Frank is autistic. He loves puppies, but hates ‘Whitey’ the different pup.

Hello I’m Frank. They say I’m autistic. I don’t know about that, I just know I’m not like other people and most of them do not understand me. There are a few kind people around who try to help, but mostly people move away from me. I think they don’t know what I’m going to do next. Sometimes I just have to shout and scream. The noise it starts deep inside me and then I just need to let it out and when I do I feel better for a while.

Sometimes I want to bang my head on the wall to try to feel better. I don’t like doing that but the pain helps me to forget my feelings.

The best thing I do is when I go and help to look after the dogs and puppies at a place near where I live. I like animals. Dogs, horses, even cows, but cows aren’t friendly so I don’t like them much.

When I go to see the puppies there is one that I don’t like. It looks different from the rest. My favourite puppy is black and brown. The puppy I hate is black and white. I think it is ugly, I wish it wasn’t there. I push it away if it comes near me and I like to make it frightened of me. My carer said that I must not be unkind to it. It is a dog that needs to be loved and cared for just like all the other dogs. She says I shouldn’t hate it.

Every week one of the other puppies disappears. They said it found a new home. After several weeks the only puppy left is the one with white on it. I have no puppies to play with.

I didn’t want to play with Whitey, but it wants to play with me. The owner said that she is keeping it because it is so pretty. I thought she thought it was ugly like I did. It was different, see?

People who are different get called bad names sometimes, like I do. So I called that puppy bad names, and it made me feel strong, calling it names, like I am the boss, and I don’t want it near me, so I keep it away from me.

But now it’s the only puppy left and it still wants to play with me. I feel lonely without all the other puppies. I wonder if it will play ball with me. I throw the ball and it brings the ball back to me. It’s wagging its tail. Perhaps it doesn’t care that I’m different. I stroke it and say ‘I’m sorry I was unkind to you.’ It licks me and I know it loves me. But if I shout at it or hit it , it will not love me, it will run away and I will lose my friend. I am not going to do that.

Black and white puppy

Questions

What is the thing that Frank likes to do best?

What kind of things could Frank do to help to look after the puppies?

Does he like all the puppies?

Why does he not like the black and white one?

What does he do to Whitey at first?

What does his carer say about Frank being unkind to the dog?

Why did the other puppies go away?

Why did Whitey stay?

What did Frank think the owner thought about Whitey?

What did Frank do to make himself feel like the boss?

How did the puppy show that it liked Frank?

What did Frank do to make friends with Whitey?

Who was happy at the end of the story?

Meercat Story- ‘knowing right from wrong’- respect for animals – for age 6-10 years

Brett and the Meercats

When I was a child I lived in Africa . We didn’t have a back garden. We just had the bush.  I was fascinated by all the animals running around, just outside my house. Of course you couldn’t see them all at once. Sometimes we could hear the lions roaring; sometimes the elephants would pass by, these were such large animals I kept well away from them. We didn’t see them very often. I was more used to the smaller animals. We had a family of meerkats who lived not very far away from my house. I used to spend a lot of time watching them.  They became quite used to me.  I would take a little blanket all folded up neatly and walk very quietly to the meerkat tunnels, I would park myself just a few yards away from them slightly hidden behind a bush. I got a very good view of them. They knew I was there, but I never harmed them, so they didn’t bother about me.

I could always tell which meerkat was the boss. At first I didn’t know whether it was a male or a female meerkat. It was just a meerkat. I didn’t know if it was a mum or a dad. Then one day I noticed that the boss meerkat was looking rather heavy and round and then she disappeared. It wondered if she’d been killed. A number of days later she reappeared. She looked different. She wasn’t so fat but I could see that underneath her she had a milky udder, that’s what my mother called it, then I knew that she was a she, and that she had had babies and these babies were suckling her , hidden away under the ground. I don’t know why but I called her Tam Tam, I think I might have given her the name before I knew she was a girl. I wondered how long it was going to be before I saw her babies coming out into the daylight. I took my blanket out every day to make sure I wouldn’t miss them. I could go early in the morning and in the afternoon when it was cooler. Meerkats didn’t come out in the middle of the day,  it was too hot for them and too hot for me.

