Just love this *side* command

Here are two video clips from a recent training session with Duke and two other dogs. He was very good! We worked on basics as the other two dogs were an added distraction, but he was ultimately very focused. =) Duke is a one year old, Golden Retriever, in training to be a service dog. His training can be followed on Facebook at: facebook.com/dukeintraining .The other two dogs are Puppy (a chihuahua) and Ginger (a poodle mix). Puppy knows a few more behaviors than just sit, including “side” which he happily demonstrated in the video. Ginger is new to training with multiple dogs and was quite good at focusing..

Golden Duke comes from Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs, Inc. (TLCAD), a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation established in 1998. It is dedicated to the training of service dogs for those with limited abilities in the county of San Diego.

TLCAD, just one of the hundreds of the fine service dog organizations located worldwide, is included in our foundation’s listing found here.


It gets better . . .

Dogs don’t judge. They provide unconditional love & support. They think you’re amazing, just the way you are! If you’re being bullied, or not living up to someone else’s expectations, check out this video where you will be immediately accepted and loved for who you are by a young Golden Retriever who has been where you are!

Ricochet gets bullied… she had expectations placed on her & she didn’t live up to them.  Disappointment, sadness & frustration resulted. But, it got better, and she wants you to know, you can do it too! Just stay true to yourself & rise above the bullies and expectations because IT GETS BETTER!

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Also, be sure to click here
for the page we’ve created for Ricochet.

And man created dog

Luis Carlos Montalvan and Service Dog Tuesday

Golden Retriever Tuesday is an incredible service dog who helps an Iraq veteran to overcome his debilitating PTSD. I have posted about this wonderful team several times (here, here, here, here & here), and they are featured at my Mitigating a World of Hurt – Psychiatric Service Dogs Stepping up to the Challenge webpage (landofpuregold.com/sitstaysoothe.htm).

Well, now they are going to be a part of what looks to be a wonderful documentary airing Sunday, August 8th, at 8pm est / 9pm pst on the National Geographic Channel.

and Man created Dog

As detailed at the National Geographic Channel site, “If humans were as varied as dogs we would range in height up to 22 feet tall and in weight more than 1,000 pounds. In the ultimate canine ancestral story, NGC traces the genetic journey from wolf to dog, taking viewers back 100,000 years to meet the “mother of all dogs.” It’s no accident that dogs evolved this way, as humans have been selectively breeding them for around 14,000 years to serve our needs as laborer, companion, hunter, herder and warrior, as well as to suit our aesthetic fancy.”

The dog is considered to be the most varied mammal on the planet. This variety is a due to human tinkering – or artificial selection – that began more than 15,000 years ago, when humans began selecting traits they wanted or needed in their canine companions. Here are some interesting facts detailed about our favorite furry family members:

