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.

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.

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!

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.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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

Golden Retriever Ricochet Surfin for Paws-abilities

Golden Ricki

We’ve been following Golden Retriever Richochet ‘Rip Curl Ricki’ and Patrick for a few months now,

This newest project for Ricochet is to surf 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. Ricochet will be carving waves at the Surf City Surf Dog event in Huntington Beach on October 11, where she hopes to share a wave with Patrick.

Here is a new video report on this unique pair:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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

Meet Judy Fridono, Golden Lover & Trainer Extraordinaire

Judy Fridono

Judy Fridono

Judy Fridono, who I’ve featured at my Agricultural Golden Retriever Scent Detection Dog page and on a post with the adorable Halloween costumed Golden Rina, wanted me to publicize a fundraiser in which her Golden would be riding the waves tandem with Patrick Ivison, a 15-year-old spinal cord injured adaptive surfer.

Well, that would be a cinch to merely reproduce Judy’s press release (check it out below). But, the work that she is doing is too fascinating to leave it at that. And, like myself (I have a mixed connective tissue disorder), her charitable endeavors began as a way to make a difference despite adversity.

Due to the pain and degenerative nature of  a juvenile rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis in late childhood, Judy was limited in her physical activities. Instead, she channeled her energy into charitable causes. She puppy raised for Canine Companions for Independence and completed (Bergin University’s) Assistance Dog Institute’s A.S. degree program, working with Dr. Bonnie Bergin, the incredible woman who initially originated the concept of the service dog.  Judy, who has trained dogs at several service dog organizations, is currently a service dog trainer for Paws’itive Teams, also active with her own service dog through their goal directed therapy program working with children.

Judy, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT), is also the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Puppy Prodigies, a Neo-natal and Early Learning Program. Their objective is to provide their “prepped” puppies to owner-trainers, assistance dog, and other canine training organizations with the goal of decreasing the number of dogs that are released from programs due to temperament or behavior issues. As the wait for a service dog can be several years & the cost for training quite high ($25,000 per dog), it is shocking to realize that a fair percentage of dogs in training programs do not graduate. That is why Puppy Prodigies is such an important organization.

  • Puppy Prodigies focuses on critical stages of development starting at birth by providing the puppy with structured exercises and experiences such as early stimulation, conditioning, imprinting, habituation, socialization, environment enrichment, and training.  The purpose is to condition the puppies so they learn to learn!  Learn more Here: Early Learning Focus and Early Learning Program Highlights.
  • Puppy Prodigies provides these early trained puppies to organizations and others who need them, which includes but is not limited to assistance dog programs for their puppy raising/training initiatives, medical alert programs, seizure alert/response programs, social therapy programs, scent detection programs, and other career dog programs and individuals who are “owner training” their personal dog for assistance work.
  • Puppy Prodigies has a breeder collaboration program in which they work closely with breeders in a effort to produce exceptional puppies who are destined for a future in assistance work.
  • Puppy Prodigies whelps litters for other assistance dog programs, as well as breeders who are interested in our early learning program for their entire litter.
  • Puppy Prodigies provides continued support once the puppy is placed so that the early learning that was fostered is built upon throughout the puppy’s training journey.
  • Puppy Prodigies provides education and training opportunities to breeders, other assistance dog programs, trainers, etc, so they can provide their Neo-natal & Early Learning Program to their litters of puppies.
  • Puppy Prodigies charts the success of their efforts since the ultimate goal is to decrease the number of dogs who are released from programs due to temperament or behavior issues. This data also serves as a source of early canine behavior research for their work with other dog behavior professionals.

Judy, like many other Golden owners, has a website for her girl, “Rip Curl Ricki“. Born on January 25, 2008, the 9th puppy in a litter of 10, Ricki was raised as part of Puppy Prodigies with hopes of becoming a service dog. A little too interested in chasing birds and other small animals, her career path changed, and she became a SURFice dog! At 8 weeks of age, in addition to her service dog skills training, Ricki began surf dog training on a boogie board in a kiddie pool. Here is this sweet puppy girl learning how to surf  in a kiddie pool at the tender age of 11 to 13 weeks.

