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Helping Animals

The Real Martha

In addition to teaching new vocabulary, Martha Speaks has another important mission: to help children and families understand animals, animal safety, and the importance of ending animal cruelty and homelessness. Many of the show's episodes incorporate information about how to treat animals humanely, be a responsible pet owner, and support animal shelters.

On the show, Martha is a shelter dog who is adopted by Helen and her family. The real dog named Martha, who inspired author Susan Meddaugh to write the popular children's book series, was a stray. "[The real-life] Martha has given me more than I could have ever imagined," Susan explains. "What if we hadn't adopted her? We would have missed so much. And it makes me sad to think of all the dogs in shelters, and all the love and surprises they could bring to a forever home of their own."

Visiting a dog shelter


Whether you are a parent, teacher, afterschool leader, librarian, camp counselor, youth worker or just someone who loves animals, you can join Martha and her friends in helping animals. The following resources will help you get started.

Event & Activity Ideas
Mix and match these fun ideas for kids and adults to come together, get involved, and make a difference!
Episodes to Watch
Watch these Martha Speaks episodes that include issues such as pet adoption and animal safety.


Use these handouts at home, in school, or at an event.

How Martha Became a Talking Dog
Find out how Martha acquired the ability to speak in this one-page cartoon.
Meet Martha, Her Family, and Friends
This colorful guide shows you who’s who in Martha Speaks.
M-A-R-T-H-A Song Lyrics
Sing along with these lyrics to a Martha Speaks version of B-I-N-G-O!
Dog Bone Bracelet
Children can decorate and cut out these shapes to make dog bone friendship bracelets.
Friendship Card
Use this template for any writing activity or to create a tag kids can attach to items they donate to shelters.
Hello, Doggy
Help kids learn about how to approach animals safely and kindly.


These resources will help you and your child better understand dogs and the importance of responsible pet care.

Helen holding a puppy Martha
Understanding Dog Talk
Educators can use this K–2 lesson plan to help children understand how dogs communicate.
Recommended Books
Share with your child the importance of the humane treatment of animals and stories about dogs by reading these books together.
Pet Advice from The Humane Society of the U.S.
Find out important information and helpful hints about pet care.
Tips for Pet Safety
Watch this video of Helen and Martha explaining some great pet safety tips.
Watch Video