Lessons From a Puppy




So what do you think? That I'm cute? That I'm smart? That I remind you of a movie? Can you tell from my pictures that I'm deaf? Most kids are surprised to learn that I can't hear them when they talk to me, at least not with my ears. I can hear them with my heart, though...at least the important things that they tell me. I know when they're feeling sad, or frustrated, or lonely, or angry, or when they're so happy they just want to play with a puppy. It doesn't take ears to learn about those important feelings. It takes a big heart, and I have a giant one. 

Not too long ago I was born--with a pure white body and soft, silky ears that never learned how to hear. Pretty soon I developed black spots on the white-spots like polka dots. People tell me that I'll have even more of them when I'm a grown-up dog. I guess you could say that my polka dots are a visible difference, and that my deafness is an invisible difference. I may not look like or hear like puppies you may know, but I sure do feel a lot like them. I love to chew socks, and shoes, and just about anything else I can put in my mouth. I love to jump, and run very fast, and slide across smooth floors. I love to cuddle up in a small ball and fall asleep in children's laps. I love to do all of those things, but do you want to know what I love the best? Having friends like you, that's what, so I'm very happy that  you decided to visit my page.

Have you noticed that people think puppies are the greatest? All kinds of puppies. Long ones and tiny ones and spotted ones. Ones that have hairs that fall out and hairs that grow long. It doesn't seem to matter how different they are from one another. Even when they grow up to be dogs, people accept them for the way they are. People like babies, too, even when the babies have differences that you can see. The problem is that when babies with differences grow up to be kids, sometimes they have a hard time being accepted by other children. 

Do you know any kids who have differences that you can see? What about differences that are hidden, like those that make it harder for them to play, or more difficult for them to stay healthy? Sometimes children don't tell anybody about those types of differences. I guess they're afraid that they'd get teased if other children knew that they had heart disease, or diabetes, or muscular dystrophy, or a zillion other medical problems; that their friends would stop being their friends. Isn't that sad? 

I hope that if you know children who have some differences--differences that make it hard for them to be accepted by others--I hope that you'll ask them whatever questions you have. When you learn more about the differences, I know that you'll want to learn more about the kids, too. That's how friends are made. Friends make me happy, and I bet that when you make new ones, you'll find that you've become happier than ever, too!

So those are my lessons (I'm sure that you've heard them before). To be kind to the people you meet, no matter what sorts of differences they have. To include them in your games. To make them your friends. And when you just don't understand something about them, to trust them with your questions. I'll bet if everyone would do that, the world would be a better place. Don't you agree? 

Thanks for visiting my little page. I thought that you might be interested in these pages as well.

American Society for Deaf Children
Are you a child with a skin disorder?

 Love and wet kisses, Kosmo

To the frog ponds
To send me a note
To the site map

Joan Fleitas,  Ed.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468

Last updated: November 14, 2004