Given Judy’s physical limitations, Team Ricki was created to help with taking Ricki in the water to surf, attend practices, accompany her to contests, give surfing advice, help with fundraising, take pictures/video at events, and more. If you would like to get involved, unleash the fun, and be part of Team Ricki, please send an email to pawinspired@aol.com or call (707) 228-0679. Judy is really in need of a strong guy in the San Diego area who can take Ricki out in the water to practice and for competitions.

Ricki is the youngest surFUR on the San Diego Dog Surfing Association Team, and is also a member of the Golden SurFURS team, which is composed of all Golden Retrievers! Check out the Golden SurFURS below.

Although still a novice, now each time Ricki surfs in competitions, she has a personal mission called “Surfin’ for Paws-abilities” which raises money for charitable causes. I do hope you visit her site and check out this mission so that you can donate.

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Surf Dog Contest Winner Carves New Waves as She Tandem Surfs with 15-year-old Spinal Cord Injured Adaptive Surfer

Golden Retriever Ricki

Golden Retriever Ricki

SAN DIEGO, CA, August 14, 2009…”Rip Curl Ricki,” a local golden retriever surf contest winner, will be taking to the waves next Thursday, August 20, to learn a new skill: surfing tandem with Patrick Ivison, a 15-year-old spinal cord injured adaptive surfer. “Ricochet” (as she is known on land) has been surfing since she was a puppy, and has always been part of surfing fundraising efforts for great causes. The newest project for Ricochet, however, presents a unique and exciting challenge: training to surf 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.

In addition to accomplishing a tandem surf ride with a person with limited physical abilities (rarely, if ever done), Ricochet will use her surf training next week to prepare for upcoming surf competitions/fundraisers for Patrick.

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.

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.

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. Ricochet will be carving waves in San Diego for the next several weeks to prepare for the Helen Woodward Surf Dog Surf-a-thon in Del Mar on September 13, 2009 as well as the Surf City Surf Dog event in Huntington Beach on October 11, where she hopes to share a wave with Patrick.

A surfin' Patrick

A surfin' Patrick

Patrick is an official beneficiary for the Surf City Surf Dog contest, and the proceeds donated to Ricochet through her fundraising efforts will go directly to Paws’itive Teams, and Help Patrick Walk, for the sole purpose of easing the financial burden on Patrick and his family.

Note: If you’d like to volunteer, get involved, make a donation, or become a sponsor, send an email to pawinspired@aol.com, or call Judy Fridono at (707) 228-0679.

If you are lucky enough to be a Californian, do be sure to go out to see these fun competitions. It’s always fun for the surfers to hear their names chanted while they are carving out some waves (pom-poms optional!)

Sept 13, 2009 to benefit Patrick’s intense PT at Project walk
Ricki will be surfing in the large dog category of Del Mar’s Helen Woodward Surf Dog Surf-a-thon, surfing as many waves as she can catch in a 20 minute time-frame. She hopes to catch about 6-7 waves. The contest is judged/scored on the length of ride, and how many waves are caught.

Oct 11, 2009 to benefit Patrick’s Golden service dog Kona
Ricki will be surfing in the large dog category in Huntington Beach’s Surf City Surf Dog competition, surfing as many waves as she can catch in a 15 minute time-frame. She hopes to catch 5-6 waves. the contest is judged/scored on the length of ride.

Remember, you can donate for Patrick’s continuing physical therapy through the “Help Patrick Walk” fund which supports his ongoing treatment at Project Walk, and/or for his service dog Kona from Pawsitive Teams.

Just go to  “Surfin’ for Paws-abilities” or click on the Donate Now button.

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Come meet lots of Golden surfing dogs and learn more about this new fun sport that is taking root all over the nation.  Just click here.

