|In Memory of Our Fellow Delta Society Member, "Grandpa Joe"
|Friday, February 26, 2010 |
You're never too old to start a new adventure. Joe Daniel was positive proof of that statement. Joe was a gentle, kind man with a heart as pure as gold. He was a very active member in his church and because of his commitment, he always believed one day he would provide some type of ministry work.
In 2007, Joe attended a Delta Society Pet Partners informational meeting here in Erie, PA. Joe brought his little buddy "Scooter" to the meeting. Within minutes, Scooter had all of us wrapped around his little paw. He had personality and could turn on the charm big time. His social skills were outstanding, but the one thing this little handsome dog lacked was obedience training. I asked Joe to consider basic obedience training with Scooter and then a few months down the road we would evaluate them as a team.
Joe made a serious commitment and began obedience training with Scooter. Four months later Joe and Scooter walked into the evaluation site and I couldn't believe the transformation of this team. Joe and Scooter passed the evaluation with flying colors. I welcomed them to the Delta Society Pet Partners program and Joe with a tear in his eye and a wide smile gave me a big hug and said, "This is the type of ministry work that has been planned for me".
Soon after completing all the steps to becoming a registered Pet Partners team and receiving his ID badge, off to work he went. Most of his work was done in the Social Services field. He had the type of personality that would mesh with all walks of life, young and old alike.
He spent most of his Pet Partners work volunteering his time at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA where one of our members is the Director of the Counseling Center. The students would visit Joe and Scooter and other Pet Partners during the "study breaks". These breaks were designed to give students an opportunity to meet and visit with the Pet Partners teams. Many of the students were not Meadville residents so needless to say, many of them were homesick for their own pets. It also provided the time the students needed to take their minds off books for a while and just hang out with the dogs. They would sit down on the floor and cuddle with the dogs.
I'm not sure who received the most therapy, the dogs or the students. It seemed like a two way street. From the frequencies of Joe's visits to Allegheny College the students gave him the nickname "Grandpa Joe". He was a great comfort to all of the young people he met along the way. Joe even shared Scooter with his church's congregation. Scooter and Joe made special guest appearances at the children's services at his church.
Joe had to face many health challenges in the past two years, but he didn't let anything stand in the way of performing his Pet Partners activities with Scooter. He was active with his dog until the fall of 2009 when his health would not allow him to continue his Pet Partners work any longer. He became hospitalized in December and spent his final days in a nursing home. The local Pet Partners rotated visits with their dogs and it was a comfort to him just knowing how much we loved him and to witness the joy he received from our Pet Partners team visits.
It was our pleasure to have known you Joe. We will meet again someday, my friend. We will meet again someday.
Guest Blogger and Pet Partners Team Evaluator - Erie, PA
|My saving grace? My dogs….
|Wednesday, February 24, 2010 |
|Brooke Mallory is someone I truly admire for her determination to find ‘furever’ homes for abandoned cats and dogs. I asked Brooke why she got involved with animal rescue and what motivates her to continue this endeavor ~|
It was 2006 A.D. (After Divorce). I was lost. My identity, my hopes, my dreams, my future -- destroyed. The depression was all encompassing. I withdrew from my family and friends. Almost daily, I’d come home from work and crawl into bed to escape the pain and avoid reality.
My saving grace? My dogs! Ottis, my sensitive boy, snuggled me close to keep me warm and comforted. And Sage, my energetic girl, never let me stay in bed too long. She nudged me in the mornings when it was time to go out. She danced around to remind me it was time to eat. Sage brought me her toys, placing each one in my lap to entice me to play.
Then one morning I was online and saw a plea for animal foster homes. A foster parent temporarily provides home care for an abandoned, abused, neglected or forgotten animal, while a rescue group searches for a forever home. Always an animal lover, I had contemplated fostering in the past, but the timing had never seemed right. This time, I could not shake the thought of those poor scared animals, abandoned and hurting, living in cages in the shelters or worse. I imagined them missing their people and feeling a bit like I did at the moment.
I had concerns and reservations about fostering. I worked a full-time job. Did I have enough time to give? Despite my fears, I made a monumental decision. I was going to be a foster parent!
