This Educator Is Using Her Dog to Tell Stories

We’ve all had it rough with the new social distancing rules that are implemented in society. The current pandemic has brought some serious challenges for everyone. among the most impacted groups are the children who are no longer able to attend their classes at school. Karen Gross, former president of Southern Vermont College realized that kids are taking a big emotional hit because of the new social rules in place. Isolation can create mixed feelings and children may need help processing their emotions and thoughts. Gross found a unique way to help them understand and cope with the new normal.

Educator uses a dog to help kids cope

Gross created a book and then made a video about it for YouTube. The book uses a dog to help kids understand the whole social distancing practice. His name is Wrinkles and the character is based upon her own dog with the same name. Wrinkles is unhappy because he doesn’t like social distancing. He loves interacting with people and with other dogs, but he, along with his human family, is quarantined for everyone’s own good. He doesn’t understand why the regular schedule of fun and activities that he has enjoyed so much has come to an abrupt halt. He used to get to go to the dog park as well as other great places.

The reason for the book

Gross understands that the common belief that kids are loving the time off of school is a myth. A day here or there is fun but the kids who have been used to the social interaction and structure of the school year have had their worlds turned upside down, just like the rest of us. This isn’t like a snow day. Kids can’t go to school and see their friends and teachers, and they can’t go to one another’s homes to play either. There are no vacation trips or going to the mall or park to hang out. They’re staying at home with the adults and it is truly a traumatic experience. The kids have feelings about this as well as adults. The book is intended to help them process their feelings about the situation. She uses the dog as a character that kids can relate to. The story encourages kids to talk about what they’re feeling and to share what they are going through. Isolation has an impact on young and old.

We’ve learned from the past

Although this is something that most of us have not experienced before, the pandemic of 2020 does draw some parallels to the flu of 1918. John Bowlby studied the impacts of being sent to the hospital on children during this time. While his research focused upon the harmful effects of separation from parents, it does shed some light on the impacts of separation from the required stay at home orders. Bowlby’s attachment theory was developed from the former pandemic and it points to the fact that there is a need to learn more about how separation from peers, teachers, caregivers, and others that are a part of kids’ lives affects them. It is unsettling to have our normal routines disrupted for an undetermined period of time and it creates feelings of instability and even loneliness.

Impacts of isolation on an only child

Younger children no longer have the opportunity to play with peers. Those who have siblings at home at least have others to ease the loneliness. Children who have suddenly been required to stay home with adult parents who have no siblings around may become lonely and even bored. The research will be necessary to learn the effect that the current isolation will have on the only child in a family who no longer has children in his or her own peer/age group to play and interact with. It’s going to take time before we know the full impact on the kids who are forced to leave their peers and social circles to remain in isolation.

Finding solutions

Gross’ book about Wrinkles and how he navigates through his new routines, and the ways that the new rules have changed his life. It is a tremendous resource for getting children to talk about how they feel. This is the first step in helping them to cope with a world that has changed around them. The kids can relate to Wrinkles and as the central character, the possible emotions that a child may be feeling are expressed through the feelings that he is dealing with. This is a brilliant approach to opening up the conversation because many times young children do not express their feelings. Instead, they just keep them inside. Experts propose that parents who are attentive and who are quick to establish new regular routines can help lessen the impacts of isolation for their children.


A savvy educator has written stories about her dog to help kids sort through their feelings about isolation. The main character in the book goes through many of the situations and has questions that mirror what human children are likely to be experiencing due to the changes in the world around us. Wrinkles don’t fully understand why his routine has changed so much, and this runs parallel to the changes that most kids are going through due to quarantines and isolation. The book is more geared towards getting kids to identify with the dog and to start asking questions, opening up a conversation so they can talk about their feelings. We have no way of knowing how these changes will affect kids as they return to a new normal after the crisis passes. It’s a new age and it’s been more than 100 years since the last major pandemic took its toll on the nation. The best thing that we can do is to try to create a new sense of normal and keep our kids in the most dependable routines possible to enhance a sense of security.

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