Thanks to doggies.com reader, Firefighter Dayna Hilton of Clarksville, ARK for sending us this information on Sparkles, a rescue dog who has become a fire safety trainer.
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“We love you, Sparkles!” has been echoed by thousands of young children since Sparkles
came into my life in May 2003. Sparkles was adopted from the Dalmatian Assistance League in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Previously, she lived a challenging life, but was rescued from a home with 62 other dogs. Although the adoption process was quite lengthy, we were very excited to finally welcome Sparkles to her new home in Arkansas.
I knew Sparkles was special from the day that my husband and I first met her. On adoption day, her demeanor was calm, and I observed that she loved interacting with children. I will always remember how gentle she was toward the children who were around her that day.
Since moving to Arkansas, Sparkles has become an invaluable member of Johnson County RFD #1’s Fire Safety Team in Clarksville. Sparkles, and her adopted friend, Spanner, have assisted department’s firefighters with hundreds of fire safety programs on the local, state, and national level. Sparkles and Spanner have come a long way since their days before adoption. They have participated in a Congressional briefing in Washington, DC, appeared in newscasts around the country and on FOX and Friends in New York City and helped deliver fire safety tips on PBS KIDS Sprout (now on Sprout On Demand) and online at www.sproutonline.com/firesafety, reaching millions of children and their caregivers nationwide.
Sparkles has been highly involved in all aspects of the department’s fire safety program. For example, she has been featured on activity sheets and projects and has assisted with hundreds of fire safety presentations. One program highlight is the Reading with Sparkles project. Initiated in 2004, firefighters and Fire Corps members read fire safety books once a week to kindergarten and first grade classes at Clarksville Primary School.
The Reading with Sparkles project allows the department to measure what fire safety messages children have retained since exposure to previous fire safety presentations. After a fire safety related book is read to the children, they are asked specific fire safety questions based on previous programming. The educator then spends time focusing on those messages that need reinforcement. Not only do the children enjoy a book, he or she learns about fire safety in a fun way. The reward for sitting quietly is a special Sparkles fire safety sticker and the opportunity to pet her at the end of the session.
Another benefit of the Reading with Sparkles project is that it provides motivation for children to read. At the conclusion of reading the book, each child is given a drawing of Sparkles without her spots. The boy or girl is told that after reading a book of his or her choice, he or she can draw a spot for each book read. When the child draws a total of five spots or more, he or she is given a special Sparkles bookmark by his/her teacher.
Sparkles’ connection with children and her ability to share fire safety messages has been truly amazing over the years. Not only does she have the ability to connect with children, there is an instant chemistry when she mingles with adults as well.
Sparkles has recently become the star of the new children’s fire safety book and audio book, Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog, available from Firehouse Dog Publishing and at Amazon.com. The premise of the book is simple. Sparkles, my four-legged Dalmatian friend, shares her enthusiasm for helping teach fire safety. The book also provides children and their caregivers with the most current fire safety messaging, allowing children and their caregivers with the opportunity to be fire safe.
Sparkles and I are excited to share this book with children and their families. The support on this project from Oklahoma State University’s Fire Protection Publications, First Alert and Robotronics as well as many friends and numerous educators has been extraordinary. It is my hope that not only will this book be fun to read again and again, but that it will help save lives as Sparkles strives to promote fire safety everyday.
To learn more about Sparkles, visit her website at www.sparklesthefiresafetydog.com or her blog at www.sparklesthefiresafetydog.blogspot.com. Sparkles bio is available online at www.firehousedogpublishing.com/press_room.
ntil next time,
Good day, and good dog!