What is RUFF?
R.U.F.F. is a not-for-profit coalition of teachers, students, volunteers, and pets... (as distinguished from animals), organized for establishing homes for the Reservations Unwanted Four-footed Friends. ( R.U.F.F.).
Other goals for the group include (but not exclusive to):
- Teaching responsibility to students and parents alike.
- Extracting positive behavior from students as motivation and incentive where
conventional methods have failed.
- Teaching and incorporating self-esteem where all else have failed.
- Ridding the reservation of stray dogs and cats (hypothetically-long range).
- Using a natural catalyst... (puppies and kittens!) to extrapolate the expression of
feelings and emotions which would otherwise be harbored or unexpressed by the
child. (obvious psychological benefits)
- Rallying the class (as a cohesive group) to work for a common goal they value.
- Writing daily journal entries about their pets (journal notes are used to write a
report to be submitted for prizes, which enhance program).
This is all neat stuff... but expensive when you figure that these pets all receive shots, proper food and care etc., (T.L.C.!) before they are ever placed.
The kids receive a healthy pet... not a stray!
The good is apparent.
RUFF has developed 36 units of curriculum. Some of the units are available here, and more will be added as they become available. These are in Adobe Acrobat format. (Download Acrobat Reader here). You can open them in the browser, or download them to your computer.
Article about RUFF
Following is an excerpt from an article in the Indian Health Service Primary Care Provider, November, 1995, about the RUFF program, by Ted Fadler.
Chinle, Arizona. When the author came to the
Chinle Primary School on the Navajo Reservation to become
its principal, one of the things he and his wife, Susan
Fadler, noticed was the
number of stray dogs and
cats in the community,
many of them unhealthy
and malnourished. Within
two years the author and
his wife had developed a
program called RUFF
Four-footed Friends), a
nonprofit coalition of
teachers, students, veterinarians,
They encouraged the
community to become involved.
A place was found
to shelter homeless animals
Funding and donations
were obtained to provide low or no cost spaying and neutering
The purpose of this program has broadened from
finding homes for unwanted animals into a comprehensive
teaching and learning experience. Moving from the original
focus of sheltering unwanted animals, the author and
his wife took the opportunity to educate children about the
care of animals, and introduced the program into the classroom.
They saw students become motivated to write
when they focused on something they cared about: animals.
The children in the special education classes were
included as well. Mrs. Fadler states, "Taking care of
abandoned animals creates a point of identification for the
children in special education, some of whom come from
difficult home situations. One young boy asked, 'Do dogs
suffer child abuse?' For children who are withdrawn or
lacking in self-esteem, the RUFF program brings them a
weekly dose of healing love."
Susan Thomas, a counselor at Chinle Elementary
School, says, "The students are receiving many benefits
emotionally, educationally, and spiritually. They are learning
to appreciate all living creatures." Lori Hillman, who
was a fifth grade teacher at the school, adds that as well as
teaching kindness to animals, the RUFF program benefits
Thirty-six thematic units have been written that integrate
animals and the Navajo culture and language into the
school curriculum; this has been done by creating stories
about a fictional Navajo child, Willie Chee, one story for
each of the 36 units. Marjorie Thomas, who serves as
associate superintendent for Diné Studies for the Chinle
School District through the Dean C. Jackson Cultural Center,
provided the correct
Navajo language for the
RUFF curriculum. When
in doubt about a cultural
translation, Marjorie has
had a wealth of traditional
experts to call upon, including
men and women.
One such elder is Mike
Mitchell who has provided
the traditional narrative
to the Willie Chee
stories that accompany
the teacher lesson plans.
In the RUFF program,
the children are encouraged
to keep journals
of their experiences with
the animals. They write letters to their local newspaper
and to their congressional representative to express opinions
on issues that affect animals, and their creative writing
often has an animal theme.
Reading, a skill that correlates highly with future success
in school, is more interesting when students are
excited about the subject. The students' enthusiasm for
the RUFF project leads them to borrow and read books
from the school library about how to take care of animals.
Not only are these students reading more, their comprehension
has improved, as evident in their conversations.
The RUFF program has also been successful in getting
parents and other community members involved. Community
members with specialized knowledge volunteer
their expertise both in and out of the classrooms. In
addition, adoption activities in the RUFF program have
resulted in over 750 pets finding new homes in the Chinle
area from 1991 through 1994. Adoption of pets by children
requires a parent to sign an agreement. Animal care
information is provided for the parent and child. Activities,
such as dog shows, are held for families to share their acquired knowledge with others in the community.
Kim Draper, DVM, Chinle Veterinary Clinic, says, "All
life is sacred. Many of our Indian prayers include animals,
are about animals, or are to animals.
Programs like the RUFF
program are good because they
teach children our ways. Because
of the RUFF program, I have seen
children walk to the clinic with
their animals to get vaccinations
because 'Ms. Fadler said so.'"
While every effort has been made to insure reliable and accurate information, any errors or omissions are the sole responsibility of the webmaster, Rose Z. Moonwater.