Liam J. Perk Foundation: Dog Safety Awareness And Education For Families
After an unthinkable tragedy, the Perk family transformed their sorrow into a foundation that educates parents and kids about living with dogs
After darkness there is light. From the deepest pain come strength and the will to keep moving forward. Deep thoughts from a pet website, but after reading about the Perk family and how they turned the most heartbreaking experience of their lives into a truly inspirational movement, big words have to be written.
It was Christmas time, 2009. The Perk family – mom, dad, 2-year-old Liam, baby Lyla, and Weimaraner dogs Lloyd, 8 and Chessy, 10 – were getting ready for the holidays. We all know how chaotic preparations can be, especially with two small children. In all the commotion and the change of routine, the dogs were not as “entertained” as they usually were, meaning they were not getting the exercise they needed to release all the extra energy in their bodies. We’ve all been there – around the holidays, there’s just not enough time in the day, and our dogs can take a backseat to the festive preparations.
On the morning of December 22, Liam, his dad and Lloyd were all in Liam’s room going through the motions of waking up and starting the day. In rambunctious toddler mode, Liam jumped and ran towards the door, and just as fast, Lloyd instinctively ran to him, biting him in the neck.
The wound was too deep. A life cut way too soon. Liam was gone.
How do you come back from something like that?
After all that sadness, the logical response for some people would be to yell at the top of their lungs how dangerous dogs are and to keep them away from your children. But the Perks are not just parents, they’re also animal lovers. They understood, even in their deepest sadness, that the dog was just being… a dog. He was communicating in the only way he knew.
Related: The Basics About Dog Body Language
The family decided that instead of grieving in the dark, they would shine some light in order to avoid tragedies like theirs. They wanted to teach how to understand the canine language; how, by just observing their movements, know when it’s time for a good play session and when to just let them be.
That is the mission of the Liam J. Perk Foundation.
Educating the Community
After an extensive research and consulting with experts in the field, the Perks created the “Let’s Talk Dog!®” campaign, complete with posters and signs, spreading the message via easy-to-understand icons, teaching kids and adults how to interact with dogs. These can be set up at playgrounds, trails, schools, stores, and of course, dog parks.
At the forefront of the teachings are: how to properly meet a dog (none of that “ooh cute doggie, let me pet you!”), how to stand like a tree to defer an excited dog, and the most common signals of a stressed out dog (yawning is not boredom).
The campaign started in their hometown of Cape Coral, Florida, but their mission is to spread the message across the world. Dogs are part of our lives, no matter where in this planet you live and they all speak the same language. Out of respect or just to enjoy their company, it’s important for us to learn how to truly listen to them.