Introducing Working Animals

3, 4, 5

This lesson is designed to help the learners understand that animals and humans can work together as a team.  Many animals perform tasks that are vital to our existence and/or enhance the quality of life (enhance the common good). Many animals meet specific needs in communities, including search and rescue dogs, therapy animals, comfort and companion animals, and more. The students will learn about some extraordinary working animals and understand each individual’s responsibility to treat animals in a humane way.

PrintOne 45 minute class period with additional time needed for research and development of informational pamplet

The learner will:

  • define trust and common good.
  • define working animals.
  • list animals that have jobs and what they do.
  • describe the importance animals have to the common good.
  • Internet access
  • Book, Hanni and Beth: Safe and Sound by Beth Finke
  • Paper and art supplies
  • Various research materials about working animals
  • Teacher Resource: Animal Assisted Interactions /resources/animal-assisted-interaction
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework: Send a letter home to families telling them about the unit and the service learning project. Be sure that the learners share information with their families about what they have learned. This information will be shared in Lesson Two.



  1. Anticipatory Set: Read the book, Hanni and Beth: Safe and Sound by Beth Finke. Through class discussion of the book, create a list of the things that Hanni provides for Beth as her working companion. (Protection, safety, comfort in strange situations, confidence, etc.) Create a list of things that Beth Provides for Hanni (food, water, a home, care). During the discussion, lead the class to understand that this companion relationship benefits both Hanni and Beth because of trust. Define and discuss trust, as needed.

  2. Explain that there are many working animals that humans depend on and trust for their assistance. Ask students to brainstorm what they think “working animals” means, then supply the following definition, if necessary. Define working animals as "animals kept by humans and especially trained to do specific tasks." These animals make the quality of our lives better and benefit all of us (common good). Challenge the learners to brainstorm a list of working animals and how their job benefits an individual and/or the common good.

  3. Show the PBS Kids slide show on working dogs and read (or ask for student volunteers to read) the descriptions (If internet connection in the classroom is not available, the teacher can print the information to share with the class.) After viewing the slide show, ask the students if they learned about any new animal jobs. Add those to the class list of working animals.

  4. Referring to the class list of working animals, discuss why, in many instances, an animal rather than a person may be better suited for a particular job. (Guide dog – a visually impaired person would need another person with them most of the time. Therapy dog or cat – research shows that petting an animal lowers a person’s blood pressure, and that some patients will respond more cooperatively to therapy that involves an animal. Narcotics-sniffing dog – greater physical ability to smell.)

  5. To conclude the lesson, show the Pet Partners video about Animal Therapy for improving human health through service and therapy animals, found at

  6. After showing the video, have the students reflect on what they saw by using the cooperative learning strategy Think, Pair, Share, asking students to think about one thing they learned, turn to a neighbor, andshare with each other.

  7. Homework Assignment: Ask the learners to consult family members, friends and other sources to discover at least two additional kinds of working animals, and to be prepared to add to the class list during the next lesson.



Assessment for this lesson will be primarily subjective, based on the learners’ class participation and understanding of the information shared. The teacher will check for understanding of the terms used in the lesson.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Identify ways that trust is important in all communities.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss why some animal colonies work together.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.6 Identify and describe fundamental democratic principles.