  • The world’s fastest breed of dog, the Greyhound has an astounding heart. A 65-pound greyhound’s heart is about the same size as that of a human athlete weighing twice as much, yet the running greyhound’s heart rate beats twice as fast as the running human’s: about 310 to 340 beats/minute vs. 170 to 210 for the human.
  • The only animal that can accelerate faster than a greyhound over a short distance is a cheetah.
  • One of the greatest challenges for canine athletes is the grueling 1,000-mile Iditarod sled dog race in Alaska. Scientists found that the average husky burned 11,000 calories a day – or about eight times the proportional calories a Tour de France cyclist burns. In addition, the dogs take in triple the oxygen of human athletes.
  • A dog’s sense of smell is much more sophisticated than a human’s. While the strongest odor overwhelms all others to our noses, the dog can differentiate a myriad of scents simultaneously. Dogs devote 40 times more brainpower to smell than humans.
  • Dogs have vastly superior hearing than humans, but they are born deaf, with their ear canals sealed. They cannot hear until they are about two weeks old. When they mature, they can hear sounds at four times the distance we can.
  • The human ear is fixed, but a dog and tilt, turn, raise, and lower their ears to pinpoint the origin of sound. They can also work each ear independently of the other.
  • Dogs can be taught to understand well over 100 spoken words. Dr. Stanley Coren says the average dog can be taught as many as 165 individual words – more words than an ape can recognize.
  • Dogs communicate with each other by using body language as well as vocalization. The tail is the most obvious signaling device. Here are the definitions of some dog tail positions: Tail up and curved over the back: confident pose of the dominant dog. Tail tucked between the legs: sign of fear, submission.
  • One of the most human gestures of a dog is the yawn. But while we yawn to increase oxygen flow, a dog’s yawn is a sign of anxiety or stress.
  • Dogs cannot smile, so their happy expression is a slightly open mouth with the tongue slightly draped over the lower teeth.
  • Modern-day needs have led to modern-day breeds. The Labradoodle, a cross between a Labrador retriever and a standard poodle was originally bred to create an intelligent, easily trained guide dog for blind people with allergies to retriever dog fur.
  • Dogs not only have acute sense of smell, but that they can be trained to use that sense to help us. Most remarkable is the experiment where five ordinary dogs were trained to detect breast and lung cancer in the exhaled breath of people. Their detection accuracy was between 88 and 97 percent.
  • The dog is the most varied mammal on the planet with the extremes of variation so dramatic that they achieve two orders of magnitude — ranging from the two-pound Chihuahua to the 200-pound mastiff. In height terms, the range is from the not-quite-seven-inch-high dachshund to the three-and-a-half-foot-tall Great Dane.
  • While variations in most animals are a result of natural selection, the vast variety of widely differing traits we see in dogs is the result of human-directed artificial selection. Now a study by scientists at the University of Washington has found that such breeding has altered 155 distinct genetic locations of dogs that could account for such breed differences as size, coat color, texture, and behavior.

Patriot Service Dogs ….. *Golden* Justice for All

Could anyone ever find the words equal to the powerful message in this photo? I don’t think so. (Be sure to click on the photo, and then again, to see a glorious supersized version.)

Tim Shelton, director of the American Legion Riders Florida Chapter 137, and Justice, a 5-month old Golden puppy who is being trained by Patroit Service Dogs. This chapter held a bike show event, raising funds to sponsor dogs for disabled veterans. (The Florida Times-Union, Don Burk)

Learn more about Patriot Service Dogs and Golden Retriever Justice’s progress here.

And, go to sitstaysoothe.htm to learn more about the work our special canine angels are doing for those in the military.

A great recipe … but so bittersweet

I just received the most glorious sugar-free, gluten-free, organic birthday cake recipe. It was sent for my Bone Appetit Recipe Contest.

It was sent by Sharon Wachsler who made it for her Gadget’s ninth, and last, birthday. Gadget worked with Sharon for seven years, trained via positive methods such as the clicker, and provided a critical function for increased independence despite her disabilities.

Sadly, Gadget was diagnosed with Lymphosarcoma in May 2009 and then with a Mast Cell Tumor in September 2009 (which sadly took his life on 11/19/09). A Working Dog Grant from our foundation was utilized for some of Gadget’s chemotherapy treatments.

That means that tomorrow, I will be mailing Sharon a FREE full-sized $9 bag of SuperTreats Pro-Digestive 100% Fruit Chews!

Golden Rover: bringing balance to his partner’s life

Danielle & Rover at Mystic Education Center 1-28-10. Photo by Tim Cook/The Day

East Coast Assistance Dogs is a fabulous group that breeds and trains Assistance Dogs for clients with a wide variety of disabilities and needs. They are one of the many fine groups that are making a difference. And, they recently produced a Golden happy ending for the Ciccotti family, providing them with a Golden Retriever Service Dog named Rover.

Danielle Ciccotti needed someone she could lean on. For years, she walked the halls of her elementary and middle school in Preston, Conn., leaning on Walker, a homeless dog trained as a service dog.

Then Walker grew old and died. Danielle, 15, went from walking alongside her classmates to sitting in a scooter, feeling isolated and grief-stricken.

