Golden Retrievers on duty

Duffy, only 15-months-old, is already being trained for Drug Detection. You can learn more about our potent drug-detectors here.

And, here’s Golden Rocky, an explosive/bomb Detection Dog, searching for explosives off lead. You can learn more about this type of detection here.

Making Amends

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

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

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


Vodpod videos no longer available.


Vodpod videos no longer available.

Golden Retriever Rescue Jake … what a boy!

Don Hamer, 67, of Mill Creek affectionately warms and dries his dog, Jake, after the 4-year-old golden retriever finished playing in the water at Martha Lake Park in Lynnwood on Tuesday. Jake is a lot more than a pet. Hamer, who has epilepsy, believes Jake is capable of warning him of a seizure up to 45 minutes before it happens. Dan Bates / The Herald

I just love this story about Don Hamer and his rescued Golden boy Jake. Jake knows he was a lucky guy to be adopted, and is attached like glue to his dad. Don learned that the hard way when he returned from a trip without him. Poor Jake had scraped the fur off of 2 legs and barked himself hoarse.

Hamer, a soft-spoken, wiry 66-year-old retiree, says he adopted Jake in Albany, N.Y., Hamer’s former home, when the dog was 4 weeks old in late 2005. A friend told Hamer about a nearby adoption fair featuring dogs rescued from Gulf Coast states after Hurricane Katrina. That 2005 storm displaced thousands of people and separated pets from their owners in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Arriving at the adoption event, Hamer says he saw hundreds of malnourished and sickly dogs packed into shipping containers. He remembers seeing seven golden retriever pups and their mother. One of the pups was separated from the others. “I saw his mother had pushed him out of the litter,” he said. “She wouldn’t let him nurse.” He adopted the dog that day, nursed him to health and named him Jake.

The issue of seizure prediction, however, remains a cloudy one as most report that dogs with this ability have only developed it over time, the talent actually discovered accidentally. In 1998, Roger Reep, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of physiological sciences at the University of Florida, surveyed 77 people between the ages of 30 and 60 who had epilepsy. The survey asked about their quality of life, medical status, attitudes toward pets, ownership of dogs, and their pets’ behavior prior to and during a seizure.

Only 3 out of the 31 felt that their dogs seemed to know when they were going to have a seizure (10 percent). Another 28 percent said their dogs stayed with them when they had a seizure. According to his research, the behavior seems to occur spontaneously and may occur in as many as one in ten situations when the owner is having at least one seizure per month. Dr. Reep concluded that reports of seizure-alerting behavior in dogs should be viewed as credible, but with caution.

Learn more about these types of assistance dogs here.

Seizure-Alert Dogs – Super Sniffers or not?

Colise Johnson, 42, spent two weeks in September at a canine training camp getting acquainted with Ben. Photo/CNN

We have a great new video on Seizure Alert Dogs, featuring a wonderful Golden Retriever named Ben.

Learn more about this unique application from our super Assistance Dogs with respect to the controversy about their use.

Can dogs sniff out seizures?

There is some controversy about this, especially since a large amount of seizures have been found to be of psychogenic rather than organic origin. You can read up on this at our Foundation’s site, as well as watching the very informative video news report below with Dr. Nicholas Dodman BVMS MRCVS, Professor and Director of the Behavior Clinic at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. Click below to see this fascinating report.

Lifesaver Golden Retriever Windu

Canine Assistance in Pittsburgh

Steven Gross depends on Golden Windu for assistance in the event of an epileptic seizure. Photo by Keith Hodan/Tribune-Review.

For almost 20 years, Stephen Gross lived with the fear that an epileptic seizure could send him crashing into a table and leave him unable to call for help. He doesn’t worry about that anymore.

Gross, 38, of Zelienople recently celebrated his first year with Windu, a golden retriever trained to sense the onset of a seizure, move furniture out of the way and press a call button that alerts emergency services.

Golden Retriever Mealy Bug Detectors

This is Golden Ros sniffing mealybug pheromones on a Napa Valley grapevine. We love seeing our Goldens using their intelligent sniffers to help in our lives. This is just one of the applications in scent detection. You can learn about many more working fields related to the olfactory sense at my “Sniffers” page at the foundation site. Just remember, to our dogs, the whole world is a smell.

And, to see a cool video of Golden Ros and her buddies on the job, just click here where you can also learn more about Agriculture Detection Dogs.

