Monday, December 12, 2011

One of my internships

One of my internships will be at a facility for people with developmental and mental challenges. The program director, Joann is really nice and really loves the people she serves. While I was there finding out when I would be working, a fire alarm rang. I was escorted outside to the meeting area. The clients of the facility saw me and asked to pet me. They really liked me and I liked having them pet me. They told me that they wanted to see me when I came back to work there. It didn't matter if they were in wheelchairs and could barely reach me to pet me. I saw the smiles on their faces and it made me smile too.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I Passed my Final Competency Test!

Today I had my final competency test at an extended care facility. Since both my mom and grandma (or sister and mom depending on which one you talk to) were also being tested I got to go through that facility twice! There were so many really nice people that I got to see. Several of them asked me to give them kisses which I love to give! They really know how to pet a dog! I was so happy to be there. I loved seeing their faces light up when they saw me coming! It really makes me happy to visit them. One lady told me all about the dog who used to be her companion and how much she missed her. The test was to see how I behaved around the people at the facility and how treated them. The ladies that were testing me told me how well I did! They said that I was a natural!

Now on to the next step. Since both my sister/mom and my mom/grandma are doing internships, I get to do two internships! At the end of the internship, if I do well, I will become a certified therapy dog! I'm so excited!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nursing Home/Assisted Living test

I just realized that I forgot to let you know that I passed the nursing home/assisted living center test the Saturday before last! The test was to see how I would do walking around the facility and visiting the people that live there. The first people I got to visit were sitting down in the dining room having their lunch. The lunch smelled so good, and I wanted to try some, but I know my manners! I didn't even beg. I visited with this nice lady in a wheelchair who petted me. She held her hands out for me to kiss! I visited some other people in the dining room too. Then we went into several of the rooms where the people weren't able to join the others in the dining room and had room service instead. We visited with two really nice gentlemen in the first room. I think one of the men wanted me to jump up into his bed with him, but there really wasn't room for me to do that and so I stayed right next to him so he could pet me.

There were some things that had fallen on the floor that I saw when we walked by. I was told to leave it because there could be medicine that would hurt me on the floor or some other spill that would be bad for me to lick up. I listened because I knew that they wanted me to be safe.

We visited with some really nice ladies in their rooms too. They all love dogs and were happy to see me! They were sad when I had to leave the room so that their meal could be brought to them. Then I got to visit the people in the dining room again and see the lady in the wheel chair one more time.

The people there were so friendly and nice. they all seemed as happy to see me as I was to visit them. I love being around people and being petted. On November 19, 2011 I have my final test and then start my internship. I am so excited about being a therapy dog!

The Mall Test

I love it when my family gets my harness and vest out of my bag. I wait quietly while they put them on me. I know that this is not just a normal walk that we are going on. It will be something special. On Saturday, I was taken to the mall to see how I would handle all of the excitement, distractions and people. There were lots of noises and brightly colored lights and interesting smells at the mall. Especially as we neared the food court! I walked quietly by Jacqie's side. There were children that ran up to me and wanted to pet me. I stood quietly while they stroked my fur. One boy asked if I gave kisses. Sure enough I gave him some! There were small children in strollers and small children sitting on benches that wanted to pet me. I was thinking that it doesn't get any better than this! I love being around children! I was sad when we left the mall and walked back to the car, but glad that I passed my test. I'm that much closer to becoming a therapy dog!

Kandu - an amazing little dog who really can do!

A Windwalker friend, Noreen, posted a story about a Jack Russell terrier that was born with only two legs. The person he originally lived with took him to the local animal protection league to be put down because he didn't think the dog would have any quality of life. Then he was adopted by a family near Steamboat Springs, Colorado, who made a device for him to wear so that he could run around just like any other dog. They even made a ski for him to use in the winter! They named him Kandu as in he can do anything! Kandu also is a therapy dog! He brings hope and comfort to those he visits. I love hearing about another dog to inspire me as I start my work as a therapy dog! To see Kandu in action, click the link below:

Friday, November 4, 2011

It's Flu season - for dogs too!

A spike in dog flu cases has been reported through the United States and although I can not give it to my human family, it resembles the flu that they might get. Listed below are some links to information about dog flu.