SURF DOG CONTEST WINNER CARVES NEW WAVES AS SHE TANDEM SURFS WITH
15-YEAR-OLD SPINAL CORD INJURED ADAPTIVE SURFERSAN DIEGO, CA, August 14, 2009…”Rip Curl Ricki,” a local golden retriever surf contest winner, will be taking to the waves next Thursday, August 20, to learn a new skill: surfing tandem with Patrick Ivison, a 15-year-old spinal cord injured adaptive surfer.  “Ricochet” (as she is known on land) has been surfing since she was a puppy, and has always been part of surfing fundraising efforts for great causes.  The newest project for Ricochet, however, presents a unique and exciting challenge: training to surf 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.In addition to accomplishing a tandem surf ride with a person with limited physical abilities (rarely, if ever done), Ricochet will use her surf training next week to prepare for upcoming surf competitions/fundraisers for Patrick.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.
Ricochet will be carving waves in San Diego for the next several weeks to prepare for the Helen Woodward Surf Dog Surf-a-thon in Del Mar on September 13, 2009 as well as the Surf City Surf Dog event in Huntington Beach on October 11, where she hopes to share a wave with Patrick.

Patrick is an official beneficiary for the Surf City Surf Dog contest, and the proceeds donated to Ricochet through her fundraising efforts will go directly to Paws’itive Teams, and Help Patrick Walk, for the sole purpose of easing the financial burden on Patrick and his family.

Sit! Stay! Snuggle!: An Iraq Vet & his Service Golden Retriever Tuesday

Luis Carlos Montalvan at a New York bookstore with Golden Retriever Tuesday, who goes with him everywhere and is trained to respond to signs of anxiety. Photo by Leslie Granda-Hill

I loved discovering Tuesday this Saturday morning. It will surely brighten your day as well.

Like any other golden retriever seeking a treat, Tuesday nudged his owner’s hand with his snout one recent morning and waited expectantly. Luis Carlos Montalvan got up from a chair in his small Brooklyn apartment and walked to the kitchen. Tuesday followed close behind, eyes fixed on a white cabinet. The retriever sat alertly as Mr. Montalvan, an Iraq war veteran with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, reached for a vial of pills, lined a half-dozen on the table and took them one by one.

The dog had gotten what he wanted: When the last pill was swallowed, he got up and followed his master out of the kitchen, tail wagging.

Tuesday is a so-called psychiatric-service dog, a new generation of animals trained to help people whose suffering is not physical, but emotional. They are, effectively, Seeing Eye dogs for the mind.

Tuesday is with Mr. Montalvan at all hours. Taught to recognize changes in a person’s breathing, perspiration or scent that can indicate an imminent panic attack, Tuesday can keep Mr. Montalvan buffered from crowds or deliver a calming nuzzle. Other dogs, typically golden retrievers, Labradors or Labrador retriever blends, are trained to wake masters from debilitating nightmares and to help patients differentiate between hallucinations and reality by barking if a real person is nearby.

“Tuesday is just extraordinarily empathetic,” said Mr. Montalvan, 36 years old, a retired Army captain who received a Purple Heart for wounds he suffered in Iraq. “In bad moments, he’ll lay his head on my leg, and it’ll be like he’s saying, ‘You’re OK. You’re not alone.'”

Seeing Eye dogs were first systematically trained in Germany during World War I to aid blinded veterans. Today, psychiatric-service dogs are being trained to help veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan battles. The federal government has given the dogs the same legal protections as other service animals, so Tuesday can ride the subway with Mr. Montalvan and accompany him to restaurants and theaters. But few of the dogs are available to former troops like Mr. Montalvan, one of the estimated 300,000 veterans of the two wars who will ultimately develop PTSD.

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Previously, I have posted articles about Puppies Behind Bars (Iraq Vet Gets Dog, New Chance at Life and Golden Retriever ‘Puppies Behind Bars’). I am just in love with this N.Y.-based non-profit organization. They have provided service dogs to individuals with disabilities since 1997, recently having expanded their program to include war veterans. To date, they have placed psychiatric-service dogs with 11 veterans and hope to provide 14 more this year. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult, especially in these economic times, to raise the $26,000 needed to train each dog.

The group coordinates with Project Heal, from East Coast Assistance Dogs (ECAD). This program honors and empowers Wounded Warriors by providing specially trained Service Dogs to increase independence and make a difference in their lives.

