【Life Education】Katie and Peanut the Golden Retriever

Note: Since 2013, CEO began to explore animals’ involvement in helping the underprivileged children in the Mainland, i.e., “life education.”  Katie, a four-year-old child in the story, experienced a traumatic family misfortune. Many wished to offer their helping hands, but could not reach this little heart. However, a dog did it. Cases like Katie’s story inspired us to launch the “HI Partner” Program, introducing AAI (Animal Assisted Intervention) as a means to touch broken hearts, especially for children.

Katie was a cute little four-year-old without a smile when she came to the Luoning Children Welfare Institute (LNCWI) in 2015. She often threw herself on the floor with temper tantrums, screamed, and even yelled “help” out loud. Those were the horrific scenes one would frequently encounter with little Katie back then.

CEO investigated her situation and found her heart-wrenching story. Katie was a “little princess” living a happy life with her loving parents, grandparents, and an older brother. A tragic family incident made her an instant orphan without parental tender-loving-care. Katie’s grandparents were unable to care for her and her brother, and they sent her to the LNCWI. As a young child living amidst strangers, she would bury herself under her blanket at night and sobbed until she fell asleep. It was disheartening.

Ms. Cathy (CEO Director Ms. Catherine Chua) would often bring along Peanut, our Golden Retriever, to visit the CEO Kindergarten at the LNCWI. When Katie saw Peanut the very first time, she burst out with a new cry of excitement and ran directly toward her, hugging her with a huge smile on her face! The gesture surprised everyone. We then found out that she once had a dog at her home and that meeting Peanut was like meeting a family member.

Even since then, whenever Katie saw Peanut, she would run toward her with plenty of hugs and kisses. For a long while, Katie would prefer playing with Peanuts than with other children. First, we witnessed a dramatic change in Katie because of her interaction with Peanut. Her downcast face turned into one with giggles and laughs that would light up the entire room. She gradually opened herself up to other people. Her relationship with teachers and students had greatly improved. After three months, her grandpa came to visit one day, she was overjoyed. She ran to hug him and said, “Grandpa, I will study hard, and after I graduate, I will buy a car and take you and grandma around to go and play.” Grandpa was astonished and said, “What on earth had happened that could turn my little rascal into such a sweet little girl?”