Danielle has ataxia, a neurological disorder that affects fine and gross motor skills. She can walk short distances, but otherwise needs help. Her speech is sometimes hard to understand.

The human-canine bond is a strong one, and that much more special in a service dog partnership. These dogs are not pets, never straying far from their partner’s side. So, dealing with the reality of loss and death is much more stressful in this type of relationship. Adding in the increased stress inherent to managing a disabling condition and handling the tribulations of adolescence, and you can well imagine how hard life has been for Danielle.

Danielle & Walker

When Walker died in August at age 12, Danielle was devastated. The family had been searching for a year for another dog so that when the time came they were prepared. That moment came in November when Danielle and Stephani went to a special school in New York to meet Rover, a dog the family purchased through the East Coast Assistance Dogs association.

Danielle wasn’t sure she was ready. The two-week boot camp Danielle went through with disabled war veterans and their service dogs was intense. One night, while working in the training room, Rover barked at Danielle. She was frustrated, he was frustrated, and the two were at a stalemate, her mother said. Danielle began to cry.

That’s when a veteran named Ace came into the room, Danielle said. She said he understood her frustration and was trying to talk to her when Rover swiftly got between them. The dog started to force Ace to back away from Danielle.

“Rover thought he had hurt me. He thought I was crying because of Ace,” she said recently, smiling at the memory.

That was the turning point for Danielle and Rover. Last week, the pair worked well together. They practiced commands, such as turning on and off lights, with some success. There are skills they still need to work on; and while she may not recall them, Danielle had similar frustrating moments with Walker.

At one point she told her parents that Walker made her life “horrible.” Last week, as she sat in the lobby of the Mystic Education Center’s pool with Rover sleeping at her feet, Walker’s ashes were kept lovingly in a platinum bone pendent hanging from a silver chain around her neck.

Danielle said there is a spiritual connection between the two dogs. Walker entered her life on April 13, 2001; Rover was born on April 13, 2007. “It is a sign,” she said, smiling as she massaged Rover’s soft nose that was resting on her legs.

I would tend to agree with Danielle.

Training your own Service Dog

I am just in love with the videos and work being done by the Vancouver Island Assistance Dogs, Nanaimo, British Columbia. They are a group of volunteers who are helping people on Vancouver Island to overcome or mitigate the difficulties of living with disabling conditions (no matter the degree of severity) by assisting them to train their own mobility assistance dog, hearing dog and/or other service dog at no cost to them. Besides doing in-home training for individuals in the Nanaimo area, they offer email, their great blog, and also video support for those in other regions.

The video below from Donna Hill details Training a One Way Alert to Service Dogs (Hearing and Medical Alert Dogs). It is simply fabulous. We don’t have hearing difficulties but can see how teaching this behavior could be a life-saving one. The way the task is broken down is excellent, and just wonderful for those folks who are training their own hearing dog. The video helps folks to train a service dog to alert you to sounds (hearing alerts) and do diabetic and other medical alerts.

Note the star (*) indicates when the clicker marks the behavior. Also, realize that barking is not a behavior that is desirable for an alert behavior for assistance dogs. In public is is disruptive and is only used for emergencies to call attention to a person that needs help. That is why a silent alert is much more effective.

Remember, the same process shown in the video can be used to train for:

  • Person calling your name
  • Wake up alarm
  • Fire alarm
  • Smoke Detector
  • Horn honking
  • Car or truck backing up
  • Low blood sugar levels (diabetic alert)

Learn more about hearing dogs here and our listing of general service dog resources here.

And, be sure to check out our Nationwide Assistance Dog Group & Training Listing here.

Just don’t buy this store owner’s side of the story

Amazing that the folks at the restaurant could not tell Golden Retriever Lanie was a guide dog and that her person was visually impaired. (Hate that an ad has to run first before the clip.)

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Learn more about why I am not buying this store owner’s tail.

Making Amends

On Monday I shared a story of a store owner that kicked out a family with a Service Dog, Golden Retriever Ellie. Well, Susan Ivancevich and Robert Bryant met yesterday at his store to make amends.