Dog flu mostly resembles kennel cough. The most important thing to remember is that if your dog shows any of the symptoms of dog flu, keep them away from other dogs! Since it is spreads from the dog coughing or sneezing, it is easily spread. If your dog gets the flu, please call your veterinarian to find out if treatment is needed.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Friend's Poem and Story

Two of my springer spaniel friends, Guinevere and Theo's  mom, Cynthia Vanaudenhove, sent me this poem and the story that inspired it. Please enjoy reading, but any other use must have Cynthia's written permission since she holds the copyright. Her contact information can be found at
Why I Wrote the Poem
The poem was written because of my Professional Pet Assisted Therapy with a wonderful lady at Zambarano Hospital who has known all 6 of my dogs;  Fallon, Abigail, Scout, Tucker (all 4 gone now) and now Guinevere & Theo. She had an especially strong bond with Fallon and Abbie and had formed a sort of "secret" relationship with them. They would sit close and seem to share secrets. It was amazingly touching. She was their favorite client..or shall I say special friend. And she said goodbye to Fallon only days before Fallon passed away. When I came to tell her, I brought Abbie with me, who sat with the lady as she cried about Fallon's passing. It was deeply emotional but strangely wonderful. Nothing like it! So this is to honor Fallon, Abbie and their special friend...who sadly I cannot name....shhhh its another secret..but my dogs know who!
-Cynthia Vanaudenhove

I'm bringing you Joy on all fours!
by Cynthia Vanaudenhove

God said:
I have a job for a dog.
I'll give him all fours, then he can carry my joy
A wagging tail and a smile, that's what the job requires
Joy on all fours he will do.

And dog said:
I'll bring them your joy on all fours!
That's what I will do

I'll share my toy or shake my paw
I'll sit by your chair or touch feet on the floor.
I know what you see, just a dog, but much more.
Do I remind you of a one that was once yours?

I'm able to reach out and willing to share
I'm soft, I'm gentle, I simply show you I care
Yes for you I am here.. Do I hear a tear?
Do I see something that is hard to bear?

My eyes are sharp, when yours are not
I see deeper than most. A person, and a life, I see what they don't, I see quite a lot!
My ears listen when your voice stops
I can hear what others forgot

Tell me your story, I'll tell you mine.
We'll talk a while and then I'll give you a sign
A sign that will be simply between you and me
A paw that will mean, “ I see, I see”.

My touch speaks to your soul
Your soul is alive and so full.
“What? They can't hear it? “
“Shhh .They aren't a dog.....I'll tell them all. “

I'm bringing them joy. Joy on all fours.

Joy that makes glad & opens the doors
Joy that turns rain into beautiful bows
Joy that creates smiles from once hidden by sorrows
Joy that sings songs that take us through tomorrow

I wish they could see what I see – God's beings
I wish they could hear what I hear –  voices singing
I wish they could touch what I touch – truest feelings
I could tell them so much – it would be healing

But between you & me it will be
Too bad they can't be me
But God made me a dog not a frog or a tree.
He made me to feel and hear and to see
So I could sit beside you today and make you free

I'm bringing them joy on all fours

You see Joy times four is so much more!
Just let me bring them what I'm made for
That's why God made me a dog not a moth or a boar
I'm bringing them joy on all fours
Joy is for life, for love and for all.
I'm bringing you joy on all fours.
Now they call me a therapy dog, but I'm just a dog,
A dog God made to bring you His Joy on all fours!

 © 2011 C. Vanaudenhove

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rest In Peace Rocky

West Warwick Animal Shelter reported on October 27, 2011 that Rocky lost his valiant attempt to recover from his ordeal. Rocky was the dog found starving that I mentioned in a couple of previous posts. In the end, his kidneys shut down because of Lyme disease.  Rocky was loved by the people at the shelter and they took good care of him. Rocky had people checking the West Warwick Animal Shelter facebook page to see how he was doing. People who cared what happened to him.

Please talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating your pets for Lyme disease. Give them their flea and tick treatments every month, and have your vet test them for Lyme at their annual check-up. My vet gives me the Lyme vaccine and she checks for Lyme when I have my blood-work checked at my annual exams. Even with the flea and tick treatment, my family often finds ticks on me. Be vigilant! Please keep your pet safe.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy National Cat Day

From the description of National Cat Day below, It seems like cats do the same things for their families that us dogs do for our families. My family has visited nursing homes and extended care facilities have resident cats that are given free roaming privileges to go visit the patients that they feel like visiting, when they feel like visiting them. They provide services just like us therapy dogs.

