Can A Litchi Save Dogs and Children?

Well now, there’s a question!  We all know that a Litchi (Lychee to some) is good for you – it’s a fruit after all.  So the question is, how can a Litchi help children and dogs?

Yesterday, I was privileged enough to return to Rivonia Primary School, in Johannesburg.  Previously, I met with the Grade 5 pupils, which was fantastic.  This time, I met a very special group of children, from Grades 6 and 7 who, as an extra-mural activity, choose to give up their time doing charity work!


The group, called ROAM (Rivonians On A Mission) is an outreach program, focusing on giving back to the community, teaching children the importance of being helpful, compassionate and generous.  They raise funds and donations throughout the year for animal shelters, orphanages, old-age homes, etc.

This is where Litchi comes in.  Remember my “unadoptable”, supposedly “people aggressive” dog (Lady Litchfield – or Litchi for short)?  Early posts tell her story – pop back and have a look.

Nowadays this “difficult” dog helps me with such an important task.  We were invited to do our “Kids and Canines” course for ROAM.  Litchi assists me, demonstrating body language.  It’s a hectic course, covering the whole realm of dog body language and requires Litchi to move around with, in this case, 38 pupils plus teachers, staying calm, friendly and open to being touched and crowed by everyone.

Litchi loves it!  


So, the answer to the question is a resounding YES.  Litchi is helping to save children from frightening encounters and dogs from frightening shelters.  No dog will feel threatened around these children, who now know the signs to look for – they speak DOG.


Filed under Adoptions, Dogs and Children, Litchi's Story

78 responses to “Can A Litchi Save Dogs and Children?

  1. It’s great that Litchi has made such progress and it’s great that children are learning to understand dogs.

  2. Litchi is just gorgeous!!! Great work!!!

  3. Nothing better than educating children about the danger signals with dogs. Many dogs are frightened of children because they’ve had unfortunate experiences with little ones – the same a some children with dogs! If they all understand each other, they’ll get along just fine. Well done Litchi and well done you for bringing about this wonderful transformation 😉

    • Thanks so much. Some of the kids admitted to being scared of dogs at the beginning but were delighted to greet Litchi at the end. So much goes into the course – I just have to try to keep the posts short enough that people will actually read them.

      It’s kind like a pay/paw it forward – trying to ensure that the next generation of dog owners and adults understand these wonderful creatures a little bit better. Heaven knows, I wish I’d had this knowledge years ago.

  4. How cool! I love that Litchi is able to teach these kids such a valuable lesson!

  5. Yay for Litchi (I love Lychees and rambutan too)!
    I like when I see kids that they speak dog, they know how to approach a dog, I’ve seen the difference it makes with Doggy.

    • Makes such a difference when people, of any age, understand how you dogs talk. Children are just much better receptors for this – they have fun learning it and now have the knowledge for life. Dogs speak with such subtle body language that it’s difficult for people to understand but, once they know, it changes everything.

    • Thanks Misaki, she really enjoys it. I, for my part, feel so proud of her – having had a difficult and scary start, being terrified of people and now loving all of them, no matter the age or sex. I’m such a proud Mom.

  6. veraersilia

    Good work, good work! lucky l Litchi and lucky everyone to have you around.

  7. Good for Litchi! So much for unadoptable and people aggressive….she just needed the right venue to SHINE!

    Kitty Hugs, Sammy (and his Mom too!)

    • Thanks Sammy (and Mom – Sammy’s Mom that is, not mine – although I should think I could say thanks to her for something as well?!). Anyway, yes, so much for people aggressive. She couldn’t enjoy herself more. Her tail wags through the whole class, she adores the kids and any kids that have been in a class before, shout out her name as we walk through the school. All it took was a bit of time and a lot of confidence building.
      Head Butts (that’s from the Springbok, obviously)

  8. This is so great! Nice work both of you.
    Bella and DiDi

  9. Wonderful outcome for Litchi. Good work!

  10. If my arm was a wee bit longer, I’d reach out and pet her too! (just doesn’t reach from Pennsylvania!) Way to go, Litchi!! 🙂

  11. Awww! What a beautiful dog ♥

  12. I love the creative name, Litchi, and it is great to see how happy she is with her new found purpose in life. ❤

  13. Loved this post, was thinking about the Turkish attitude towards animals which is slowly changing but still has some way to go

    • Thank you so much. Yes, there are so many countries where the attitude towards animals has a very long way to go but, even in the countries where we think it is fine, there are always people that need to be educated. Hopefully, with enough effort, a whole bunch of the next generation, will be far better.

  14. what a wonderful post ,amazing group of children and adorable Litchi 🙂

  15. Hey Litchi, Jet here.

    Fantastic work, pet therapy if you will. You changed lives yesterday, today and going forward. 🙂

    Also, you are BEAUTIFUL… so nice to see you in the photo.

