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!

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Also, be sure to click here
for the page we’ve created for Ricochet.

The Real Dog Therapists of Dallas

Baylor Health Care System takes you behind the scenes of the animal assisted therapy program at Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation in “The Real Dog Therapists of Dallas.”

In Episode 1, meet “Eli,” the golden retriever, and the rest of his co-workers as they give us a glimpse into a day at the office. Turns out, it’s not that different from ours.

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In Episode 2, competition heats up between “Maverick” and “Star,” and siblings “Ajax” and “Nemo” score a coveted treat from a patient on the third floor.

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In Episode 3, “Star” and “Oliver” explain their dedication to patient care and the dogs plan a happy hour after a long day at work.

Golden Angel … the best behaved student

I simply love this video. Golden Retriever Angel is a therapy dog who works at Academy at the Farm, a charter school designed to meet the needs of all students in an inclusive environment.

My favorite part is seeing Angel sitting on the floor during an activity, among an entire class of youngsters. She also is so wonderful when the teacher is playing a math game at the front of the room. And, tunnel time is too funny. Sweet Angel just seems like any other student in the room …. albeit, somewhat furrier, with 4 legs, and a tail.

Learn more about therapy dogs and groups at our foundation site.

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.

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.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Don’t know who is funnier: Golden Porkchop or her Dad

I just added the funniest tale to my Foundation site’s Golden Oldies section. The author, Scotty Richardson, who has done much therapy dog work, actually submitted a prize-winning entry, Goldens ─ Behind Bars, in our very first contest here at the Land of PureGold. Here is the beginning of Golden Retriever Porkchop’s story:

No, this is not a eulogy. Although Porkchop, now 14 years young, recently suffered a nasty infection. We did fear for her life. Antibiotics cleared up the problem, and we’re happy to report Porkchop is back to being perverse. A true curmudgeon!!

I don’t like eulogies. Make me feel bad. Usually means somebody died. Plus they’re generally inaccurate. All of a sudden somebody you thought was a real S. O. B. is characterized as another Ghandi or Mother Theresa. If you thought so tell the individual before they’re tossing dirt in their faces. Or not. You could just go with the S. O. B. and tell them how you REALLY feel. So I’m writing this instead. A**tribute** to a truly Golden character! Before she qualifies for Sainthood!

Porkchop is the result of a gaggle of loose women gathered—uhhhh—strike that—a loosely organized group of women aptly named “The Divas” getting together for some fun in Texas. One of this group brought along a couple of Goldens to join in the fun at the hotel. Porkchop was one of them. From that first meeting with Porkchop, my bride, Michael knew there was something different and alluring about Porkchop. This was confirmed the first night when Porkchop endeared herself to an unnamed Diva. You see, Porkchop has this little game she plays with—herself. She grabs a tennis ball, jumps up on a bed or couch and balances the tennis ball as close to the edge as possible. She then nudges the ball with her nose **ever** so gently, until the ball becomes a victim of my old enemy, gravity, and tumbles off the edge. Next, reflexes take over. The point of Porkchop’s penultimate polo is to catch the ball before it hits the floor. Hence, a 70-pound dog lunges off the bed attempting to catch said ball. The act of lunging and leaping is cute, unless you’re the hapless Diva upon whose bed Porkchop has chosen to play with herself. Did I say play with herself? That didn’t come out right.

And, here’s the rest of the story . . .

So sad for Animal-Assisted Activities to be effected this way

Pet Therapy Dogs May Carry MRSA And Clostridium Difficile Between Patients

ScienceDaily (May 8, 2009) —  University of Guelph in Canada researchers investigated whether MRSA and C.difficile could be passed between pet therapy dogs and patients. The findings suggested that MRSA and C. difficile may have been transferred to the fur and paws of these canine visitors through patients handling or kissing the dogs, or through exposure to a contaminated healthcare environment.

This study was conducted amongst 26 pet therapy dog-handler teams between June – August 2007. Twelve teams visited acute care facilities and 14 visited long-term care facilities. Prior to each visit, the dog’s forepaws and their handlers’ hands were tested for MRSA, vancomycin-resistant enterococci and C.difficile. In addition, the investigator sanitized her hands, handled each dog, and then tested her hands for the same pathogens. Testing was repeated on departure from the facility. The dog-handler teams were observed at all times during the visits and all interactions with patients and staff were closely monitored.