I am just in love with the N.Y.-based non-profit organization Puppies Behind Bars, an organization that has provided service dogs to individuals with disabilities since 1997, recently having expanded their program to include war veterans. It is coordinated with Project Heal, from East Coast Assistance Dogs (ECAD). The program honors and empowers Wounded Warriors by providing specially trained Service Dogs to increase independence and make a difference in their lives.

Project HEAL® Service Dogs are specially trained dogs who pick up dropped objects, open and close doors, open refrigerators, pull wheelchairs, prevent overcrowding in public, interrupt nightmares and flashbacks, remind to take meds, warn of approaching strangers and reduce anxiety and stress, all the while providing unconditional love and comfort. ECAD does not charge our Wounded Warriors for these very special Service Dogs. Each veteran is provided with 13 days of Team Training instruction either in their New York or Florida facility at a cost of $500. Housing is provided at no cost.

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Embarrassed to admit this but . . .

In the last 2 months, I have bought at least 20 boxes of 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. I cannot remember how many bags I made from last year but they were so welcome and enjoyed, that’s for sure. I love that they are organic and pure goodness. There are not that many safe and good foods left, and oranges like these just cannot be beat.

Right now I have 5 boxes sitting in the hallway waiting to be juiced. Gary tried one yesterday and said it was the sweetest yet, just like sugar. It was what I call a ‘baby’ orange as it was really small. The sizes are always mixed that I get from Pat but the taste never varies. They are just incredibly delicious. Pat just emailed me this morning about the season now coming to an end due to warmer weather making it necessary to get the oranges off of the trees a bit earlier than usual. So I went and ordered another 5 boxes. That means I have to now go and spend many, many hours juicing, which is very hard on my hands due to carpal tunnel syndrome and my connective tissue disease. But, as they say, no pain, no gain.

So, do get over to Life Barks to place your order. I make nothing on this deal folks. I simply want to pass on a truly Golden find. And, check out Pat’s other goodies that she is selling to help support her wonderful service dog work.

Pat just took on a new Golden girl to train for CCI service dog work. And, she has set up a blog at Life Barks to let folks share in the process. Here is a fun entry from the blog today.

Dear President Obama,
Since you seem to be really good at researching other President’s great lines, (by the way, loved your speech), How about this one: 

Golden Service Pup-in-Training Blythe

Walk Softly And Carry a Big Stick! I’m thinking that in the not too distant future you’re gonna need that stick!  Anyway, I wanted to comment about your dilemma about which puppy to get for your girls.  LABRADOODLE?  PORTUGUESE WATER DOG?

First off… what exactly is a “Doodle”?  I get the Labr apart, and even then, my short haired counter part wouldn’t be a good choice because they are far too “busy” for a place as elegant as the White House.  (you did see Marley and Me right?)

Secondly, I’m a big fan of good old American Named Dogs… there is something so wrong about anything that begins with Portuguese.  I mean what’s next, Yorkshire Terrier, German Shepherd, Afghan Hound, Australian Shepherd, French Bulldog…you get the idea.

Clearly the best choice for your family is the elegant, faithful, beautiful, loyal, trustworthy, (did I  say beautiful already?), Golden Retriever.  There is no other choice that comes close really.  Even our name suggests elegance.  As for people with allergies, I’m pretty certain that there would be a lot of bathing going on in the White House to get rid of most of the dander that builds up.  A girl’s gotta stay clean.  Think about future family photos… Now picture that funny looking water dog or the odd doodle dog.  Now picture your beautiful family and a Golden with long flowing gorgeous hair.  No contest really.  And cute growing up?  Nothing cuter than a Golden Puppy, if I do say so myself.

Here is a picture of me and my big brother Teddy:

We would be happy to come to the White House so you can see first hand how one of our kind would fit in.  Just send info on when Air Force 1 is available to pick us up.  We will be waiting….

