Dear AGS Members,

Something that drew me very quickly into the AGS was its strong emphasis on ethics and standards. To a person, AGS members are dedicated to improving the characteristics of the breed and ensuring the well-being of every animal that comes into their lives (and collectively it seems that is a lot of animals!)

One way this is accomplished is by an emphasis on goals and specialties. Talk to any AGS member, and he or she will tell you about breeding goals. Some of us are breeding for mottled patterns or stunning self-colored gerbils, others for schimmel, or mainly for temperament. For all I know, some of us may be working on dwarf or mega-gerbils!

Our family’s passion is acquiring, socializing, placing and supporting gerbils in elementary school classrooms. This started innocently, as most things do, with three little female pups adopted into my younger daughter’s first-grade classroom by her extraordinarily kind and loving teacher, Deborah Davies. After that first placement, three more teachers quickly joined the classroom-gerbil ranks. 

All four teachers speak highly of the calming effect the gerbils have on the classroom. Children visit the gerbils when they are troubled and need someone to talk to. The position of  “gerbil helper” is the single most coveted job in the classroom. All the children know the rules of gerbil handling, and the older children in the grade 1 & 2 multi-age class pass down their gerbil wisdom to the younger ones. Teachers even use the gerbils as a way to quiet the room – “quiet, children, the gerbils are sleeping!”

The compassion and caring that the gerbils foster in the classroom seems to spill over to sweetening the relationships between children in the room, as well. Everyone shares a concern for the gerbils’ welfare, and these shared concerns are part of the glue that holds a classroom together. The classroom gerbils help give these children the precious gifts of ethics and responsibility, and let them experience the satisfaction of working together toward mutual goals.

I’m delighted that the children from Caroline’s class have provided us with some of their artwork to grace this issue of Gerbil Tales. This issue also includes a wonderful article on Phoebe, gerbil artist extraordinare, and a chance to meet Laura Pimás, our dynamic South American AGS leader from Argentina. Please take the opportunity in upcoming months to share your goals, specialties and stories with us through this newsletter!

Sincerely,

Libby Hanna

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