None of the tested pathogens were found on the hands of the investigator or the handlers or the paws of the pet-therapy dogs prior to these visits. However, after visiting an acute care facility, one dog was found to have C.difficile on its paws. When the investigator’s hands were tested after handling another dog that had just visited a long-term care facility, MRSA was detected, suggesting the dog had acquired MRSA on its fur. The dog that acquired C.difficile had politely shaken paws with many of the patients. The dog found to have acquired MRSA on its fur, had been allowed onto patient’s beds and was seen to be repeatedly kissed by two patients.

Finding MRSA on the hands of the investigator who petted a dog after its visit to the long-term facility suggests that dogs that have picked up these pathogens can transfer them back to people. Even transient contamination presents a new avenue for transmission, not only for the pathogens evaluated in the study, but potentially for others such as influenza and norovirus.

The authors conclude that in order to contain the transmission of pathogens through contact with pet therapy animals, all patients and handlers should follow recommended hand sanitation procedures; as for the dogs, perhaps it’s time they learn how to clean themselves after contact with humans!


“We are here to make you smile”

Therapy Golden Maggie

Therapy Golden Retriever Maggie Kewley

Mike Kewley, my pal from Shrewsbury Paws, just sent this glorious photo of his Maggie with the following message: “I hope this puts a smile on your face.”

Maggie, who turned 12 in February, has been joined by Golden Retriever Sadie. Mike says Sadie stays close to Maggie all the time. Maggie is hanging in there but has gotten a little stubborn in her old age, showing more of that selective hearing. You know how that works. As soon as Mike mentions sometime about going for a ride or getting cookies, her hearing ability amazingly returns.

Golden Girls Maggie and Sadie

Golden Girls Maggie and Sadie

Mike also shared this Feb 27, 2009 article — “Thinking about Maggie the Therapy Dog, on her Birthday” — that he had written to celebrate and reflect on the occasion.

I wanted to spend some time today to talk about Maggie, my golden retriever, and her pet therapy work with seniors in nursing and rehabilitation centers, as well as her work with kids with cancer, rape and suicide victims. The times we spend with families is to help them to find a way to deal with the pain and the unknown. We spend time with seniors in nursing homes who have no family, or those with the Alzheimer’s disease that took their memory and their life away from them. And also with adults from twenty to fifty that had severe trauma accidents that left them with no motor skills and had to be on ventilators to survive.

After going through a divorce in 2004 after 30 years, this was one of the most painful times in my life. In November, I started Shrewsbury Paws with Maggie to help me deal with the pain inside and reversed it by helping others. If we could make one person smile it was all worth it. She was my support staff and was there for me when I needed her.

She was certified with Therapy Dogs International and also had her AKC Good Canine certificate. This was a series of tests, twenty to thirty that had to be performed flawlessly.

The first year together doing therapy work we visited 3,500 residents and 350 kids in one of the local hospital. There was one special boy with cancer who was in the Pedi ICU unit for a year we visited. Maggie became a celebrity in the Boston and Worcester area, from the local television stations and newspapers. Her work has touched the hearts of so many people.

In August of 2006, Maggie was diagnosed with mast cell cancer stage III. A tumor the size of a golf ball was located deep in her muzzle. After visiting and experiencing families and their loved ones with cancer, we were going to experience what they were going through together. The percentage of her beating this was small and it was going to be a tough regimen of heavy drugs, chemo and radiation. Not to mention the cost of medical expenses that would be there from all of the treatments. This was an emotional roller coaster ride.

In October of 2006 we made a decision to stop the chemo treatments because her body was shutting down and the outcome and percentages of her making it were fading. I received emails from people expressing their support and prayers for her. It was a time in my life that would make the strongest man drop to his knees and cry. It was day by day and in time we started hanging on to the good days and tried not to think too much beyond that. Taking each day like it was going to be your last and we made. It is now just over two years and there have been no signs of the tumor coming back. Someone gave her a second chance at life.

This past year she started having problems with her hips which resulted in having to carry her up and down stairs and she is having a hard time seeing out of one eye. At eighty pounds, she does challenge me at times. Now I spend my time taking care and enjoying my time with her.

Maggie is celebrating her birthday today. At twelve, she has been my companion and has filled my family with love and happiness from the first day we brought her home. I am truly blessed to have her and I’m glad I had the opportunity to share the love I have with her with everyone.

Check out more of Maggie’s story and her successful battle with cancer here.

turning furry Golden lives around . . .