My first foster was a bouncy, snuggly little soul aptly named Happy. He wiggled his way into my heart with his comical antics and boundless love. My own dogs were ecstatic to have a new playmate and without even realizing it, I was finding my way out of the fog of depression. My days had renewed purpose and structure as I set to task, helping Happy adjust to my home. I re-engaged with my family and friends and sharing Happy's rescue story. I was again beginning the process of living, all with the help of these three little souls.
Two weeks later the rescue group called to say they had found Happy an adoptive family. My newly-rediscovered world crashed around me again. How could I possibly let this boy go? I loved him so dearly. I cried all that night and morning before the adoption meeting, and vowed never to put myself through this pain again. Thankfully, Happy's new mother was wonderful, as was her senior dog. It was love at first sight for all and I was comforted to know he would be well cared for always. Even so, my heart ached for that boy. My newly mended heart felt like it had been ripped open again.
Still mourning the loss of Happy, about a week later I received a call from his new owner. Happy's owner was in tears because her senior dog had passed away that morning. She was driving home from the vet's office, dreading walking into her home without her old boy, when she gratefully remembered that she was not going back to an empty home. Happy was there! Waiting once again, to heal her heart like he had healed mine.
It was then I realized that Happy was never meant to be my dog. I served as an important stop along his life’s journey, but now he was home. As short as his stay with me was, it was a powerful experience for me and the remarkable beginning of my life, A.D.
Since that “Happy time,” I have fostered over a hundred dogs and a handful of cats and have loved every second. My own dogs are endlessly excited to meet their newest playmates. I still work a full-time job and find it is easy to fit another furry face into my routine. It means another bowl to fill, another nose to kiss, and another leash to hold. But that minimal effort on my part has meant life or death for many of these animals. And to my soul, it has meant life.
In February of 2009, after years of volunteering with several animal rescue groups, I co-founded Motley Zoo Animal Rescue and look forward to many more years fostering and saving the lives of animals like the ones who so graciously saved my own. ~
Ottis, Sage, and Happy showed Brooke the miracle of animals helping heal humans in their own unique way.
|Therapy and Service Animals - do you know the difference?
|Monday, February 22, 2010 |
Yesterday I was taking a walk, wearing a sweatshirt with the Delta Society logo, and someone stopped to ask me a question. She wanted to know if I could give her advice on how she could train her dog to become a service dog. As the conversation progressed, I realized what she really was asking was how could she help her dog become a therapy dog.
There are very important distinctions between service and therapy animals.
Therapy Animals are not legally defined by federal law. They provide people with contact to animals, but are not limited to working with people who have disabilities. They are usually the personal pets of their handlers, and work with their handlers to provide services to others, such as visiting patients in hospitals or the elderly in assisted-living care, help children learn to read, etc.
Service Animals are legally defined (Americans With Disabilities Act, 1990) and are trained to meet the disability-related needs of their handlers who have disabilities. Federal laws protect the rights of individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in public places. Service animals are specifically trained to help just one person, and are not considered 'pets'.
What is a disability?
It is any physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity. Activities such as walking, bathing, caring for oneself, and hearing are examples of major life activities. Some disabilities may not be visible such as deafness, epilepsy, and psychological conditions.
What can a service animal do for someone with a disability?
Service animals can be trained to perform a wide range of tasks depending on the needs of the particular person with a disability. They can be trained to guide people who are visually impaired. They can alert people who are hearing impaired to specific sounds. Animals can learn to retrieve dropped items, open doors, and assist the handler with balance.
How do local health and safety laws apply to service animals?
Remember, service animals are NOT pets. Therefore, local laws that restrict pets from restaurants, housing, and theaters, for example, are not applicable to service dogs. Therapy animals however are pets, so they do NOT fall under the regulations provided by the ADA. A good rule of thumb is that the ADA is the law that governs matters related to access to public places and businesses for people with disabilities accompanied by their service animals. But, handlers of service animals must obey local leash and vaccine laws and must have their dogs under control at all times.
Want to learn more about service animals – download Delta Society’s free Facts You Should Know About Service Dogs brochure.
Interested in exploring how you and your pet can help others by becoming a therapy animal team (one handler / one animal), check out Delta Society’s Pet Partners program.
