice playing with their dogs. Playing is universal among animals, tame or in the wild. Others raced with them on the meadow.

6. Groom them - Give them bath and comb them. Several drawings showed the dogs in attire, one in a circus, the others in casual wear, one eating on China ware. This is not rare because we often think of animal as human beings. Read “Animal Farm” by George Orwell. Or see the movie, “Babe.” Aesop’s fables are about animals who think like human beings – or it could be the other way around as Aesop wanted to drive a point, quite often a painful lesson. Aesop was silenced because he was unwittingly hurting people with his fable.

7. Teach them tricks and discipline – A ball, a stick, an electronic gadget to open or close the doghouse, are among the things the young participants included in their drawings. Why there’s a saying, “Old dogs learn no trick.” But the children saw their pets as young as they are. This means they are growing up together.

8. Vaccinate your dog – A participant drew a veterinarian administering an anti-rabies shot on his young pet. Precaution is always important, rabies is dangerous.

9. Artistic quality of your drawing

10. No wasteland or vacant space on your drawing paper.

Compute for the total score.
91 to 100 outstanding. You are a superb master. Indeed you a great caretaker of pets.
81 to 90 very good. You know how to take care of your pets properly.
71 to 80 good. It's all right. Give more care and attention to your pets.
60 to 70 average. You got to learn many things about taking care of pets. Find interest in pets.
59 and below. Listen to Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid lessons. Attend a dog training school for pet owners.

Who are these children mirrored by their drawings? And who will they be through the keyhole of their imagination? How we regard our pets is what we are and will become.

“A starving dog at his master’s gate predicts the ruin of the state,” thus William Blake in “Auguries of Innocence” tells us.

I, for one, would gladly meet with confidence and ease the master of a contented and happy dog.

The art workshop for children in which I used the dog as an exercise to demonstrate love for animals may be a simple way of changing attitudes and developing values. But children are known to be very effective in carrying out the multiplier effect of a lesson such as this one.

“Make these dogs happy,” could mean a thousand dogs in the future, and a thousand enlightened children who follow the footsteps of those who unchained the dog, build a doghouse, gave a bone - and made the world a kinder one.

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