I don’t remember how many days I had to wait before the first signs of baby meerkats appeared. I think I might have watched them during their first excursion into the world. I remember seeing little noses peeping out sniffing the air and  popping back in again, very shyly.

meerkat babies

Finally Tam Tam came out of the burrow and called to them and they came one by one, sniffing  and blinking  their eyes, not used to strong light having lived in the tunnel for quite a long time. I was so excited and wanted to tell my friends, but something stopped me. I knew that some people could be very cruel to wild animals. Some people looked on them as pests. They would say all sorts of nasty things about them and then they would go and dig them out, destroying their burrows. They would say things like ‘ the cattle put their feet in the holes they might break their legs’. Well, I didn’t think cattle were that stupid.  I’ve watched our cattle carefully stepping round the burrows.  None of them ever hurt their legs. At the first sign of cattle the meerkats would disappear down their holes. The cows weren’t very interested in them, but they would nibble at the grass around the tunnels before moving on.

One day, a cousin came to stay. I hadn’t met him before, he was older than me and seemed to be a nice boy. He said that life in the bush was boring and I wanted to show him that it certainly wasn’t. I decided to take the risk of showing him the meerkats. I gave him a blanket and told him to walk very quietly. We waited patiently by the tunnels. The meerkats wouldn’t come out. I had told him about the babies and how they would all sit up on their hind legs in a row and look about them. Often their heads would all turn at the same time, it was almost like a dance and I found it very comical. I had told my cousin, Brett about other funny things that they used to do. He really wanted to see them, but I think he was making too much noise. He was laughing and joking and although I kept saying ‘Shush’,I was giggling a bit. The meerkats weren’t used to noise. We had frightened them. Suddenly Brett stood up and ran over to a tree with dead branches on it. He broke one off .

‘I’ll get them out of there!’  he said.

Before I could stop him he had poked the stick down the tunnel.  Luckily it was a long tunnel and probably had a bend in it, so he couldn’t reach my favourite baby animals. I was very upset. I picked up my blanket and whopped him with it.

‘You mustn’t do that, you’ll hurt them!’ I said, ‘Come away at once’.

‘I’m going to get a spade and dig ‘em out,’  he said.

He ran off towards the house. Luckily I knew all the spades were locked away. I ran to find my mother. She knew how much I loved the meerkats, I knew that she would tell Brett not to dig them out.  She did, she made him feel very ashamed of himself. But she wasn’t unkind. She knew he was a city boy who might not have been taught to respect animals.  I kept away from the meerkats then.

On Brett’s last day he asked me if we could go once more to look at the little family. He promised me he would not hurt them. Quietly we crept along the path to the meerkat tunnels. We hid behind the bush on our blankets, Brett was very quiet. After a short time, the meerkats came out one by one, they stood in a row sniffing the air and looking this way and that, their little paws hanging down over their chests. I saw a big smile spread over Brett’s face. He didn’t move a muscle. The meerkats played some fighting games. Finally, Brett couldn’t resist it. He just had to wave at them.  All at once they disappeared into the tunnel. We crept away.

‘Why did you do that, Brett?’ I asked.

‘I just wanted to show them I meant no harm.’ he said.

‘Ah, OK.’  What more could I say? It looked like he had learnt his lesson!

Questions

  1.        What name would you give to the story?
  2.        Did it remind you of anything in your life?
  3.        Who showed forgiveness?
  4.        In what ways do you respect animals?
  5.        Do you know what being cruel means?
  6.        How can we be kind to animals?

Ferret boy – a story about respect for one another

I wrote today’s story for the first years at my College (Special Needs Dept.) Lack of respect is a common problem. The story is also suitable for 10-11 year olds.

Ferret Boy

Thomas was sixteen. Everyone thought his name was Tom, and that is what he preferred to be called. ‘Thomas’ seemed a bit serious, ‘Thomas’ meant there was trouble ahead. Tom’s gran looked after him. His mum had left when he was very young and his gran had taken on the role of being ‘mum’. Grandad was there too. Tom thought he was great.  He showed Tom how to use a saw, how to hammer nails and to make things out of wood.

Tom kept ferrets. He had no brothers or sisters but he had a whole family of ferrets instead. He had started off with a female, Jess, he called her. She was not much bigger than a rat when she arrived. Grandad brought her home. A friend at work had given him the young ferret for Tom. They put her in a cat’s carrying box and went out to the shed to see what they could use to make a cage for her.  Tom had helped his grandad to make things out of wood, but he had never actually made anything by himself.

“You can make the cage Tom,” said his Grandad.

“How will I do that? I don’t know what to do.”

“I’ll help you; look I found this ferret cage design in the library.”

That was the great thing about grandad – he always planned ahead. He always took the trouble to work things out beforehand.

Tom sort of knew that somewhere in the shed would be all the bits and pieces they needed. Grandad would have seen to that already. He must have known about the ferret having babies for several weeks. He liked to give other people nice surprises, but not problems. The nice surprise was for Tom. The careful planning was for him.