Service animals and therapy animals – each help people live healthier and happier lives. Both are extremely important in our communities, just in different ways.
|Marketing Coordinator Position Opening
|Sunday, February 21, 2010 |
Delta Society has an opening for a full-time Marketing Coordinator in our Bellevue, WA office. Candidates will have diverse experience including website management, writing, graphic design, event management and strong interpersonal skills. Learn more.
|Show A Little Extra Love on Love Your Pet Day
|Friday, February 19, 2010 |
|Every February 20th is Love Your Pet Day. Seems easy enough, right? It sort of strikes me funny, like Valentine’s Day (is it a coincidence that it falls about one week from February 14th?) – do we really need a special day on the calendar to call attention to the love we have for our pets year round? I thought about it – and as someone who gets into the spirit of most Hallmark holidays- I think the answer is yes. But not just because of the cute cards. (Your pets won’t be able to read those anyway!)|
Even with my in-your-face Weimaraner, Luci, some days it is easy for me to not to take notice of all of the wonderful ways she brightens my day. So much of my day revolves around her, but this Saturday, I plan to make Love Your Pet Day all about her.
There are a few ways I plan to do this, mostly consisting of pampering her with the things I usually do not let her have (within reason, of course!) and taking her to her favorite off leash area (even if it is an hour drive from my house). Hey, maybe I will try a role reversal and give my dog all of the love and attention she usually gives me.
The Associated Content website offers fun ways to go the extra distance this weekend for your pet, here are some ways I thought I might try:
· Make your pet's meals from scratch instead of just opening a can or a bag of pet food.
· Get your pet a new toy or a new treat.
· Do something your pet loves to do. For instance, if you have a dog, take them to their favorite park and let them run around until they're exhausted.
· If you really want to indulge your pet, you could spring for your pet to go to a day spa or a salon catering to your particular animal.
Have a great Love Your Pet Day, everyone! In the true spirit of holidays, it is better to give than to receive- Let’s use this one day to bring the fun attention, love and happiness that our dogs bring us to flip it around on them. I would be curious to hear how your days went – and how much fun your pet had because of it.
|I didn’t want a dog…..
|Wednesday, February 17, 2010 |
|So says my friend Dr. Dennis Fried (but you can call him Denny!) ~|
Don’t get me wrong—I love dogs. Always have. A stray adopted my family when I was twelve years old and was my great friend and companion for the next fourteen years.
But now I was in my forties, newly married, with a career and hobbies and a love of travel. There was no room for a dog there. My wife, Katrina, disagreed. She’d grown up in rural Alabama, where dogs were a natural part of the landscape, and now her life with me was missing something essential. A dog.
Yet, I resisted. For ten years. Until the day when we were discussing the issue for the millionth time and, exasperated, I asked, “What do you want a dog so badly for?” And Katrina replied, “Because I need something to love.” And that was it. I knew that I had a choice: I could either find a marriage counselor, or consent to getting a dog, and I knew the dog would be a lot cheaper.
So Genevieve, a two-month old Papillion puppy, moved in with us and became the boss within hours. From the start, Genevieve was self-confident, fearless, stubborn, devilish, and brilliant. In other words, perfect. And as a writer, I found myself writing little vignettes about the world as seen, and “barktated”, by Genevieve. When Katrina started posting them on some internet newsgroups for dog lovers, Genevieve quickly attracted a number of fans who wanted Genevieve to write a whole book.
She did. Her first came out in 2000, Memoirs of a Papillon: The Canine Guide to Living with Humans without Going Mad. That was followed by More Memoirs of a Papillon: Diary of a Mad Dog. Genevieve toured the country, did dozens of TV interviews, and was featured in such publications as Time magazine, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, and Dog World magazine.
In May of 2009 Simon & Schuster came out with her latest, Small Dog, Big Life: Memoirs of a Furry Genius. (Genevieve is always quick to point out that she’s the furry genius, not me.)
Along the way, Genevieve helped me overcome an illness the doctors believed would be fatal. Genevieve accepted none of that. When I felt that I had no reason or motivation to get out of bed, Genevieve would leap on top of me and show me how wrong I was. When I cried from fear and frustration, Genevieve would climb into my lap, look me in the eyes, and wag her tail. “Let’s stop with this nonsense,” she was saying. “We have some serious playing to do.”