First I have the initial video with the man screaming to the family about getting out of his store. Then, you can see the second video showing the apology. You will notice towards the end of the clip how Ellie has just been lying down under the table and not budging during the entire interview. And, you know, of course, that there was much activity there given the crew shooting the film.

I hear that folks in the area have not taken to kindly to this store owner and that some boycotting had already taken place, so prompting his attempts to make amends.


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Puppy Girl Blythe

In December 2008 I posted about Blythe. She was being trained by my Golden pal Pat who is a charter member of the Valley of the Sun Volunteer Chapter of CCI. Pat has probably trained over 20 furkids at this point, which is pretty amazing.

I could not ever remember Pat training a little girl as it has always been boys that she has received these many years. I had always had male dogs and my sweet Darcy was our first female. But she was so spunky and filled with attitude, which I adored. And, she was known for loving her toys huge to thrash and then lie on in victory. So I asked her about that.

I thought I’d try a girl for a change. These last couple of guys have been handfuls! Loving handfuls mind you, but I thought a little mellow girl would be a nice change of pace. NOT! This one has spunk! And attitude, hence the blog. Blythe and I are new at blogging, but we will get the hang of it. I’m in New Mexico for a day or two, but when I return, I’ll send you some cute first day pictures. I had gotten all these girl toys … soft animals, even a cashmere camel. She went for the biggest ball in the house and drags around the biggest bone she can find. I love her already!

Well, I just got a post from Pat today, Blythe having left for service dog college, as they call it. She has a new pupper to raise . . . and it’s back to males. Here is Pioneer from his first day with Pat. I’m sure you’d agree that he is simply too precious for words.

Mitigating a World of Hurt: PSDs Stepping up to the Challenge

We have a new area at our foundation site, so that we can post personal concerns, pet peeves, and honestly, whatever tickles my fancy. It may involve dogs of any persuasion or it may not. The only determinant for inclusion is that the topic is IMPORTANT TO US.  Some of the latest topics have included:

The NEWEST topic is this:

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Here’s part of the lead in to the page:

The concept of the Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) has received an increased emphasis in the media, their status elevated due to the concerns regarding the huge numbers of war veterans suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well as Traumatic Brain Injury due to the use of the improvised explosive device (IED). Some estimates show greater than one third of vets returning home from war in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from PTSD, this article on declining morale of US troops in Afghanistan revealing the significant societal impact:

Think tank RAND report in 2008 had revealed 300,000 veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan had been diagnosed with severe depression or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It said more soldiers were going AWOL to find treatment from PTSD. RAND further reveals that rates of PTSD and traumatic brain injury among troops taking part in war on terror have been excessively high, with a third of returning troops reporting psychic problems and 18.5% of all returning service personnel battling either PTSD or depression. Marine suicides doubled between 2006 and 2007; army suicides are at highest rate since records were kept in 1980. There has been 80% increase in desertions since 2003. Over 150 GIs refused service while about 250 war resisters are taking refuge in Canada. 1700 strong GI resistance is gaining momentum. The veterans have signed up for anti-war Oath Keepers (an association of serving military officers, reserves, National Guard, veterans, fire fighters). Longer war drags on more resistance from within ranks. Hundreds of letters have been written to Obama by serving and retired servicemen, urging him to bring back US troops. Long absence from homes is escalating divorce rates. …

Mental state of those on duty on scattered posts is worst since they feel scared. Many suffer from mental disorders. Sleeplessness and bouts of anger are common. Many are found broken down and weeping since the faceless enemy frustrates them. Seeing their comrades blown up shatters them. They feel irritated that in their bid to help the population by giving them humanitarian assistance, they do not cooperate and often lie and tend to protect Taliban. Recent rules of engagement to minimize civilian casualties are seen as fighting with one arm tied behind backs. Most demoralizing thing is that soldiers are not getting killed in combat actions but by roadside bombs on routine journeys. In 2009, most casualties were from IEDs and still are. All combat missions are accepted with a heavy heart. There is no sense of pride or accomplishment in them. None want to die or get crippled. All they desire is complete their tenure and return home safely in one piece.