  16. Terrific news about your work with LITCHI and involving her in educating kids about canine body language. Education is the most powerful tool and I hope you both keep spreading the word out Keep up the great work 🙂

    • Thank you so much. We’ll continue as long as anyone lets us. Knowledge is the one thing that no-one can take away and, hopefully, with each group we can help, we have a dog speaking bunch of future pet owners. Hopefully that also helps fantastic people like yourself, when their dogs come in for consultations.

  17. I always knew Litchies where the best 🙂 Great work!
    I have an award for you, because I was thinking of you 😉

  18. Kat

    I love reading/hearing about dogs making such a difference in people’s lives!

  19. murphydogs

    What a great thing Litchi is doing, and thanks for not giving up on her.

    • Thank you – she really is doing something fantastic. I could never have given up on her. In fact, she is why I do, today, what I do. She is the one that, in order to be able to help her, got me studying animal behaviourism and now, teaching wherever I can to help others. It’s all because of her and for that, I am grateful. She changed my life as much as I changed hers.

  20. Chancy and Mumsy

    Litchi is gorgeous and what a wonderful thing happening between her and children. It must be so rewarding to watch this amazing dog do that. Hugs and nose kisses

  21. It’s wonderful that the Rivonians are helping other children in the community – well done Rivonians! Litchi is lovely! 🙂

  22. Litchi gives me hope for Charlie Machete!

    • Indeed! Now you can see why I have somewhat of a soft spot for Charlie Machete, even though we’ve never met. The second I first saw his picture, I thought of Litchi and the more I read your stories about him, the more I continue to think of my journey with Litchi. I so wish I lived closer and could help out with him. There’s always hope, though. Rooting for him to find an understanding forever home.

      • Aww, thank you! Truth be told, I wish we could just keep Charlie Machete, but that’s a bigger discussion that involves more than just me. 😦
        I hope you know that even though you are far away, your support for us is very real and meaningful. And I am inspired by all of the experiences you share with us. Thanks for being a long distance friend!

  23. What a fabulous success story for everyone – well done to you and to Litchi xx

  24. Great idea! I know a few adults who could have used such training when they were younger. Perhaps they wouldn’t have been bitten and wouldn’t be so afraid of dogs today.

    • Absolutely! Couldn’t agree more. I might look at expanding the course for adults but it is the children who are most receptive and they are such fun to teach. The students at Rivonia Primary are simply a fabulous bunch.

  25. This is fabulous! What a wonderful service to dogs and kids!

  26. Free chairs for Litchi!

  27. That’s a wonderful thing you are doing. I wish we had more of that here in the states. Education is key and if we can start early enough, we can eradicate a lot of issues!

    Litchi is gorgeous!

  28. This is so wonderful! I got goosebumps reading it! 😀

  29. What a wonderful program! Litchi is sure a beauty inside and out 🙂

  30. Awesome! If only everybody could learn to speak dog!Body language is everything and if people understood what it meant so many problems with dogs would never happen.

    • Thank you. You would certainly understand the importance! It always amazes me how well dogs manage to get on with people, when basically, we do everything wrong regarding body language and understand so little. If it weren’t for Litchi, I’d have remained as ignorant as ever. Sometimes it takes a challenge in life to force us into learning what we need to know. Now that I’ve been gifted that knowledge, it’s only fair to pass it on and hope that I can reach at least some people who will now understand and eliminate any “dog problems” in their environment.

      • I think dogs often read our body language far better than we read theirs! They use it all the time between themselves to communicate so I guess it comes naturally to them. With us it’s more of a learnt art since we don’t generally take that much notice of each other’s body language.

      • Yip – as soon as we learnt how to talk, we forgot how to look! I try to teach the kids what the dogs are seeing in their body language as well.

      • That’s a good way to put it! lol 😉 Teaching the kids about the body language is awesome, keep up the good work!

  31. Super article and what a good thing you and Litchi are doing! It is an amazing skill for Litchi to be around so many people and remain calm. He is skilled like a therapy dog 🙂

    • Thanks so much 🙂 Really appreciate it. Litchi just loves it. Her tail wags constantly, the entire time we are there. You’d think she’d grown up doing nothing but being a “therapy” dog. No-one would realise what a hard background she had. Oh, by the way, everyone calls her a “he”. I guess it’s the tough Pittie look that does that. 🙂

  32. That is really great and that is a really nice picture of Litchi.

    • Thank you. Litchi just loves it (which is so great considering her hellish start in life). She’s not as well trained as you guys but I feel proud of her managing to have got this far – it’s a real achievement. The kids just love her!

  33. That’s so awesome! I’m crossing my fingers that there is a similiar program here in the United States! You are doing amazing work!

    • Thanks, you are so sweet. I have no idea if similar programs are running anywhere. I had put the course together as one of my thesis assignments when studying animal behaviour (obviously, from my point of view, everything I did was aimed in some way to prevent animals from landing up in shelters in the first place). It is quite a comprehensive course and covers all aspects of dog body language and interaction between people and dogs (specifically children). Maybe I should look at a trip to the States to do a program there. How fun would that be!

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