Genevieve is twelve now, in perfect shape (as am I). The dog I didn’t want has been a beacon of love, comfort, laughter, and even the muse for my quite successful writing career.
I’ve seen Genevieve put smiles on the faces of people who look like they haven’t smiled in years. Genevieve makes big tough guys melt and little girls (and big ones, too) squeal. She’s a people magnet wherever she goes. And we’ve heard from hundreds of people about how much joy and laughter Genevieve has brought into their lives through her books.
The little dog I didn’t want.
Yep, the wife was right. Again. I don’t know why I ever bother arguing.
Thank you Denny for sharing adorable Genevieve with the world. She is a brilliant storyteller – and I am so glad she helped you through your illness.
P.S. Genevieve can also be found on Facebook under her full name of Genevieve Highpoint La Reine.
|“If you want to have a friend in Washington, you should have a dog,” President Harry Truman.
|Monday, February 15, 2010 |
It is President's Day and I'm curious, how many U.S. Presidents had pets that might have helped keep their blood pressure a bit lower or provided a playful distraction from the heavy burdens that come with their position. So, to the internet I went. I guess I’m not the only one curious – I discovered there is a Presidential Pet Museum in Williamsburg, VA. Who knew? The museum’s website notes, “Children learn by association and what better way to educate visitors about our Presidency, than through the White House Pets."
What I learned in my research is that most U.S. Presidents since George Washington have had a pet during their presidency. Our founding father George Washington had 36 hounds and 12 horses.
Abraham Lincoln and his family had dogs, cats, goats, ponies, pigs and rabbits. A turkey was brought in – intended for Christmas dinner – but their son pleaded for its life. And thus, a White House tradition was born in which a turkey receives a presidential pardon every Thanksgiving.
Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, John F. Kennedy and so many others have shared their presidential time with pets as part of their family. Nearly 400 pets have shared the White House grounds.
While dogs have been the most prominent, horses come in second. There also have been cats, guinea pigs, hamster, parrots, canaries, rabbits, a wallaby, an elephant, a pygmy hippo and a few other species – the list is long. Calvin Coolidge was given a raccoon from a visiting dignitary. The raccoon was given the name Rebecca and President Coolidge walked her around the grounds on a leash.
Dr. Philip Schoenberg, a history professor at New York's College noted "Ulysees S. Grant was a horse whisperer -- he could tame anything. He often rode wild broncos in circuses because he could remain on frenzied mounts that bucked everyone else off. In a play on his first name, he was once nicknamed 'Useless' because of his [general] ineptness, but his ability with horses gave him confidence.”
On the Happy Tails Animal Sanctuary website, Mary Paulsell writes, “Not only do presidential pets serve to humanize their owners to the general public, but according to some reports, they have played a major role in reducing stress and serving as listening posts for the commander in chief in challenging times.
That's the great thing about animals. They don't care about our politics or whether we can balance the budget.
As they have sat at presidential feet in the Oval Office or on presidential laps in the White House living quarters, just imagine the history they have heard!”
As we take time to remember all the Presidents who have served our country, lets also send special thoughts to all their pets who provided them joy and comfort in their own unique ways.
P.S. Apparently the Truman's weren't a pet-loving family. While they were given a couple of dogs, they didn't keep them very long.
|Friday, February 12, 2010 |
The decision to get a puppy means a lot of things. It can be long nights of howling while your new puppy gets used to its new crate, it can mean practicing patience when a favorite pair of shoes is chewed. For one young couple, the decision to bring a new puppy into their home has meant opening their world to new hobbies, a positive change in lifestyle and even a new way to love.
Paul and Cindy had a fast lifestyle – they live in New York City, enjoy staying out late, trying new restaurants and seeing live music. The ‘city that never sleeps’ was created with them in mind. Last December, Paul and Cindy took a vacation to Florida. While there, Cindy’s sister-in-law took them to visit her breeder after they had mentioned that they were considering getting a pet. They fell in love instantly with a blonde Golden doodle- they took one look into his puppy eyes and decided he was the pet they were meant to have. They bought a crate, took him to the vet to be sure it was safe for him to fly, and brought him back to New York City.