Here is so much more . . . .

US Airways … having fun teaching assistance dogs

These Golden Retrievers and Labs have already been trained to work with their disabled partners by trainers at St. Francis Service Dogs Foundation. Here, they are learning the ropes of flying, with wonderful US Airways employees learning how to help them, as volunteers. I can tell they are really enjoying this work. My favorite part was watching the critical *back” command, which is perfect for those skinny plane aisles.

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A Golden opportunity to help Jack live, love

Caylie, a Golden Retriever service dog trained to help the disabled, is 5-year-old Jack Swiger’s new best friend. Lisa and Eliot Swiger adopted him as a brain-injured infant after a baby sitter caused Shaken Baby Syndrome. That is truly an incredibly noble act, as these children suffer irreversible and quite significant symptomatology throughout their lives.

Caylie, who has been trained by paws 4 people, a charity that uses prison inmates to help train assistance dogs for the disabled, will soon be moving into the Swigers’ home.

Early this year, the family traveled to a federal prison camp near Morganton, W. Va., where inmates work with paws 4 people to help train service dogs. They’d come to find a dog for Jack. But the strain of traveling made it a bad day. The seizures kept coming, more than two dozen. But the family had come too far not to go through with the process.

The folks from paws 4 people said they needed to see one of the dogs take a special liking to Jack – a “bump,” they called it. That way they’d know there’d be a natural bond to build on. The dogs were friendly, but none showed any special interest in Jack. Then Caylie stopped by.

Before she left, Jack froze. Another seizure. “She seemed very sensitive to it,” Eliot recalled. “She just sat there and waited for him. When he came back, she put her head in his lap.” A definite bump, the trainers said.

Caylie’s been visiting the Swigers off-and-on for months now. She’ll move in permanently within weeks, joining the family’s other two dogs, Maggie, a Corgi-Sheltie mix, and Moe, a golden retriever-lab mix.

Jack and Caylie are bonding nicely, everyone agrees. Summoned to come sit by Jack, Caylie trotted over, sat down facing him and placed a protective paw on the boy’s foot. I’m here, she seemed to be saying. “Awww…” Lisa said.

Loving Goldens & Arizona Navel Oranges!

pat-bear-graduation-web2.jpgI’ve often posted about my special Golden puppy raiser pal, Pat Lawson. I hope it does not embarrass her too much. She is one amazing lady, that’s for sure.

Pat is a Golden lover after my own heart. She has raised over 20 puppies for various service dog organizations. Pat is shown here with her second CCI puppy “Bear” who graduated as a Skilled Companion in August of 2005.

Pat, currently Public Relations & Golf Tournament Director, is a charter member of the Valley of the Sun Volunteer Chapter of Canine Companions for Independence, named CCI’s Southwest Region volunteer of the year for 2005.

It seems like my special puppy raising pal, Pat Lawson, has a mini-grove of organically grown navel oranges that are sweet as sugar. The oranges are growing at the base of the San Tan mountains, in soil that promotes incredible sweetness.

In the last 3 years I have probably bought close to 100 boxes of organic oranges from my Golden pal, Pat. And, it is a painful type of purchase because most of the oranges are juiced and then placed in freezer bags to be thawed throughout the entire year. But, what can I do? Gary and I are addicted to these things.

I now make the most glorious orange juice, keeping 100% of the pulp with it, as we love to drink chunky orange juice lol. Alfie loves them as well, and the fact that they are totally organic is just the icing on the cake.

Pat just emailed me this morning with this great announcement:

Hi Everyone. It’s finally TIME TO GET YOUR ORANGE ON! The oranges in our San Tan Grove in Arizona are ready and waiting to come to you. We have a new name and an updated website to make ordering easier for you: arizonanaveloranges.com . The oranges are a bit larger than last year, and already as sweet as they usually are in January. We’ve added a smaller size box if you want to share with your friends without breaking the bank. Thanks for your support . . . and enjoy the best tasting oranges on the planet!