Golden Retriever Paws for Purple Hearts – Video Update

paws.jpg

We originally brought you this story in October 2007. Pictured above is Golden Gabe with his latest idea of how to help our veterans. Here at age 12, he was still making such an incredible contribution. Learn more about Paws for Purple Hearts by checking out the wonderful Fall 2007 newsletter from Dr. Bonnie Bergin’s esteemed Assistance Dog Institute.

under.jpgBergin University’s Paws for Purple Hearts (PPH) program is the only one of it kind in the world. Building on the time-honored tradition of veterans helping veterans, Paws for Purple Hearts engages servicemen diagnosed with PTSD in a mission to train service dogs as part of their rehabilitative therapy. Training service dogs provides a way for veterans with PTSD to practice emotional regulation and give their days focus and purpose. The dogs help to facilitate social relationships with members of the community since a critical element of training is properly socializing the puppies and practicing their training skills in public.

Paws for Purple Hearts replaces the brotherhood of the military unit in the field with the brotherhood of shared purpose and caring for their fellow injured soldiers.

The service dogs are trained to assist in activities of daily living by opening doors, retrieving dropped items and pulling wheelchairs. These are just a few of the many benefits that a service dog provides. Plus the dog also offers unconditional love and acceptance. The service dog accompanies their partner everywhere – home, work, anywhere their lives take them. In many cases, service dogs perform tasks that were previously performed by an attendant or family member; thus reducing the veteran’s dependence on other people.

Dr. Bonita Bergin invented the concept of the Service Dog to assist people with mobility impairments in 1975. At that time she founded Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), the first nonprofit to train and place Service Dogs. After leaving CCI In 1991, Dr. Bergin founded the Assistance Dog Institute.

Under Dr. Bergin’s leadership, ADI continues to break new ground in “Helping Dogs Help People” – founding the only college offering Master of Science and Associate of Science degrees in dog studies, creating the High School Assistance Dog program for at-risk teens, and researching how to teach dogs to read and how to train pups as young as three weeks.

The Assistance Dog Institute is doing such pivotal research work in the training of assistance dogs. I believe the future of this critical field lies in the new information that is being gleaned through the Institute.

Tonight Brian Williams did a MSNBC TV report on Paws for Purple Hearts.  Just click on the image below to see this wonderful program in action.

Meet Helping Paws of Minnesota

Helping Paws Of Minnesota, one of the many groups referenced at our foundation website, is a non-profit agency that breeds, trains and donates service dogs to people living with disabilities. This wonderful video describes their work and how important it is to those who volunteer, donate and receive these amazingly talented companion animals.

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Golden Service Dog-in-Training Tavi leaving for CCI College

Golden Retriever Service Dog-in-Training Tavi

Six months ago I posted about Golden Retriever Tavi, a CCI Service Dog-in-Training being raised by Pat Lawson (she’s trained nearly 20!). Pat is a charter member of the Valley of the Sun Volunteer Chapter of CCI. She is always fundraising for CCI and putting on golf tournaments is her specialty. Tavi is shown above at a golf tournament he helped Pat run for CCI. Such a silly boy, fooling around at a tee box marker!

At winter time, all the Goldens at Pat’s enjoy these wonderful organic navel oranges. She has a mini grove in Arizona where the oranges are growing at the base of the San Tan mountains, in soil that promotes incredible sweetness. We love ’em and believe that organics are great for every 2-legged & 4-legged family member.

Well, it’s that time for Tavi to leave for CCI College. This is the funny post that Pat just wrote about our orange-loving pup.

Sadly, Tavi the orange lover will be going off to CCI College before they are ready. We bought him a “store” orange… And he took a few bites and left it sitting on the ground. Seems he is an “orange snob”! :0) He has been lurking around the trees, even sampling a green orange or two that has fallen. Poor guy. Where ever he ends up, I’ll have to keep him supplied with his favorite food of all time, San Tan Sweet Oranges.

Golden Retriever Service Dog Midas saves his human’s life!

Service Golden Retriever Midas and Mom,

Service Golden Retriever Midas and Mom, Myrna

For years I have collected tales of Golden heroes, currently with almost 90 in my incredible collection. I never tire of learning about a new story that underlies my convictions about the intimate bond that only a dog can have with his or her beloved person.

This story of Service Golden Retriever Midas is an especially wonderful one. Midas was pretty heroic, almost from day one, when he was paired in 2001 with his human companion, Myrna. But, now almost 7 years later, he has proven just how crucial he is.