I am in love with the fine Golden Retriever Rescue network that proudly spans the US and does a job that is oftentimes taken for granted. One of my adopted rescues, Golden Retriever Rescue of North Texas, while far from my home in Maryland, has some very special friends that I continue to draw inspiration from.

Recently, I received notice of a special summer edition of the group’s incredible newsletter. The newsletter is provided through the work of two wonderful ladies, Anne Visser and Barb Justice. This recent issue features many GRRNT rescue Goldens who have become assistance and therapy dogs. They’ve collected some wonderful heartwarming stories about these Goldens that came to rescue needing help and are now giving back to humankind. There’s Levi, Travis, Shasta, Brendon, Katy, Bo, Shasta and so many others. (On the right is adorable Therapy Golden Lady.)

You can enjoy the newsletter in its entirety by clicking here.

I have stolen one of the stories (of Bo) to give you a Golden delicious taste . . . . .

Bo Stipe

Sometimes our Goldens arrive in their forever homes with undiscovered and surprising unique talents, making the special bond between human and canine even stronger. Such is the case with Bochephus, Bo for short, adopted by the Stipe family in 2003.

Before rescue Bo belonged to a seemingly nice enough family who lived in a huge home in an affluent part of town. One would think living in a good part of town would lead to a nice happy pampered life, but that was not in the cards for Bo. This family acquired him because the children wanted a cute puppy. Unfortunately, and as so often happens, their interest in playing with a cute puppy faded quickly. Poor Bo was banished to the back yard with another senior Golden and neglected for the first two years of his life. There was no obedience training for him. He was rarely given opportunities to socialize with his family or the outside world and he was never exercised. His family fed him by taking a bag of dog kibble out to the back yard, breaking open the bag and spilling the kibble onto the ground for both dogs to eat. Bo never had the simple convenience of feeding from a dog bowl or drinking water from a clean sanitary water bowl. He satisfied his water needs by drinking swimming pool water. When the family divorced and funds were tight they released him to GRRNT. Bo may not have known it then, but his life was about to change dramatically.

As might be expected of a dog with little life experience, social interaction, or obedience skills, Bo had some issues to overcome once rescued by GRRNT. He would need extra care before he was ready to go to his forever home. Bo was afraid to walk on a leash, afraid to walk outside his back yard and afraid of the car. He was physically carried by the GRRNT intake volunteer to her SUV because of these fears. His foster family discovered he was afraid to eat out of a dog bowl, which was an unfamiliar object to him. They had to gradually and patiently work with him to acclimate him to a feeding dish, starting with a cookie sheet, moving on to a 13×9 pan, and finally to a dog bowl. Bo was also so terrified of being left alone outside he learned to scale fences. He was so afraid of being left alone inside the house he developed separation anxiety, breaking out of his crate and “freaking out”.

Bo also suffered from health issues that GRRNT addressed during his foster care. Veterinarians discovered he had an autoimmune clotting illness needing treatment before he could be neutered. Once treated and healthy, he was neutered. Fortunately Bo is healthy today.

While in foster care, the mischievous side of Bo’s personality emerged. He began to chew up his foster family’s books and magazines and hide when his fosters came home. His fosters also discovered that bottles of wine from the wine rack were mysteriously disappearing, one by one. The “thief” was caught after Bo was discovered gingerly taking the bottles, one at a time, from the rack, carrying them outside the dog doors and burying them in the back yard. Luckily, no wine bottles were broken during these episodes.

Bo was eventually moved to the home of Troy and Becca Matheny for foster care. Becca’s parents, Robert and Judy Stipe, were asked to puppy sit him during the day while his foster parents were at work. In a true fairy tale ending, it was love at first sight between Bo and the Stipe family, which also includes son Wes who suffers from Cerebral Palsy. Life for Bo and his new family was about to change in a wonderful way.

After his adoption, a behaviorist was consulted to develop a plan of action to desensitize him to being left alone. Today he is comfortable staying alone for short periods of time.