Here is Golden Tavi, who Pat raised some time ago. He was so used to Pat’s oranges that when he was bought a “store” orange he only took a few bites before leaving it sitting on the ground. Pat says that wherever he ends up, she will have to keep him supplied with his favorite food of all time, San Tan Sweet Oranges.

Check out Tavi below demolishing one of Mom’s oranges.

Don’t delay, get on over to arizonanaveloranges.com TODAY!

No Way to Treat a Veteran & his Golden Service Dog – Updated

Luis Montalvan, left, a disabled veteran, and his service dog, Golden Retriever Tuesday, met Sen. Al Franken by chance at an inaugural ball in Washington. The former Army captain was wounded in Iraq.

I’ve posted about Al Franken here, here ,here, & here and continue to be so impressed by what he is trying to do in truly making a difference for his constituents. He is a dog lover, of course, as one would expect him to be. A Labrador Retriever guy, in fact. I love that his initial legislation was inspired by a Golden Retriever named Tuesday, and involves the utilization of service dogs in helping to ease the physical and emotional pain of our returning war veterans.

On Nov 16th the good senator penned a commentary about this, A small way to give back to veterans who gave so much“.

One reason I ran for the Senate was to do right by our veterans, and my first piece of legislation was designed to address this epidemic of mental health issues, if in just a small way. I presented a Senate bill, signed into law last month, that creates a public/private partnership to share the cost of providing approximately 200 highly trained service dogs to veterans who have been wounded physically and mentally. The VA will study the benefits to these vets.

My strong belief is that these veterans will require less medication, reduced human care and fewer hospitalizations, and will become more productive citizens. To me, it’s enough that the dogs simply make these vets feel better. But I hope that the study will demonstrate a strong return on investment and that before long we will see an expansion of this program. …

I think of those veterans who survived battle only to struggle with wounds of war, both physical and mental. Many of them gave up two lives too. But we can do more than remember. We can act, and make a difference.

I am sure that Al is quite upset about this suit and how tough life really is for many of our disabled. This is not a new concern. Many people who have service dogs need to worry about their safety, as well as that of their service animal, as there is sometimes no way to escape the ignorance from what we refer to as human beings.

Amazingly, I can barely see a mention of this in the news, but was impressed by this Nov 24th article by Kevin Diaz in the Minneapolis, MN Star Tribune.

A disabled veteran who inspired Sen. Al Franken’s first legislative victory — a service dog program for disabled veterans — is suing McDonald’s for $10 million after allegedly being harassed, beaten, and told that he couldn’t take his service dog inside a fast food restaurant in New York City.

Luis Carlos Montalvan, a former Army captain who was wounded in Iraq, said he was confronted by restaurant workers on two separate visits, and beaten with garbage can lids on a third when he returned with a camera in hand.

Franken, in an e-mail message to Montalvan last week, called it an “awful, bizarre story.” …

Repaying sacrifice
Montalvan, 36, of Brooklyn, filed suit Oct. 28, a week after Congress approved Franken’s provision establishing a pilot program to pair 200 wounded veterans with service dogs from nonprofit agencies. In championing the legislation, Franken cited Montalvan and his service dog, Tuesday, whom he had met in a chance encounter at a presidential inaugural ball in Washington.

Franken said Friday that the incident underscores the problems of returning veterans. “Captain Montalvan made great sacrifices fighting for our country in Iraq,” Franken said. “I’m not entirely familiar with the facts of this case, but what I do know underscores both the need to help our returning veterans and to raise awareness and increase access for service dogs.”

Montalvan served two tours of duty in Iraq, suffering wounds in a knife and hand grenade attack that left him with spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Tuesday, his service dog, is a golden retriever who helps him with balance, mobility and emotional support.

I read that a group of veterans are planning to protest outside the restaurant today on Montalvan’s behalf. As soon as I learn something, I will provide an update here.

NOV 25 UPDATE: Click here to see the video of Luis, Tuesday and some supporters demonstrating at the respective McDonalds.