It’s been one month since Buzby the Golden doodle has been a member of their family. I don’t think there has been a more photographed dog – Paul has perfected the art of picture taking while trying to get a picture of Buzby that completely captures his personality. This photography hobby was one that always interested him, but always took a backseat to other activities in their life. Cindy has gotten into the habit of making homemade dog food for their new companion, while also whipping up a homecooked dinner for the two of them. They have been so happy with their new hobbies that they hardly miss their old scene, and friends have commented how much more happy and rested they seem.
Since they live in an apartment building and are afraid of neighbors complaining about a barking dog if they left him alone, their Friday nights now consist of snuggling with Buzby on the couch, teaching him new tricks and being mesmerized by how cute he is. The couple who once spent all their nights on the town are now perfectly happy staying at home with the new member of the family. Paul says that they playfully argue each night about who gets to hold him. Instead of sleeping in after a late night on the weekends, they wake up early and take Buzby to Central Park for a walk.
Their priorities have shifted, their quality of life has been enriched... getting Buzby had unintentionally made them slow down a bit. They had cut back on the late nights and expensive restaurants and instead focused on home cooked meals and spending quality time in their home just with each other. Cindy describes the change as "a new love and way to celebrate life" ... one made possible in a way that only a pet can!
With puppy love,
|Beau was always there for comforting my tears and fears…..
|Wednesday, February 10, 2010 |
“My pets through life have been there for me. As a child, I was “different”, which of course is just another word for isolated. My little French Poodle, Beau, tiny terror to most, was my rock. Always there when I returned home from school, with his curly grey fur a pillow for comforting tears. He would stay with me until bedtime, when my mom banished him to his bed in the kitchen.
According to my parents, he sat by my bedroom door until he knew I was coming home, then he would run downstairs and stare at the dining room window, just waiting. As I entered the front door, he would start running around and around the dining room table in unbridled doggie joy. I would chase him; the he would chase me, nipping at my ankles.
I walked him three times a day, before school, when I got home, and then at night. He would do his male doggie sniffing thing, at one spot, always the same one, for what felt like hours. This was our time, outdoors, which I loved, together, safe. When it was time to go out, he would bark and bark, as he would when it was time to go back inside. When he did not want to go inside, he would not budge. If I dared to pick him up before he was ready, he whined. He won. He had me well trained and wrapped around his little paw.
He entered my life when I was 8. This was a difficult time for me. We had moved to a new town a few months before, and I was having enormous difficulty adjusting to school. I was also cripplingly shy, and did not make many friends. I had begged my parents for a dog since I was probably in the womb, and came home one day to a tiny black fur fluff with a grey patch on his tiny snoot. A friend at last, someone who I could trust, who trusted me, and a refuge.
I exited the tweens, and shed some of my awkwardness along the way. Friends came and went, boys entered the picture, rebellion, rolling up my skirts to micromicromicro mini at the bus stop, safe from my mother’s eyes (as it turned out, she knew!). Beau still waited for me, even though I had less time for him. We had our walk routines, which were annoying to me, from time to time.
I fed him twice a day, morning and in the evening. The morning routine was my favorite. I would give him a soft boiled egg (mother’s notion of good eating), and before I left for school or work, or wherever, I gave him his milk bone, a kiss and then a pat on the head on the way out.
The years began to make themselves known. His once cocky gait became bowed and slow, his mouth twisted to one side, as he probably had mini strokes. He lived until he was almost 16. I miss him every day.
I am so thankful Beau was my salvation from being so isolated and lonely at school.”
Karen Lyons Kalmenson is a friend of mine who lives in New York and has a fabulous blog where she dabbles in prose and poetry :)
Thanks for sharing your story Karen. Beau certainly influenced your life and gave you much happiness.
|Knowing the dogs' names...but not the people's.
|Monday, February 08, 2010 |
On Saturday, I took Belle to our 3rd flyball class. As I entered the room, I greeted all the dogs by name. The people I greeted with a friendly hello and a comment about their dog, but quite honestly I didn’t remember all their names.