Bo and Wes formed an immediate strong bond that can only be described as magical. Bo became a special guardian and watchful protector of Wes. Although Bo has no special training as a service or assistance dog, he began to take on this role with Wes. He has the uncanny ability to sense what Wes needs and is there to offer his help. At the very first physical therapy session that occurred in the home after his adoption, Bo, without any prompting, automatically helped Wes to steady on the ball by leaning on the side he was sliding towards to help him balance. Everyone, including the physical therapist, is astonished at Bo’s special talent. Additionally he encourages Wes to maintain good head control. He also keeps a smile on Wes’ face during his grueling therapy sessions. When Wes has a coughing episode (a side effect of Cerebral Palsy) Bo will run into other rooms in the home to alert a family member that Wes may need assistance. Everyone who knows Bo today is in awe at what a WONDERFUL dog he is and what a truly special bond Wes and he share.

The Stipe family keeps a wine rack in the home at Bo’s level. He no longer feels the need to bury the bottles in the backyard now that he has found his true calling as a guardian and protector of his beloved Wes.

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Don’t forget, check out the entire issue by clicking here.

Afternoons with Puppy … A new Must-Have Book!

pupp.jpgAfternoons with Puppy: Inspirations from a Therapist and His Animals is Dr. Aubrey H. Fine’s newest publication (Nov 2007), his seminal book on animal-assisted therapy, Handbook on Animal-Assisted Therapy: Theoretical Foundations and Guidelines for Practice, now in its second edition.

Dr. Fine, a licensed psychologist and professor at California State Polytechnic U, is an internationally renowned export on Animal-Assisted Therapy.

The praise for Professor Fine’s newest book is quite extensive . . . and telling. And, truly, it would be hard for me to improve upon the magical words of authors Dean Koontz & Susan Chernak McElroy, or that of Dr. Marty Becker, who provides the book’s foreword. The book is described this way:

The inspirational stories in Afternoons with Puppy are all about recovery. Dr. Fine’s journey with his animals have enriched the lives of many patients. The subtle interactions, the soft touches, the silent signals of Fine’s unique therapeutic process have led to awe-inspiring successes.

Afternoons with Puppy is a compelling story of discovery the discovery of a brilliant process of learning and relearning from therapist to patient to animal. Within the pages, Fine reveals how more than twenty years of continual engagement has uncovered new paths, connected hope and healing, and renewed meaning and purpose.

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I must admit that this book had quite special meaning for me, and much of its reflections could have come from my own experiences in utilizing my Goldens through private practice work with children. And, I read it cover to cover and was captivated throughout. Dr. Fine is a wonderful storyteller, which has surely enabled him to be an incredible therapist.

This is a must-have book that will be enjoyed by dog lovers and non dog lovers alike.

The video below features Pet Talk Radio’s Kaye Browne and Professor Aubrey Fine, who talks about his new Afternoons With Puppy book.

Tears to my eyes

I have come to make many special Golden Retriever friends during my many years on the web, but Chandler Rudd is clearly one who has a unique place in my heart. We came to meet due to his lovely wondergirl, Lucy, who so many people loved and now miss.

Chandler is a very gifted man, who can express the truly important things in life with a clarity that can be breathtaking. I am simply thrilled for him that he will be continuing Lucy’s Legacy.

But, knowing how much the loss of Lucy has affected hi life, I am even more touched by his moving on with his newest Golden addition to the family. There is now a wonderful boy named Luke and Luke has already begun to make a name for himself in the Assisted Animal Therapy world.

I have just added Luke to the site, to also celebrate his new official therapy dog status. Luke is definitely following in the pawprints of Lucy. Read below to experience a story like none other of Luke’s first official therapy dog visit.

A couple of weeks ago, Luke finally received his registration from Therapy Dogs Inc. Things have been hectic here so we haven’t had a chance to pay a visit to Exeter Healthcare….until yesterday [April 28, 2008].

It was a rainy, dreary day. Just perfect for a visit to our favorite rehab center. A thorough brushing to remove any excess fur, and a change of clothes for me and we were off. Luke was excited to go for a ride and when he saw where we were going, he became more animated. We have been here many times before so Luke could work with the staff getting him used to all the things he will encounter during his real visits. Wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, and, oh yes, the inevitable lunch cart were taken by him until they were no big deal. Now, we would put all this work to the test.

Luke and I walked into the facility and were greeted enthusiastically by the staff. Most of the people were old friends and knew Lucy and Ben. They were so happy to see me back with Luke and gave us the royal welcome. We started with the short term rooms where I could get Luke used to visiting people who could interact with him. To my delight, he warmed to the task and delighted everyone he met. He proved to be a “leaner”, resting his body, gently against the patients so they had no choice but to pat him. I watched him very carefully, looking for traits that I would need to work out and others that I would need to encourage. Amazingly, there was not one negative trait that needed correcting. I did see, however, a few I need to encourage. Eye contact, and head resting are my priorities for now.