“Let’s have a look then, Grandad, you tell me what we need and I’ll see if I can find it.”

“Right lad, here we go. Two metres of four by two…” and so the list started.

Tom picked up all the bits as his grandad listed them. He could see he would have to do some sawing and measuring, but he knew he could do it with his grandad’s help.

That had been three years ago, now Tom had a row of cages in the garage. He had made them all. Each cage was home to one or two ferrets and each cage was better than the last. Grandad had brought him a ‘jack’ ferret on his fourteenth birthday and over time Jess and Joss, as the male was called, had produced several young.

Ferret boy

Tom loved his ferrets more than anything. He would take them to country fairs in the summer. Grandad would drive and Grandma always sent them off with a good picnic. That was Tom’s favourite time of year – summer holidays – ferret racing.

Tom started college just after he was 16. He had never been very interested in reading or writing. He was a bit worried about how he would get on. He had decided to study farming as that seemed to be the best subject for him.

The students were a mixed bunch. Some of them were very keen on their subject, but a lot of them didn’t seem to care what they did. They were often noisy and rude to each other. They jostled and pushed and generally tried to see if they could make someone else feel small so that they could feel big. Tom thought it was a very strange way to behave. It was not how he had been brought up. He had been brought up to listen to what other people had to say, to pay attention, not to interrupt and to show respect for other people.

During a farming lesson, the second one of the term, Tom and his group were in the calf sheds. They were stroking the calves and getting to know them. One of the calves was standing in a corner by himself. The others were skipping around and jostling each other rather like the students at break time. Tom walked quietly over to the lonely calf. Its ears were hanging down and its eyes were half closed. It had a dirty wet backside. Tom stroked its head gently.

“What’s the matter with you?” he asked it quietly.

The calf lifted its head and looked at Tom as if to say, ‘I’m not feeling very well.’

Tom went back to the group and the teacher. He said he thought there was a poorly calf in the pen and that it should be separated from the others.

“Yeah, what do you know about it, you a farmer or summat?” said a large loutish boy.

“Let’s all go over and have a look at the calf,” said the teacher.

poorly calf drawing

The calf cowered in a corner. The teacher asked the large boy what he could see.

“Looks like a sheep to me, ha ha ha!” he shouted.

Some of the others laughed. The teacher turned to another boy.

“OK David, what do you think?”

“Looks alright to me – maybe it’s a bit shy, like Tom.”

More laughter.

“Mike, your dad’s a farmer, what do you think?” asked the teacher.

“I think Tom’s right. Its eyes are dull, it’s hanging its head, it’s scouring, that means it’s got upset insides – like us havin’ diarrhoea. Yeah, it’s poorly. We should take it away from the others.”

“Yeah, yeah, clever clogs!” said the large lad.

“ Alright, Damian,” said the teacher. It’s OK to get things wrong. That’s why you’re here – to learn. It’s also OK to get things right! Well done Tom and Mike. Very good.”

Mike walked beside Tom as they made their way back to College.

“You keep animals then?” Mike asked.

“Only little ones; ferrets. But they’re all the same, aren’t they?”

“That’s right,” said Mike, “You gotta look after them careful like, or they start dyin’ on you.”

Damian over heard the conversation.

“We lost a puppy last week. One day it was runnin’ around, two days later, dead! My mum was some upset,” he said.

“Didn’t it look sick or anything?” asked Tom.

“Well Mum said we should take it to the vet the day before. She said it looked poorly, but my dad said ‘don’t be so daft.’ So did I. Vets’ll con you out of thirty quid soon as look at you.”

“But now you’ve got no dog,” said Tom.

Damian looked sad. “No. I had it for my birthday. £350 it cost. It was a great little dog.” He shuffled away.

Mike and Tom looked at each other. Neither of them was surprised that Damian’s family had lost a puppy. People who don’t respect people are unlikely to respect animals. Mike shrugged his shoulders and the two boys walked back quietly, lost in their own thoughts.

Questions:

In the first part of the story who do you think Tom had great respect for? Why?

  1. How did Tom’s grandad show that he respected people?
  2. Did Tom respect his own animals? How do you know?
  3. What do you think about making others feel bad so that you feel good? What is another word for that kind of behaviour?
  4. Do you think the teacher showed respect for all of his students?
  5. Does Damian’s behaviour make you want to respect him?
  6. Do you think he is looking for respect in any way?
  7. Did he and his dad respect the life of their puppy or did they just think about saving £30, although they had already spent £350.

8. Does the story remind you of anything in your life?