National Cat Day, October 29th, was founded in 2005 by Pet Lifestyle Expert & Animal Welfare Advocate Colleen Paige to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of cats that need to be rescued each year and also to encourage cat lovers to celebrate the cat(s) in their life for the unconditional love and companionship they bestow upon us.

So if you have a cat in your life, give them some extra love and special kibble today to thank them for all the unconditional love that they bring to your life.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Update on the starving dog

When I blogged about this poor dog, nobody knew much about him. They found out that his name is Rocky. The police have located the owner and are currently investigating to find out if Rocky escaped or if he had been neglected. Rocky has a very advanced case of Lyme disease that is causing his kidneys to shut down. The West Warwick Animal Shelter (RI) that is taking care of him said that after his blood work came back the vet recommended that he be hospitalized right away. They said that Rocky is still eating and drinking and  making a little progress everyday. The outpouring of support and offers to adopt Rocky on the shelter's facebook page is wonderful to see. At this point Rocky is not available for adoption until the police finish their investigation.

Animal shelters perform countless acts of kindness, helping dogs like Rocky to get better, or helping to reunite a lost pet with their human friends. I'm glad that Rocky has such nice people helping him to get better and caring for him. If you are able to donate to your local shelter, I know that they would appreciate your support.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Support Animal Shelters

At this time it is not known if this dog escaped and couldn't find any food to eat or if he was neglected. My dog friend Glady's companion Heather just posted on facebook about this dog that was found starving on the border of Warwick and Cranston, RI. Either way, it highlights the good work done by the shelters, and the compassion of the good Samaritan that found the dog and cared enough to put him in their car and go for help. The vet has examined the dog and he is heart-worm negative, but Lyme disease positive. The shelter has started giving him treatments for Lyme disease.  The rest of the results of his blood work will be back in a few days. He is currently eating the food the shelter has provided and resting.

If you are not able to care for your pet, please call your local animal shelter or Humane Society to find out what help is available.

Support Animal Shelters!
Animal shelters are great places for you to find a sweet, temperament-tested friend for your family.  My bothers Toby (RIP) and Amaretto were adopted from shelters. Shelters also need your donations to help them provide for the pets in their care. Helping the shelters and the animals that live at the shelters will really make Sahara Smile!

Register Now for new DJPPAT certificate Program Classes

The coursework that my human companions are taking in the DJ Professional Pet Assisted Therapy Program started with a class on the ethics, practices, history and research into Pet Assisted Therapy. In addition to reading and discussing the textbook, every week people who were certified and working in Pet Assisted therapy came to talk to the class to talk about their experiences in a wide variety of institutions. They  also brought their family pets that had been trained and certified to help others! Those pets are the real heroes of the program! There were also field trips to different locations where the therapy pets work to see those amazing pets in action and the important work they do! I'm looking forward to the day that I first am able to do the job!

If you are in the Rhode Island area and are interested in the program, there is a link below, and also on the side bar to find out more about the program. You can register now for the classes that begin on March 13, 2012!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Friends Rosie and Star Receive Canine Good Citizen's Award

My friends Rosie and Star received their Canine Good Citizen's Awards. Rosie received hers this summer and Star received hers last weekend. Rosie and Star are in my class training to become Pet Assisted Therapy dogs with me. I'm going to work hard to earn my Canine Good Citizen's Award too. This is a separate class and test than the Pet Assisted Therapy training, but is something to further reassure people that I have learned my manners and know how to behave properly. This is important when arrangements are being made for me to visit a new facility where the people in charge have not met me.

Congratulations Rosie and Star!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Training class update

My training class on Wednesday had me going to a facility for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Because it was late in the day, most of the people had gone home, but I got to meet a few of the clients. I loved having them pet me. One little boy was afraid of dogs, but I lay down on the floor so he wouldn't be as scared. He touched me ever so slightly and then I kissed his hand.