I felt comfortable enough to take him to the “Vent” wing where people who are paralyzed live. This is a long term care facility and some of these patients have been here for 10 years. I just cannot imagine having to live a life, in a bed, without the ability to move one muscle from your head down. The depression must be enormous. Imagine, then, (assuming you like dogs) the joy of a visit with a beautiful, friendly, golden retriever and an understanding human.

My first patient was “Doug”. Doug has been here for as long as I’ve been visiting. He’s about my age, thin, bald, but with expressive eyes complete with crows feet. How does a guy who has been paralyzed for at least 10 years have crows feet? Doug smiles! He cannot talk but will mouth his words and compliment them with his eyes. Believe it or not, communicating with him is easier than you think. It’s amazing how clear he is when his mouthing a greeting and his eyes are crinkled in a smile. He has seen Luke before but we have not made any physical contact.

I walked into his room and said “Hi Doug! We’re official now!”

His eyes crinkled and he mouthed “Congratulations!”

“How’s he doing?” I read from his lips.

“So far, so good!” I replied.

I explained that because he was so new to this, I wanted to let him look around the room and get used to the equipment that kept Doug alive. I showed Luke the ventilator that was making a rhythmic, wheezing sound followed by a click and the exhaust of air. Next we saw the catheters and electrical cables that carried the waste from Doug and kept him monitored by the nurses station. Luke took all this with aplomb. Finally, I brought him to Doug’s side and told Doug what I wanted to do.

When Lucy was alive, I would lift her out of her stroller and place her in the bed with Doug. She would make her way to his head where she would give him kisses. Because of Doug’s paralysis, he has no feeling anywhere on his body with the exception of his head. Lucy seemed to know this and Doug absolutely loved it!

I told Doug that I was going to place Luke’s big paws on the side of his bed, next to his head so Luke will understand that this is where he needs to go to make meaningful contact with Doug. He crinkled his eyes and mouthed “OK!”

I told Luke “UP!” and “Easy!” and lifted his paws and placed them on the side of the bed. I covered his paws with my hands in case he reached out. Doug can’t move out of the way and Luke’s claws, although short, could do some damage.

Doug looked at Luke, moving just his eyes, and mouthed “Hi Luke!”

Luke then amazed me by slowly leaning forward until his nose was almost touching Doug. Carefully, gently, he began to lick Doug’s face.

Doug opened his mouth wide in a laugh. His body shook as he laughed. He pursed his lips and made squeaking sounds (Like you were calling a cat) and all the while Luke kept licking. All this took only seconds but for me, time had slowed down to a crawl. Luke finally stopped and pulled away. Doug stopped laughing but the smile remained.

“Good boy!” he mouthed. Then to me, “Thank you!”

“You’re welcome, Doug” I said. “I am so happy that Luke seems to know what he’s doing. I think Lucy’s there beside him, guiding him and encouraging him.”

Doug replied “I think so too.”

Not wanting to stress Luke out, I told Doug that I would be back next week. He thanked me and as we made our way out of his room, Luke looked back at Doug. I could see that he liked the visit and was sad to go.

We had been at the rehab for almost an hour and I decided to call it a day. Luke was beginning to pant. It might have been the heat but he may have reached his limit for the day. We said goodbye to everyone and walked out into the rain.

“Not bad” I thought to myself. “Not bad at all!”

I Love Lucy

A Seven Week old Baby LucyWe have a very special page at our Foundation’s site to honor Therapy Golden Retriever Lucy. It is called, of course, I Love Lucy. Lucy’s special story is everything about what rescue is about, as they faithfully work on to mend the wrongs in our often throw-away type society.

During the week of February 15, 1997, a puppy was found in the North End of Middletown, Connecticut. Two reports were given. One was that the pup was found dumped on a doorstep, in a basket. The other was that she was found in a dumpster. That pup was Lucy, then named Precious.

She was taken to Pieper-Olson Vet Clinic, in Middletown, where it was then learned that she was paralyzed from the waist down. Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue (YGRR) was called and she was admitted into their program. She was transported from there to Yankee’s Vet Clinic, Fremont Animal Hospital, in Fremont, New Hampshire, where more tests were done. Soon after that, Precious was brought to Tufts Vet Hospital for more extensive tests and it was determined that she suffered from a neurological injury, either as a birth defect, or possibly from being dropped soon after birth, although no evidence was found to support that theory. Their recommendation was to euthanize her. YGRR refused and brought her back to Fremont.