Here are two fabulous video clips detailing Captain Montalvan’s and Golden Tuesday’s wonderful working union.

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A small way to give back to veterans who gave so much

Meet Golden Boston … Retired Guide Dog to Therapy Dog

Bob Armstrong brings his old Golden Retriever Boston (his wife Debee’s retired Guide Dog) to the Kaiser Permanente hospital in Santa Clara, CA. Debee has a new Golden Guide Dog, but happily trains her Goldens so that when she needs to retire them from the work-intensive job as a Guide Dog, they can be transitioned into being just a loving member of the family as well as doing therapy dog visitation work.

Learn more about Boston’s Guide Dog days here.

Remembering a Gentle Man with a Golden Heart

Ed Eames and his wife, Toni, with Golden guide dogs, Latrell & Keebler

Sadly, the Assistance Dog Movement has lost one of our greatest champions. IAADP’s President, Co-founder, Ed Eames, Ph.D. passed away on October 25, 2009. It is hard to believe that it has been seven years since meeting Ed and his lovely wife, Toni. Although Toni has been blind since birth, Ed lost his sight at age 42. He very much relied on Toni’s skills and access, and along with her deep love for him, this allowed him to flourish in his second, non-sighted life.

An adjunct professor at CA State University-Fresno, Ed spent his career teaching and doing anthropology research at NY’s Baruch College and previously at Temple University. His doctorate was earned at Cornell University with his research based in India.

Ed obtained his initial guide dog from the Seeing Eye and met Toni in 1985 while writing his first book about the assistance dog field, A Guide to Guide Dog Schools. She joined him as wife and co-author of that project. Their second book, Partners in Independence: A Success Story of Dogs and the Disabled, was drawn from their award-winning column of the same name, published for ten years in Dog World Magazine.

Ed is the kind of person who has exemplified the adage, When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.And, it was Ed’s enormous heart and sweet manner and concern for others that endeared him to so many. It was simply impossible to resist this man’s charms once you met him. He just had that kind of effect on folks . . . . and dogs as well.

Ed was a true Golden Retriever lover and one knew that any Golden in the Eames household was one lucky dog. We all know how special our first entry into the Golden world can be, and Ed’s relationship with Kirby, his first Golden Retriever guide dog, was quite unique. Here is Dr. Eames with his Kirby, a Golden who amazingly went on to earn an AKC Companion Dog Excellent title.

However, Kirby’s claim to fame occurred when bone cancer necessitated the amputation of his left front leg, yet did not keep him from continuing his guide dog work. The telling of this courageous story, Kirby, My Miracle Worker, earned Ed a Maxwell award from the Dog Writers Association of America.

Go to my site to learn more about Ed’s story.

Service dog reject Ricochet becomes surfer dude

Golden Retriever Richochet and Patrick Ivison. AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

You can learn more about Richochet in our previous blogging and at our foundation’s site on Golden Surf Dogs.

Golden Ricki

Richochet’s story made it bigtime, the Associated Press doing a fabulous article and video. And, she has been an incredible fundraiser, donations in for almost $9000.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ricochet is a service dog dropout. It’s not that she wasn’t dog enough. To the contrary, there was way too much dog in her.

Her undoing? Chasing birds. But she’s found redemption in the ocean, surfing to raise money for a quadriplegic teen.

Ricochet, a 19-month-old golden retriever, lives with Judy Fridono in Escondido, about 25 miles north of San Diego. The two set out to raise $7,000 to help Patrick Ivison, a 15-year-old who was just a year old when he was run over by a car.

They exceeded that goal when Ricochet competed in the inaugural Surf City Surf Dog Contest in Huntington Beach, bringing her summer fundraising total to more than $8,200, Fridono said. The playful surfer dog came in second in the large dog finals Sunday, even with a special bootie she wore after tearing a paw pad while racing around the beach a few days before the contest.

Ricochet plans to continue hanging 20 and raising money to help with Ivison’s physical therapy. Insurance pays for one hour of therapy every week, but the San Diego high school sophomore needs six.