The training was to see how I would react visiting a place I'd never been before. They checked to see if I got upset riding on an elevator; if I would walk by my companion's side on a linoleum floor, walking up and down stairs and going through a series of doors. I was also being tested on how I reacted to people I didn't know approaching me in a new environment. I think that I did a good job. The lady, Joanne, that works at the facility was so friendly and nice! Maybe I'll get to go back there sometime.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nevada's Cooney's law

Last week in Nevada a law went into effect making animal cruelty a criminal felony. It took lots of people in Nevada getting upset and demanding change after Cooney, a shelter dog, was tortured with a box cutter and killed by his "owner". It makes me so sad to think that there are dogs out there who are intentionally hurt by the people they trust. I can't even imagine it since I am a dog that is treated with love and respect, given lots of attention and everything that I need.

Laws like this are not only important to given justice for the abused animal, it is also important for society. There is a well documented link between people who abuse animals and people who are violent and abuse other people. Investigators discovered that serial killers like Ted Bundy and Jeffery Dahmer were known to have tortured animals when they were children. There are even organizations, such as the National Link Coalition, fighting for animal rights that document the link between violent criminals and earlier animal abuse.

If your state does not have a law criminalizing animal abuse, please call your legislators. Please don't let abusers get away with abusing and killing animals.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Abandoned dogs

Last night on the evening news there was a report of two dogs that were abandoned by their family. The family moved out several weeks before and left the dogs in the third-floor apartment without food or adequate water. They showed how the dog's ribs were sticking out. I wanted to cry seeing how desperately hungry the dogs had become. One of the dogs was so hungry that he jumped out of an open window in an attempt to find some food. The poor dog broke his hip in the fall. Both dogs were emaciated and needed to be taken taken to an emergency veterinary clinic because of starvation in addition to the one that needed emergency surgery on his hip. The police are trying to track down the owners. Criminal charges are expected to be filed. Please click on the link below to see the news report.

Abandoned dogs

I hear my family talk about how these are tough economic times and how people don't have jobs and can't find work. Most likely these people could no longer afford to take care of their pets. Instead of being cruel to them, they should have contacted the local animal shelter or ASPCA to find someone who would be able to care for the dogs. They were probably also afraid of trying to find someone to adopt their dogs because they are pit bulls. Pit bulls are known as a "bully breed" and some towns have laws outlawing pit bull ownership. Most of the bad reputation is related to how the dogs were trained or treated. I have a pit bull friend named Gladys that is the sweetest dog and would never hurt anyone. She has been treated well and has been trained how to behave. She is a certified Pet Assisted Therapy dog and has given her unconditional love to the people she visits. She only wants to help people, just like I want to help people!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Groups Help Senior Citizens Stay With Their Pets

Today we talked about an article that appeared in the local paper. It was about how senior citizens often do without things that they need in order to have enough money to keep their pets. Pets give their companions unconditional love and their human companions want to make sure their pets are taken of properly. The benefits of the bond between seniors and pets was not discussed in the article, but the importance is evident by the seniors doing without food or medicine in order to take care of their pets. The article talked about how people can help seniors take care of both their pets and themselves. There are mostly local organizations that provide assistance, like the one in Dallas, Texas that was featured in the article. Two national organizations were mentioned in the article that help provide food or other assistance. The article also had some advise on to how to find help in your area. Here is a link to the article that appeared in the paper.

Like all labs I like to have a full tummy, but I know that my family also needs to have something to eat. It would make me very happy if someone is helped by reading the article in this blog.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A friend came to visit

This afternoon I heard a noise at our front door and went to check it out. I knew that Jacqie was home from school, Lin was working on the computer, and Terry wouldn't be home for a while, so it had to be someone else. As I poked my nose around the drapes to see who was there, I saw a beagle pawing the door with her eyebrows knit together. She looked scared and sad. I ran to the door and jingled the bells to let my family know to come to the door right away. When they opened the door, they met Sammy, the beagle who was so glad to have a human find her. Immediately she started wagging her tail.

My family checked out her collar and found a tag with her address and phone number. Sammy lived on a very busy road. Cars and trucks often speed down the road. Lots of school buses go back and forth down the street. There is a fire station nearby so fire trucks and ambulances also race down the street several times a day. Immediately, they called the number on the tag and left a message. As they started walking towards the Sammy's house, the phone rang. It was Sammy's family, so relieved someone found her and called them. They said that they'd be right over. As we walked to the corner we saw someone from Sammy's family come running around the corner. He ran so fast I thought even I would have a hard time trying to keep up with him. The family had been looking for Sammy and was so worried about her. When the boy got to where we were standing Sammy started wagging her tail so fast and jumping around for joy!