If you do not know Lucy’s story, please visit her very special page of honor. There are many wonderful stories, photos, and video clips to enjoy. Here are her parents’ (Chandler and Dee Rudd) words about taking Lucy into their family:

Our daughter, Susan, had been telling us about a handicapped Golden at Fremont Animal Hospital for months. She now came home and asked us if we could help this little dog out by taking her into our house. We were to try to housebreak her and socialize her with our two Goldens, Maggie and Bennie. She explained that this was perhaps the last chance for this dog to become adoptable. We really didn’t want a third dog, but Susan said that it would only be temporary. When Lucy became housebroken, she would go back to Riverview and hopefully get adopted. I decided that I wouldn’t become attached to Lucy. I considered her a work in progress …. a job, so to speak.

We had our work cut out for us that first night. Lucy was a sweetheart, but, oh my! The mess! We began by putting her on a schedule. Just like a puppy, she would go out to ‘potty’ right after every meal, as soon as she woke up, and right before bedtime. We praised her after each successful ‘outing’ and after a few days, she was almost perfect. Sure there were some mistakes, but we could see that Lucy was sorry.

One night, Lucy was sleeping on the couch. I looked over at her and watched as she dreamed. Her eyes, although closed, moved as she watched something in her dream world. Her legs moved rhythmically as she chased it. I wondered if she was still handicapped in her dreams, or if she could run as she had never done. I moved closer to her, studying her face, looking at the perfection in her features. Wondering why something so beautiful, so innocent, could be so imperfect. As I drew even closer, Lucy must have sensed my presence. Her eyes opened a little, and when she saw me so near, they opened wide in surprise. Then something happened that changed everything. She recognized me. Her eyes softened, and she leaned closer to me and gently licked my face. This one act went straight to my heart. I knew then that I was totally in love with this little girl. I also knew that we would never part. All our plans for her were now in our hands. She had found her ‘forever home’.

We had originally envisioned Lucy being adopted by a Physical Therapist. Someone who could use her disability along with her wonderful personality to help handicapped children overcome the obstacles in their journey towards rehabilitation. Dee and I felt that Lucy was put on this earth for a purpose. She had come a long way and fought incredible odds just to get this far. Now we had a new job. We wanted to, eventually, use Lucy to help others. It took almost one year. We worked with Lucy, socializing her with other dogs, working her with people, especially children. She loved children! We worked with a local Rehabilitation Hospital, and Lucy became certified as a Therapy Dog to work in that hospital. Later this year, she was also certified by Therapy Dogs International to work in any hospital or nursing home in this country or Canada.

In April 2008, The Goldstock Fund announced the addition of a new fund, LUCY’S LEGACY. During life, Lucy’s courage, determination and unconditional love constantly amazed and inspired everyone she met. All ages, all nationalities, challenged and able-bodied—she touched thousands of lives both physically and emotionally. Lucy was an active therapy dog, and a shining example of the positive life force that can be found in all dogs. Click below to see her on the job, as shown on NHPTV’s Outlook Program on August 6, 2001.

Lucy’s Legacy Fund, actually developed from an idea by YGRR founder Joan Puglia to honor Lucy, will provide therapy dog training as well as activities to enhance the bond between people and their dogs. Proceeds from activities will be given via grants to Golden Retriever rescue programs.

Partnering with other groups that improve our dogs’ quality of life, Lucy’s Legacy will be featuring educational and social activities that explore the health, emotions, and behavior of canine companions. One such program, CAMP LUCY, is providing guided workshops for developing each dog’s emotional and physical potential—so offering relaxation, recreation and social events for people and their canine companions.

The first annual CAMP LUCY, hosted by Camp Robin Hood, will be held September 12-14, 2008 on Ossipee Lake in beautiful Ossipee, New Hampshire. There you can strengthen the bond with your dog in the quiet tranquility of the White Mountains. All meals will be provided by the camp and prepared by their gourmet chef. Snacks and vegetarian selections will also be available. Lodging in the camp cabins is included in the $200 price. Although lodging is shared, the cabins are large and offer plenty of room for you and your dogs. Check out the wonderful activities and workshops, your ability to participate in as many or as few as you choose. Or, if you wish, you can simply enjoy the weekend relaxing with your dog. The camp has a beautiful sandy beach, large fields and miles of hiking trails. For more info, email Chandler Rudd at summerpaws@earthlink.net.