Myrna has Muscular Dystrophy and only has movement in her wrist and toes. She cannot lift her arm to scratch her face. She cannot pick up her arm if it falls off her armrest.

Here is a video news report from WPBF’s Cathleen O’Toole who details how Midas helped his human companion keep breathing.

And, here is Myrna’s story about getting this special boy.

Greetings. My name is Myrna and my companion’s name is My Midas. He became my hero just about a month after we became partners after team training at New Horizons Service Dogs.

It was early in the morning, about 5 a.m. After getting ready to start our daily routine and go to work, Midas and I said good-bye to my husband and son. We went out the door of our apartment, to the hallway, then to the sidewalk that takes us to the parking lot, where we wait for the special transportation to pick us up and take us to my place of employment. Since this is something that we have been doing for a month, I hold the leash in my hand while we are outside. I was not aware that during the night the maintenance people had dug up part of the sidewalk leaving it uneven.

Suddenly I felt the front tire of my wheelchair sink, and because of the limited mobility in my hands I was not able to prevent what came next. The front of the wheelchair sank in the hole, and it tilted forward. I ended up in the grass face down with a 300-pound power wheelchair on top of my back. For a moment I felt that my world was about to come to an end. I could not distinguish from the darkness of the morning or from the accident. I tried to call for help, but my voice was not loud enough for anyone to hear me.

At that moment Midas somehow got the leash out of my hand, and came to me and licked me in my face, sort of making sure that I was alive. I was able to tell him, “Midas, we are in trouble. Get help.”

I had no idea if he knew what I was talking about. I was just sort of talking to myself, trying to think how I got to the ground. Midas licked me one more time and left. He went back to my apartment door, got up on his back legs and started making growling noises and scratching the door. My husband was getting our son ready for school when he heard the noise. He was curious about the reason Midas was back at the door when he knew we should be out front waiting for our van pick up. He opened the door and saw Midas growling and running back and forth, sort of telling him to follow.

My husband ran outside and found me on the ground. Midas came to where I was and sat near me until my husband was able to unbuckle the seat belt and get the wheelchair off my back and then pick me up from the ground. I had bruised ribs and a bump on my forehead, but if Midas had not been there, it could have been hours before anyone noticed that I was injured. Because of his actions my injuries were less than they would have been. He kissed me twice to make sure that I stayed alert. He really might have saved my life that day.

Midas received an honorary Heroic Certificate for his bravery and for finding help for me from the Red Cross. New Horizons Service Dogs not only provided me with a lifetime partner to help me with my daily needs, but also they have given me the opportunity to expand my horizons and become active and productive member of our community again. Since I received Midas, my life has changed drastically. I have gone from being homebound and very dependent on physical assistance, with frequent panic attacks to a very independent, outgoing and active member of our community. Midas has given me a way to return to real life.

Be sure to visit the Land of PureGold Foundation for almost 90 more heroic tales.

Paws to Freedom class in action

Did you know?
Assistance dogs are generally evaluated and trained by professionals through formal organizations. However, many programs that provide service dogs have long waiting lists, are out of state, or charge too much money.

Through new resources (DVDs, online groups, etc.), many in the disabled community are training their own dogs to help in everyday tasks. There are a multitude of tasks that dogs can be trained to perform that qualify the dogs as service dogs under federal law. In actuality, there are more owner-trained service dogs in the United States than the service dogs from all of the programs combined.

Paws to Freedom, a Service Dog Team education group, teaches those with disabilities to positively train their own service dog. Christina, Paws to Freedom President, has Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair. You will see her in the video with her 2-year-old Golden, Maverick, who she trained to be her assistance dog.

Learn more at our foundation’s site about our talented Golden Assistance Dogs, with many wonderful videos of these dogs in action. Just click here.

National Service Dog Eye Exam Day

The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) in association with Pet Health Systems, will host an unprecedented event in veterinary medicine the week of May 12, 2008. Over 140 board certified veterinary ophthalmologists will provide FREE eye exams to America’s Service Dogs. Pet Health Systems will provide a FREE lifestyle assessment, a biochemical profile, and complete blood count through their Pet Wellness Report and primary care veterinarians. It is anticipated that through these efforts Service Dog Health can be improved and potential disease averted.