We talked about the new coif Collette (black poodle) had just gotten, which lead to a discussion amongst many of us on the cost of hair care and manicures for people vs. our pets. I asked Zodiak’s mom, if he had any children read to him this past week – he happens to be a Pet Partner. I learned he had an exceptional week as parents brought their younger children to the library for a special session and Zodiak just relished in this new group – his mom beamed with pride.
Then on Sunday, Belle and I had an outing to the park. The muddy, soggy, grassy park. I couldn’t believe I was walking through all the muck, but Belle was having a ball, so of course I kept going. We came upon many of the regulars. There was Heidi (Dachshund), Bella (Labrador), and the always energetic Duncan (mixed breed). Each of their humans and I exchanged pleasant conversations centered around the dogs – and we greeted each others’ dogs by name, but no person’s name was ever verbalized.
Also in the park were a couple of people without dogs that I frequently see. As we came upon each other, a different thing happened, we just nodded and walked past each other, except for the one who stopped for a bit to talk about how Belle looked like she had been having fun – my white dog now had a brown underbelly and legs.
Isn’t it interesting how having a dog with us provides that ‘safety net’ for interacting with other people. And that so many of us have the ability to remember dog’s names but not people’s. I asked a few friends why they thought this happens. Here’s what they said.
“Connecting with a dog, more often than not, results in an unbridled, positive reaction. A dog is curious, attentive, and selflessly interested in you. People, on the other hand, are trickier. So meeting someone on the street has risk. It's easier for people to greet the dog rather than the person with them. Then, once that happens, changing the greeting to include the person takes effort on someone’s part. And, we know that humans will often do almost anything to avoid expending that sort of effort unless absolutely necessary.”
One of the most social people I know commented, “We go to the park on a regular basis. We know people by their pets. Quite honestly we aren't interested in the people, only the pets -- we just want the opportunity to pet them, give and get a little love with no commitment.”
Another noted, “When we are together with pets we say, "What's your dog's name?" easily but not "Who are you?" and the dog parent is always saying, well Rudy does so and so..." repeating it so often we remember!”
The mere presence of a dog (or other pet) makes us feel good. Their non-judgmental being makes it easy for us to connect – and want to connect – with them. But to get to know more about the dogs, we need to ask their human – so we start up conversations. The dogs become our bridge to human communication. Knowing we already have a common interest – dogs – makes it easy for two strangers to start up a dialogue. We remember the dogs’ names as they are center of these conversations - often there is no reason to know the person's name until maybe later in the relationship when other common interests may be discovered.
Meeting new people and feeling a stronger sense of being engaged in our community is just one more way our pets help us live happier lives. The world is definitely a more congenial place because of the animals in it.
Belle's Mom (JoAnn)
|'Hearts in Harmony' making a difference in lives of abused and at-risk youth
|Friday, February 05, 2010 |
Marilynn Pryor and her dog Katy are Pet Partners, as well as members of Hearts in Harmony in East Texas, a therapy animal group who believe that peoples' lives are enriched and changed through positive interactions with animals. They serve abused and at-risk children in their area and because of this early intervention by Hearts in Harmony teams, many of these children will have the opportunity to experience a healthy and nurturing relationship with an animal - a first step for many at-risk children in learning how they relate emotionally to another living being.
From the Hearts in Harmony website: ‘Hearts in Harmony is a nonprofit organization in Northeast Texas focused on delivering healing therapy animals to children in need. The dogs can do for these children what we humans can't... Dogs have an uncanny way of simply "being" and helping children to cope with the turmoil in their lives. Our weekly visits provide comfort and security to these children.’
Marilynn shares a little about her experience with Hearts in Harmony:
“My co-founder, Ruth, and I have such love for these kids that we see week after week, and such sadness for their plight. Many go off into the world at 18 when they age out of the system, with no earthly idea how they will make it on their own...and thus many become institutionalized for the balance of their lives, just in regular prisons vs. the residential treatment centers. We know we make a difference though, and hope for that intervention which is life-changing for them. Last night when working with the kids Ruth told them that her 8 yr. old Doberman had been diagnosed with malignant melanoma and very likely wouldn't live more than a few months. The younger boys (7-12) took time to each make "get well" cards for Simon and many of the cards expressed love for Simon as well as love and caring for Ruth. The older boys gave Ruth hugs, one 17 year old cried. They still have emotions, it's just that they get buried by all of their hurt. The dogs can bring them back into experiencing life again.