  • First aid and accident prevention
  • Introduction to tracking
  • Flower essence workshops
  • Trick training
  • Introduction to land and water retrieving
  • Daily guided nature walks (on leash)
  • Canine Good Citizenship preparation and test
  • Movies
  • Beach campfires
  • Candlelight ceremony
  • Special senior (and almost senior) seminar: Developing and implementing a comprehensive, holistic, home enrichment program for your senior.

Hospice Therapy Golden Retriever Annie …. Now at work!

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Three months ago I brought you the wonderful story about Annie and her wonderful trainer, Jo. This is Annie working with trainer Jo Brosius. A Golden who was rescued after being dumped on a farm, she will live at a new Hospice as their resident therapy dog. It is an incredible tale of a dog who needed much help, both physically and behaviorally, but who is now, such a lady and ready to continue on her special mission.

Well, Jo just contacted me with this lovely update.

Rochelle! I came across your site when searching for articles about goldens used in therapy, and noticed you had posted an article about me and Annie, a sweet golden girl I trained for a Hospice here in Kentucky. Your background is incredible, and no doubt with your psychology background you understand all the value these wonderful dogs can add to our lives. Annie is one of 6 goldens I have rescued and trained – one for a lady in a wheelchair, three for hospital work, one as a companion to a developmentally disabled girl, and Annie. Sadly, one of the dogs I trained succumbed to cancer a year after his training :(, but while he was with me, he made a lot of patients happy.

It may interest you to know Annie started seeing patients last week and is doing beautifully! She’s a good girl and is helping a lot of patients and their families. A follow up article was done in the Richmond Register on Monday, April 7th. Thanks for spreading the word about these wonderful dogs!

Here is Annie now in her first job as the therapy dog for the new Hospice Care Plus in-patient center. She is shown here getting acquainted with Dr. Hanan Budeiri, left, the center’s medical director, and Gail McGillis, Hospice Care Plus chief executive. The facility accepted its first patient last Friday.

Annie is allowed to roam the hallways, but is trained not to enter a room unless invited. To demonstrate her training, Annie sat at the threshold of a room Friday and waited patiently until she was beckoned.

“The patient’s face really brightened when he saw Annie and got to pet her,” said Dr. Hanan Budeiri, the facility’s medical director. “He and his wife really loved having Annie come in to visit. I think she will bring a lot of joy and comfort to our patients.”

Annie wears a jacket that reads, “Ask to pet me. I’m friendly.”

Remembering Therapy Golden Retriever Inker

It is a always a sad day when I learn about another one of our special Golden souls losing their battle with cancer. I just received this note from Doreen Rinaldo, one of the people who put together the “Friends of Inker” campaign to help raise funds for his treatment.

Hello Rochelle, I am very sad to report that Inker passed away today in the loving arms of Pat Dobson. Inker continued to make visits to the patients and employees at Trinitas Cancer center up until one week ago. The cancer just suddenly spread everywhere, and it was time to end his suffering. Thank you so much for the support and encouragement that you bestowed upon Pat and Inker. He was such a special, loving boy, and he will always be remembered . . .

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Here is an earlier post from only a few months ago when we were able to help in the Friends of Inker effort.

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Inker receiving a chemotherapy treatment

We are so happy to announce that Inker is a recipient of our of our Foundation’s Working Dog Cancer Treatment Grants.

inker22.jpg This is Golden Inker showing off the shirt that he wears when he does his therapy visits to help human cancer patients at Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, NJ. It is obviously quite inspiring.

I simply love it. It is just the perfect way for Inker to show empathy. Mom, Pat Dobson, had a great idea when she decided to have this shirt created for her boy.

inkcin.jpgThis 9-year-old dude is from New Jersey and has been working at hospitals, going twice weekly for 2 years now, actually having visited nearly 900 patients. Sadly, he was diagnosed last month with lymphoma and is now receiving weekly chemo treatments.

I love the part near the end of the clip when Inker plants a wet one on Newscaster Cindy Hsu (the reason for her smiling face).

Click on Inker below to see a wonderful video clip of this boy in action.

