Our only male dog works for his biscuits. He is a "donation" dog for Animal Protective League and he makes trips to schools to visit students in classrooms. Most recently he went to be with about 50 students during two periods of history.
Although he's not up to speed on world or even local history, Tripp helps demonstrate the importance of pet care. Together we talk with students about pets' needs. It turns out we can conclude pets and people need a lot of the same things - food, water, shelter, warmth (clothing for us), and love.
The basics give us all a better sense of worth, of well-being. When we have these we can provide them for others. We can pass it forward or return a favor. We can become ambassadors for better living right in our own neighborhoods.
The students we visit come from very broken homes. If they have pets often they are treated as things not living beings. Already that creates a similarity for them; as children in these homes they are not much different from the other "things" there. Respect, gratitude, kindness, gentleness, love - those characteristics, those human skills are not learned at home. The children rarely know these qualities exist let alone that they can be recipients and givers of them.
Sometimes it takes a dumb animal to teach what we need to know most.