What all of us do with our dogs is so amazing, and what our dogs can do for others never ceases to knock me over. We've signed an agreement with Children's Advocacy Center here in Tyler, to begin bringing a few of our teams in for work with abused children who have to give testimony about their abuse and their abusers to attorneys and police. We are hoping not only to facilitate the process for the interviewers, but more importantly to make the process less painful and more comfortable for the kids. I love my dogs for all they do for us as a family and for what they innocently bring to the table as tools of the trade.”
Thank you, Marilynn for the important and life changing work you are doing in the community through Delta Society and Hearts in Harmony!
|Emmett is a rescued dog who has an uncanny ability to connect with children….
|Wednesday, February 03, 2010 |
Maggie Marton and her husband adopted Emmett from a shelter in Virginia in July 2006. The very instant they saw Emmett he was barreling toward them, full speed, dragging a tiny shelter volunteer behind him. His exuberance just radiated from his happy panting and wagging tail. He was 1 1/2 to 2-years-old, a hound/bully mix, and had bounced between shelters and a foster home for over a year. He was never leash trained and he had been starved, so they realized it was going to be a lot of work to help Emmett. But from the moment he arrived home they knew that he was really special. Emmett's story is a testament to both shelter dogs and bully breeds!
Maggie lived in a very busy neighborhood in a dog-friendly condo in Washington, DC. People and dogs were everywhere and within a few weeks, everyone knew Emmett’s name. He is friendly, outgoing, and confident, ready to meet new people, especially children. Whenever he meets a new person, he gives a full-bodied wag, and lays his head on their lap if they’re sitting or leans his full body against them if they’re standing. And though he’s indiscriminate about his affection, he has this uncanny knack for identifying people who need extra attention, whether they’re shy, upset, or just having a bad day. He will sit calmly with anyone who just needs a soft dog to rub. After they’d had Emmett for a few months, a local dog trainer recommended they find an Animal-Assisted Therapy program.
After moving from Washington, DC to Bloomington, IN., Maggie discovered that the Monroe County Humane Association has an awesome program called VIPaws that coordinates activities for Pet Partners teams. She decided to get involved with Delta Society because she felt like it was the perfect way to share Emmett’s natural love and affection for people. As a writer, Maggie knew literacy programs as being extremely valuable. She had recently learned of programs where children could read to dogs and knew that was one activity that she and Emmett could do through Delta Society.
She completed her training, passed the evaluation with Emmett,and they received their Delta Society Pet Partners registration in May 2009. Since then, this terrific duo has done a variety of activities like the Animal Reading Friends (ARF) program at the local public libraries, classroom visits in local schools, and even the county fair. Maggie says she has discovered that Emmett can’t get enough of high-energy environments, so he’s a natural for working with groups of kids.
I asked if there was a pivotal moment that stands out in her Pet Partners volunteer moments. “When I received an email from a kindergarten teacher who told me that reading to Emmett created a turning point for one of her students. After visiting with him at the library on several occasions, the student started to get excited about reading. She said he had improved so significantly that he moved up reading levels in class. She was so thrilled, in fact, that she invited me and Emmett to spend a morning doing reading and writing activities with her students. I was so incredibly proud of Emmett and his ability to connect with the students.”
If you’d like to follow Emmett (Emmett is officially into his sixth CANCER FREE month) and his furry friends, you can follow their adventures on Maggie’s blog at http://ohmydogblog.com
Emmett and Maggie are connecting people and pets each week.
High Paws to Emmett for beating cancer and being a grrrrreat Pet Partner with Maggie!
|Calamity Jane Rides Again - The Tail Of A Very Brave Rescued Golden Retriever
|Monday, February 01, 2010 |
A week or two before Christmas of 2008, a Good Samaritan stopped along a rural road in North Central Texas and picked up a beautiful and sweet Golden Retriever.
She had been shot and had been living with her dreadful injury for quite some time. He took her to the area animal shelter and that is when Golden Retriever Rescue of North Texas got involved. A volunteer drove to the location, picked her up and delivered her to Dr. Sue Hultman at Central Animal Hospital in Ft. Worth, one of the veterinarians who donate countless hours to this worthy organization. Dr. Hultman examined her and made the decision to amputate her front left leg.