Qualifying Service Dog groups include: guide dogs, mobility assistance dogs, detection dogs, and search & rescue dogs. Dogs must be active ‘working dogs’ that were certified by a formal training program or organization or currently enrolled in a formal training program to qualify. The certifying organization could be national, regional or local in nature. Essentially the dogs need to have some sort of certification and/or training paperwork to prove their status as a working Service Dog to participate in this year’s program.


Click on the image above to see a video about this special event

Click here for the steps to participate and to Register

How our puppy raisers are able to do it ……

pat-bear-graduation-web2.jpgPat Lawson is a Golden lover after my own heart. Currently a charter member of the Valley of the Sun Volunteer Chapter of Canine Companions for Independence, she has raised nearly 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. A while back she entered in our Labor of Love Photo Contest with a photo that showcased her first CCI puppy Raymond, who graduated in February 2003.

Golden Service Dog Raymond

Below please find a note sent to me by my CCI puppy’s new partner in life. I took this photo moments after meeting LaVonne and being reacquainted with ‘Raymond’ after his six months of formal CCI training. In the 12+ years of raising service puppies, I have never seen such a perfect match like LaVonne and Raymond. Raymond was a very special puppy to raise and had a romance with everyone who met him. It is true . . . Everybody Does Love Raymond! — Pat

Thank you for raising Raymond and training him so well and especially for giving him up—I love him so much I was willing to accept any dog they gave me but I fell in love with only Raymond the first day. They gave me different dogs in the AM and Raymond in the afternoon. There was such a difference—a magic between Raymond and me. He seemed so happy with me and followed my commands more quickly and easily. He’d turn his head toward me and look at me with those beautiful eyes and my heart melted—and still does. Working together just seemed more natural and easier with Raymond. At the beginning of the first week they gave me five different dogs to work with but by the middle, two (Raymond & Jomar)—and on Friday we could write the reasons we wanted a particular dog knowing it was still the trainer’s decision. I selected Raymond stating I felt a special connection that made our working together more effective. I am so thankful they felt the same way. Now when I look at the impromptu pictures taken during training—I can see a real sparkle and love in my face when working with Raymond.

The second week was terrifying as we were told no dog assignment was for sure, that they could change dog assignments at any time and we also had to pass all written and practical tests on Friday. The fear of losing a dog you already love made that last week very difficult and scary. I guess I should have had more self confidence but with the decision in someone else’s hands, not mine, I feared a broken heart if I did not get to take Raymond home Friday afternoon. I was told I had one of the highest scores ever on the written test, passed the practical and that I would be coming back in six weeks for one whole day to finalize the public certification with the rest of the class. Upon hearing that I was taking Raymond home, I cried with joy and relief. We quickly left the room and I invited Raymond up to my lap and we had the biggest hugging, loving, tearful exchange that was one of the most emotional times of my life. We were finally a team and we were going home together! — LaVonne

Pat just let me know about a very special video, with this special message:

This video features a young boy and his new CCI dog. It is all about why I can say goodbye to my great puppies once they are ready to go back to advanced training.

Living again due to Golden Retriever Phoebe

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This is Phoebe and Bob Breland. The story of these two is truly unbelievable, and there was so much sadness in Bob’s life for quite a while.

A car accident in 2001 took Bob’s sight and left him with limited mobility. He and his wife Joyce lost their son in the accident and for a time, Joyce thought she would lose her husband as well. He suffered many broken bones, lost a finger, and was in a coma for weeks, and the multiple attempts to restart his heart between hospitals after the accident destroyed his optic nerve, leaving him blind.

Phoebe comes from New Life Mobility Assistance Dogs, one of the many groups detailed at our huge Nationwide listing of Assistance Dog Organizations.

Click here to learn more about how this wonderful little girl has been a true lifesaver.

Last call for “Golden” naval oranges

pat-bear-graduation-web2.jpgI recently did a story about my special Golden puppy raiser pal, Pat Lawson. I am glad that it did 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 nearly 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.

orange-pic-with-orli.jpgPat has a mini orange grove in Arizona with oranges that are very special, actually growing at the base of the San Tan mountains, in soil that promoted incredible sweetness.

