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Literature Link

Before You Were Mine


Maribeth Boelts


Adopting a shelter dog can come with many questions, but also endless love. A little boy imagines what life was like for his new dog before he adopted him from a shelter. He wonders about all kinds of situations, but realizes that none of it matters. Because now, his dog is home!

Character Education Focus:

  • Kindness can show up in many forms

Reading Objective:


  • Reflect upon the kindness of the little boy toward the shelter dog and discuss how the dog’s life might have been different had the
           little boy not shown kindness, using the following questions:
  • What were all the things the little boy wondered about regarding his dog’s previous life?
  • What do you think might have happened had the little boy not adopted the dog?
  • How does adopting a dog show kindness?
  • How does kindness show up in other ways?


Social Studies Objective: Children will learn how to greet a dog properly as well as what to do if they are afraid of a strange dog.

Using Odakotah, demonstrate the proper way to greet a dog you do not know:

  • Ask permission of the owner.
  • Let the dog sniff your closed hand.
  • Observe dog’s behavior.
  • If they show positive acceptance, then gently pet them on their head or back.
  • Let each child take turns using these steps to ask permission, observe, greet, and pet Odakotah.

Using Odakotah, demonstrate “standing like a tree” in the event that a stray dog comes near.

  • When a stray dog comes near, stand like a tree. Hands by your side. Stand tall. Look straight ahead. Do not make eye contact with the
  • Use Odakotah and allow each child to practice.

ASCA:A:A3.3 Develop a broad range of interests and abilities.

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