Purely by coincidence, I visited Central Animal Hospital that day with my then current foster Golden Retriever. I begged my husband to come meet her with me and he stomped begrudgingly back to the recovery area. Of course, he stopped dead in his tracks when he looked into her beautiful Cleopatra eyes. I only had to debase myself, whining and pleading for a few moments, before arrangements were made for me to be her foster mom.
Christmas came and went and my whole family and friends grew to love her. Dr. Hultman didn't spay her at the time because she didn't want to put the poor girl through any more trauma for a while. Besides she was as thin as she could be. So I fattened her up with designer, holistic dog food and before you know it, this skinny little cowgirl had gained 10 pounds. I proudly and dutifully took her into the vet for the inevitable, mandatory spaying. Dr. Hultman took one look at her and knew. She immediately took x-rays and showed me seven little vertebras. Delivery was impending.
The next night at 10:40 the first pup popped out. I was asleep and my husband reached down to pick up a sock off of the floor. Only the sock was the first puppy. We quickly set up the birthing area and by 3:00am, we had seven beautiful, healthy puppies. Their names are Cat Ballou, Belle Starr, Rose Morgan, Pearl Hart, Butch Cassidy, Wild Bill, and Jesse James.
The story doesn't end here.
Soon after the puppies were born, Calamity Jane, as we named her, and my other two rescued Goldens, Jordan and Davey, stepped out into the front yard for their nightly break. All of a sudden, this shy, gentle dog with only three legs and a recent puppy delivery, turned into an agile Greyhound. To my utter amazement, she bolted to my next-door neighbor's yard, hackles up, in a violent frenzy of barking and growling. I imagined an onslaught of litigation, thinking she would catch and mangle my poor, sweet neighbor. My other two Goldens happily joined in the fray, but had been trained not to leave the yard. I then heard a car door slam and watched in shock as a car screeched out of their driveway and sped away. I quickly grabbed Calamity Jane and my other two agitated canines and went in the house.
Within minutes, the doorbell rang and my neighbor asked my husband to call 911, as they had been held at gunpoint and robbed for close to an hour. I went next door to offer comfort and the first thing they said through grateful tears was " the dogs scared them away!" I knew, more specifically, that Calamity Jane had scared them away. My other two Goldens have always worked in hospitals and are missing the street savvy that Calamity has had to develop. The next night and every night before and after this frightening event, Calamity had never raised an eyebrow. She had been afraid to leave the yard even for a therapeutic walk.
These questions haunt me still. Did she smell or sense the presence of at least four guns? Did she take exception to the fact that one human was being cruel and hurtful to another? After all, two of my neighbor's guests were children, ages 4 and 6, helpless just as she had been. There was shouting and crying that fell on my deaf ears, but not hers. She flew headlong into another risky situation, the only thing stopping her, my firm grasp to her collar.
Today Calamity Jane has officially been adopted by my family and she is living a very peaceful and loving life. She runs and plays ball with the other two Goldens just as if nothing bad had ever happened to her. I take her on outings that expose her to other people and especially children in hopes that she too will someday be a therapy dog in a rehabilitation hospital just like her brother and sister.
Thanks to Golden Retriever Rescue of North Texas, its many volunteers, foster and adoption families, Calamity Jane and all her puppies will be living safe and happy lives.
The best lesson I have learned from all of my adoption and fostering experiences is that it is infinitely better to adopt a rescued dog. It has never failed that these grateful souls know it and give their new family endless gifts in return for ending their suffering.
Thank you Shar for sharing this touching story of the power of the human-animal bond. Most of us reading your story recognize how our pets can help us live physically and emotionally healthier lives by just their sheer presence, but what Calamity Jane has demonstrated so bravely is that animals can sometimes save us from other humans trying to harm us. Congratulations to Calamity Jane who is one of the top 10 Dogs of Valor in the Humane Society's 3rd Annual contest - open to public voting.
Also, congratulations to you and Calamity Jane for recently passing your Delta Society Pet Partners Team evaluation! I look forward to hearing more stories of how Calamity Jane is making a difference in people's lives as she begins her therapy animal work.