One of the things we experience as we tell people that we work with dogs to create social change is that they don’t have a clue what we’re talking about. At best. There’s also furrowing of brows, eyes rolling and the occasional snort.
Venturing into the vortex of social projects, social change and social impact is exciting as we know that dogs are the key to creating a sustainable change with the people we’re working with. However, other people’s eyes have a habit of glazing over when we start talking about it.
What do we mean when we talk about working with dogs to create social change?
In a business like ours, social change is a term that we use to describe significant shifts in behaviour patterns over time. For us, working with dogs to support us in enabling these changes, it’s important to understand that sustainable changes in behaviour do take time. When we discuss social change, we must also acknowledge the challenge of human nature. Society is made up of a complicated web of social relationships and interactions. Our projects are starting conversations that aim to positively impact upon those connections. Our Canine Hope programme makes fundamental changes and we rely on dogs to help us to do that.
With the potential for change comes the potential for resistance to change. When we design our projects and programmes, we have to admit that we’re offering an opportunity, not a guarantee. People who are struggling in an area of their life can feel unsettled or even threatened by potential changes. This is the reality of our business. Our dogs will be the catalyst for change, the teachers who can show that changes take time and that it’s ok to have fun along the way. Dogs can do this in a way us humans never quite get right!
We’re enabling social change, so by definition, we’re creating social impact. This is something that we’ve measured with the help of awesome researchers and you read more about that here.
What does all this mean in practical terms?
When we talk about working with dogs to create social change, we’re really just saying that dogs are helping us to help other people. We have a specific group of people who we’re passionate about working with and through the narrative of the dog; we can offer those people a new approach to changing their responses.