I am too embarrassed to tell you how many boxes I have special ordered, but let’s just say that I will be drinking orange juice for months to come lol. These totally organic oranges have been just wonderful and I am already on Pat’s list to get many, many boxes at next year’s season.

Pat has sweet navels available for ordering here: arizonanaveloranges.com

Service Dogs in Virginia got a paw up today with Matt’s Bill

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Disabled by a disease called x-linked hydrocephalus, Matt needs to get around in a wheelchair. He has a service dog named Calder (Cal) who is trained to open and close doors for him, turn lights on and off, and pick up things that he drops on the floor. But, the Stafford School system has not allowed Service Golden mix Cal to attend class with Matt at Margaret Brent Elementary School or at his previous school, Garrisonville Elementary. They say Cal is not necessary for Matt’s education, also indicating that they aren’t “public entities” as defined in the Virginians with Disabilities Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act.

This is not uncommon in many systems across the country, and we often also hear about parents making complaints related to dog allergies and the like. It is nice to see parents being proactive enough to fight for a law through their state legislature, even though I believe it should be a right extended to all public school youngsters throughout the US.

Read more about Matt’s Bill here.

Pat Lawson’s Golden mission

pat-bear-graduation-web2.jpgPat is a Golden lover after my own heart. She has raised nearly 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.

Pat has been very active at the Land of PureGold, having entered many of our fun photo and writing contests

She actually entered one of our first photo contests, Goldens Bymyside, and this photo below, entitled Dog Pile, is one of our favorites. It was entered in our Sweet Golden Smiles Contest

Chandler, Teddy & Miller

Pat also entered in our Labor of Love Photo Contest with a photo that showcased her first CCI puppy Raymond, who graduated in February 2003.

Golden Service Dog Raymond

Below please find a note sent to me by my CCI puppy’s new partner in life. I took this photo moments after meeting LaVonne and being reacquainted with ‘Raymond’ after his six months of formal CCI training. In the 12+ years of raising service puppies, I have never seen such a perfect match like LaVonne and Raymond. Raymond was a very special puppy to raise and had a romance with everyone who met him. It is true . . . Everybody Does Love Raymond!
— Pat

Thank you for raising Raymond and training him so well and especially for giving him up—I love him so much I was willing to accept any dog they gave me but I fell in love with only Raymond the first day. They gave me different dogs in the AM and Raymond in the afternoon. There was such a difference—a magic between Raymond and me. He seemed so happy with me and followed my commands more quickly and easily. He’d turn his head toward me and look at me with those beautiful eyes and my heart melted—and still does. Working together just seemed more natural and easier with Raymond. At the beginning of the first week they gave me five different dogs to work with but by the middle, two (Raymond & Jomar)—and on Friday we could write the reasons we wanted a particular dog knowing it was still the trainer’s decision. I selected Raymond stating I felt a special connection that made our working together more effective. I am so thankful they felt the same way. Now when I look at the impromptu pictures taken during training—I can see a real sparkle and love in my face when working with Raymond.

The second week was terrifying as we were told no dog assignment was for sure, that they could change dog assignments at any time and we also had to pass all written and practical tests on Friday. The fear of losing a dog you already love made that last week very difficult and scary. I guess I should have had more self confidence but with the decision in someone else’s hands, not mine, I feared a broken heart if I did not get to take Raymond home Friday afternoon. I was told I had one of the highest scores ever on the written test, passed the practical and that I would be coming back in six weeks for one whole day to finalize the public certification with the rest of the class. Upon hearing that I was taking Raymond home, I cried with joy and relief. We quickly left the room and I invited Raymond up to my lap and we had the biggest hugging, loving, tearful exchange that was one of the most emotional times of my life. We were finally a team and we were going home together!
— LaVonne

Pat also entered a very special essay in our Healing Power of Gold Writing Contest a few years back. You can check it out here.

My latest GReat photo from Pat came last month. It shows two more wonders that she has trained. I am sure you will love it as much as I do.

teddytavi.jpg
3-year-old Teddy and 4-month-old Tavi

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