Remembering Therapy Golden Retriever George

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Their Companion No More

Part of George’s uniqueness was his uncanny ability to sense human suffering, Kostad said, and attach himself to those in pain.Sometimes, George would notice residents beginning to slip away even before the valley staff or their families did, Kostad said, and would begin spending extra time in their rooms.

Once George followed one of the home’s housekeepers around for most of a Friday, and though she’d felt no pain before, she was hospitalized that weekend for a heart ailment, Kostad said. After that, it became a joke among staff members and some residents that it was a bad omen if George followed you around too long, and if he did, perhaps you should head to the doctor for a checkup.

George’s caretaking skills came from years of practice. His first owner was a social worker in Jamestown, N.D., who used to take him along to visit ailing clients. After she died suddenly, George spent some time at an assisted living center south of Bismarck before coming to the Valley Memorial Home in 2002.

“This is pretty much what he did his entire life,” Kostad said.

During Tuesday’s memorial service, the home’s two chaplains read Bible verses and poems, including the “Prayer of St. Francis,” the great animal lover. Staff members and residents shared memories of George and the chaplains led the group in a prayer for George.

“Like an angel, he was there to comfort those in need,” that prayer said in part, “and made us feel loved when we needed it the most. As we say goodbye to this wonderful companion dog, we are thankful for the gift we have received of having been a part of his life as well.”

Therapy Golden Maggie back in the news

prot.jpgOur favorite Therapy Golden girl, Maggie, of Shrewsbury Paws is back in the news with a report on “Holistic Healing.” Click on the video for the full scoop.

And, to learn more about the homemade totally organic diet (there being different formulas for every health condition, including cancer) and an important supplement that we have utilized for years, click here.

Arlene and her five 4-Footed Therapists

5gir.jpgArlene Sansone is one special lady. Honestly, I was impressed just by her being able to maintain such a huge furry family, with one Golden, one Cavalier, and three Shelties.

Almost every day, she and one of her golden girls hop in the car and head for a local hospital or nursing home. Faith, Hope, Grace, Belle and Queen each have their own places they visit, based on their size or temperament.

She and her son Randy Goss own the dogs, three shelties, a golden retriever and a Cavalier Spaniel, who are all obedience champions, and she has a regular rotation of places she and one of her dogs visit.

Mondays they hit the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. On Tuesdays, it’s Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Wednesdays, it’s Bridgewood Pointe at the Drake Center. And Fridays, they are back at Children’s Hospital.

In between their regular rotation, the girls visit local libraries and youngsters read to the dogs.

Golden Inker recipient of our Foundation’s Working Dog Cancer Treatment Grant

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Inker receiving a chemotherapy treatment

We are so happy to announce that Inker is a recipient of our Foundation’s Working Dog Cancer Treatment Grants. His mom, Pat Dobson, has been really struggling with the bills and we were certainly glad to help. You, too, can donate to the cause by checking out Golden Inker’s own page.

inker22.jpg This is Golden Inker showing off the shirt that he wears when he does his therapy visits to help human cancer patients at Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, NJ. It is obviously quite inspiring.

I simply love it. It is just the perfect way for Inker to show empathy. Mom, Pat Dobson, had a great idea when she decided to have this shirt created for her boy.

inkcin.jpgThis 9-year-old dude is from New Jersey and has been working at hospitals, going twice weekly for 2 years now, actually having visited nearly 900 patients. Sadly, he was diagnosed last month with lymphoma and is now receiving weekly chemo treatments.

I love the part near the end of the clip when Inker plants a wet one on Newscaster Cindy Hsu (the reason for her smiling face).

Click on Inker below to see a wonderful video clip of this boy in action.

inks.jpg

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Therapy Golden Inker: Cancer Survivor

inker2.jpg
Inker receiving a chemotherapy treatment

inker22.jpg This is Golden Inker showing off the shirt that he wears when he does his therapy visits to help human cancer patients at Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, NJ. It is obviously quite inspiring.

I simply love it. It is just the perfect way for Inker to show empathy. Mom, Pat Dobson, had a great idea when she decided to have this shirt created for her boy.

inkcin.jpgThis 9-year-old dude is from New Jersey and has been working at hospitals, going twice weekly for 2 years now, actually having visited nearly 900 patients. Sadly, he was diagnosed last month with lymphoma and is now receiving weekly chemo treatments.

I love the part near the end of the clip when Inker plants a wet one on Newscaster Cindy Hsu (the reason for her smiling face).

Click on Inker below to see a wonderful video clip of this boy in action.

inks.jpg

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