Dog and dog owner hope to eventually help someone else after Ivison.

Ricochet had nearly nine months of service dog training behind her when her bird problem developed at the beach one day. Fridono was brokenhearted.

“I didn’t want her to just become a pet dog,” she said. “So rather than focus on what she couldn’t do, we focused on what she could do. And that was surfing.”

Ricochet had worked with a boogie board in the puppy pool during service dog training and developed remarkable balance. So she was spayed and Rip Curl Ricki — her surfer girl nickname — was born. She entered her first surfing contest in June, then Fridono set up “Surfin’ for Paws-abilities,” the fundraising drive.

Ivison had been surfing adaptively for about seven years, so it seemed natural that they would meet and team up. He said he couldn’t ride the adaptive surfboard, which is built for two people, without Ricochet.

“She acts as that second person. She knows how to balance, too. She leans back and turns the board and it’s pretty cool to watch.”

Meet Abigail, the Dog Teacher

As Dean Koontz says, “Bonnie Bergin is legendary for her groundbreaking work with dogs.” President of the Assistance Dog Institute, Dr. Bergin originated the service dog concept and movement, and she has been training dogs to assist people with disabilities for more than thirty years. She knows that dogs have an almost limitless capacity to learn.

In the book, Teach Your Dog to Read, Dr. Bergin provides concrete advice on achieving the seemingly impossible: teaching ordinary dogs how to recognize and respond to written commands. With more than fifty instructional photographs, Teach Your Dog to Read is an amazing tool for making your dog smarter and enhancing your capacity to communicate with each other.

Dogs, she writes, decode visual messages, “reading” the symbols of body language and hand signals; they can similarly, therefore, decode the symbols of typed words and stick figures. Her simple method relies on homemade flash cards, delectable treats, and markers (e.g., a clicker) as well positive reinforcement. This is not a book of “stupid dog tricks”; it is a serious training manual easily accessible to the layperson wishing to enhance communication with a dog or to use a dog in therapeutic situations or in school or library “Reading to Dog” programs.

The principal question the book raises—why is it necessary for dogs to read?—is addressed by Bergin’s emphasis on special assistance dogs who need to read signs for the visually impaired and others who rely on a dog’s help in everyday life. As for those who aren’t disabled, Bergen explains that the skills involved can keep the dog away from your turkey dinner and off your favorite chair, while helping owners form an intense emotional bond with their dogs.

Here is a sweet retriever-mix named Abigail who demonstrates nicely how beneficial this reading behavior can be.

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Check out Golden Richochet! – Updated

UPDATE: Brand new videos with Richochet and Patrick!

Golden Ricki

We’ve been following Golden Retriever Richochet ‘Rip Curl Ricki’ and Patrick for a few months now. Today she did a demonstration at the Surf City Surf Dog event in Huntington Beach, surfing tandem with Patrick Ivison, who suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of an accident when he was only 14 months old. Patrick was diagnosed quadriplegic, but he is able to surf using an adaptive surfboard.

Although Patrick has excelled through the years in both school and adaptive sports (adaptive surfing is his specialty), he recently decided that having a service dog would help him achieve greater independence as he approaches his college years. Paws’itive Teams, a local non-profit organization that places service dogs with persons with disabilities, caught wind of Patrick’s story and matched him with a Golden Retriever named Kona.

Patrick also participates in an intense physical therapy program funded through Help Patrick Walk, which helps him build strength by exercising parts of his body he can’t move or control on his own. Since starting his therapy, Patrick has been able to do things he never thought he could.

The costs of training a service dog, and specialized physical therapy are steep, however – that’s where Ricochet’s knack for surfing and fundraising comes in. Hopefully, she was able to raise lots for her pal Patrick today.

I hope Ricki also did well in the competition. Stay tuned as I have yet to hear from her mom, Judy.  Here is footage taken from the event today.

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Come learn more about Golden Surfing Dogs & see more fun surfing videos here.