We were happy to have helped Sammy find her way back home. She had fun running around with me as we were walking  towards Sammy's house.  Sammy's family was so very happy to have home safe and sound. I love happy endings!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Look beyond the differences

My family received images of a baby hippo that was orphaned in the December 26, 2004 tsunami.  After the hippo was rescued from the disaster, it met this centuries old turtle and they formed a strong bond. The message of the email was: "...that our differences don't matter much when we need the comfort of another. We could all learn a lesson from these two creatures." 

I tried to post the photos from the email, but they would not show up since they were copyrighted. It is too bad I couldn't share them with you because they really did a good job of illustrating the message of the email. My family was able to find the images by searching baby hippo and giant tortoise in Google. There were even more photos to look at than there were in the email. There are even several books that were written about their relationship!

Their relationship reminds me that people are amazed that my brother Gizmo, the hamster, and I get along so well. When they first see us together, they are amazed that I don't chase him and try to eat him. I would never do that! I know that if I did anything to hurt Gizmo, it would really hurt my family. Besides he really is sweet. Gizmo likes to crawl around and rest on my back. It tickles when he crawls around on me, but I kind of like it too. I know that my family loves Gizmo just like they love me.  

"Look beyond the differences and find a way to walk the path together."

Hero Dog Awards

Today I found out about eight dogs that are finalists in the 2011 Hero Dog of the Year awards. Their stories are inspiring! All of these dogs have gone through special training and have provided service to others in the community, just like I am learning to provide. There are eight categories that the finalists represent; law enforcement/arson dogs, service dogs, therapy dogs, military dogs, guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, hearing dogs, and emerging hero dogs. Each category is unique and each dog has done amazing things. I hope one day to be able to help others and will remember their stories to inspire to do great works!

Today is the last day to vote for your choice as to who should become the Hero Dog of the Year, but I hope that their stories will continue to be available to inspire others. These few dogs represent the countless others that are in the community each day making the world a better place. Please click on the link below to read about these amazing dogs! Thanks to a Windwalker Humane Coalition friend, who let me know about these amazing dogs!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A story of love and hope!

I want to share this story about a dog named Harper because the story really upset me at first. I wanted to cry I was so upset! Then the story transformed. It became a story of love and hope. After examining Harper, who was discovered in a garbage bag, shelter workers and veterinarians said that the most humane thing would be to euthanize her because of her condition. Erica Daniel, a shelter worker that fosters dogs, wanted Harper to experience being loved before she left this earth so she took her home for one day of love.  Once getting home, Ms. Daniel started giving Harper a massage hoping to make her feel better. The something amazing happened. Please click on the link to read this amazing story!

Erica Daniel showed what a difference love can make in the lives of others. After I finish my training, I’m hoping that I can make a difference too! After all love is one of my 4-L’s!

Thank you to the Windwalker member who shared this story!

Monday, September 26, 2011

September Windwalker Humane Coalition Meeting

On Saturday my family attended the September Windwalker Humane Coalition meeting. My mom told me that Windwalker was described as "A unique, passionate, and energetic voice for people and animals via PPAT" (Professional Pet Assisted Therapy) by her friend and mentor, Pearl Salotto. Pearl is the founder of the DJPPAT program that we are attending. Mom said that Windwalker liked what Pearl said so much that they put that quote up on their website!

When they got home from the meeting they were talking about the guest speaker Marlo Manning's organization Fairy Dogparents and the great work that they were doing in Massachusetts. This organization prevents dogs from being surrendered to shelters due to temporary financial crisis. My mom showed me this video of an NBC news report about the organization.

I know how brokenhearted I would be if my family had to give me up, and I know they would be totally devastated to have to give me away. It made me so happy to see Marlo bringing dog food to a family who did not have the money to feed their family dog. Even with a full belly, my stomach started rumbling to see the food being carried into the house. I am a lab after all and I love to eat! They even help with veterinary care if the family can not afford it. Marlo told the people at the meeting how it breaks her heart to have to turn down dogs that need her help because they do not live in Massachusetts, but she hopes that others will be able to start an organization in their state. She'd even give them information on how to set it up!