Dogs With a Nose For Mealybugs Go To Work in Napa – Challenge Is to Sniff Out Pests Ruining the Grapes; Ros Passes the Smell Test
By JIM CARLTON, Wall Street Journal

RUTHERFORD, Calif. — On a recent afternoon here at the Honig Vineyard and Winery, dog trainer Edwina Ryska wandered through a tangle of grapevines with her golden retriever Ros. “Go search!” Ms. Ryska told the year-old pup.

Ros bounded off, her nose in the air, looking for bugs hoping to mate.

Love is in the air in Napa, and it’s Ros’s job to sniff it out. With her siblings — Rigo, Richardson and Rousek — she was bred and trained to use a special new talent to find vine mealybugs that are having sex.

Mealybugs — cream-colored, oval-shaped critters so small that dozens can fit in a square inch — have become a big problem for the California wine industry. The rapidly reproducing insects, often accompanied by an army of ants to protect them, feed on vines and ruin grapes by leaving heavy excretions of mold-forming honeydew. Over the past 13 years, the bugs have spread north from Southern California into the Napa-Sonoma wine country, forcing vintners to spend as much as $30 million a year trying to eradicate them. But the bugs are notoriously difficult to pin down; hundreds cram together to hide under bark and roots.

That makes dogs like Ros a potentially important new weapon in the fight to protect vineyard grapes. Trained to detect the scent of female mealybugs in heat, the dogs point and bark when they smell mealybugs on a grapevine. Workers can then cut away the infected vine limb before it contaminates the rest of the crop.

“It’s one of those cool ideas in science that if it takes off, it would be fantastic,” says Kent Daane, an agriculture researcher for the University of California at Berkeley.

The dogs aren’t proven bug sleuths yet. Ros and her siblings were bred only last year as part of an ambitious experiment for Honig and some other local Napa wineries. The pups will need at least another year to be fully field-worthy, their handlers say. The test “has a long way to go,” says Mr. Daane.

Still, the dogs intrigue many in wine country because mealybugs are such a tenacious foe. Once the bugs’ telltale honeydew can be seen on the grapes, whole sections of a vineyard have often been infested. Between 30,000 and 40,000 acres of California grapes are currently infested with vine mealybugs first discovered in the state in 1994, with annual damages of $3 million to $5 million, state officials estimate. Researchers hypothesize that the bug entered the U.S. illegally on some Israeli vine cuttings in the early 1990s and then started spreading.

“It’s like the war on terror,” says Ross Smith, a pest-control adviser in Napa Valley. “These guys are trying to attack our way of life, and we need to find and neutralize them.”

In early 2005, Michael Honig, president of the family-owned Honig Vineyard, and a group of local vintners concluded that early detection was key and decided to train dogs to sniff out the bugs. Theorizing that a dog’s keen sense of smell could work as well as insecticides without causing any of the environmental fallout, they contacted the nearby Assistance Dog Institute in Santa Rosa, which trains companion dogs for paraplegics and other disabled people.

“We knew about dogs being able to sniff out drugs and bombs, so we wondered if they could be trained to sniff out a vineyard pest,” says Mr. Honig, 45 years old, whose family has owned his 70-acre vineyard since 1964. While mealybugs haven’t attacked his property, Mr. Honig says, “We wanted to be proactive.” He and some other vintners contributed about $50,000 to pay for testing the theory.

At the institute, workers began exposing a litter of seven-week-old golden retriever pups in late 2005 to a synthetic version of the mealybug smell. Mr. Honig says retrievers were chosen because the breed does well working with humans as guide dogs and in other capacities. “Theirs is the best breed for detective work,” he says.

To help brand the odor in the dogs’ memory, the female mealybugs’ pheromones were planted in bowls of dog food. Because the smell is too faint for the human nose to detect, nobody was certain the puppies would be able to smell the mealybugs.

There’s lots more in this informative article . . . .

Scent Detection Golden Retriever Cooper on AMW Show Tonite 9pm

I have never watched the show but maybe tonight will have to be an exception.

‘America’s Most Wanted’ lauds police dog’s efforts in solving guard’s slaying
Gina Tenorio, Staff Writer

It was a murder case that took two years to solve. The 2004 slaying of Corey Medlock – a Brinks Armored Truck security guard from San Bernardino – will be featured today on “America’s Most Wanted.” The one-hour show airs at 9 p.m. on Fox.

The show will cast its spotlight on Cooper, a golden retriever and a specially trained scent dog with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department who is credited with solving the case in 2006.

Officials and the show’s producers say the dog led investigators to Ronald Patrick Hoffman, 37, the man eventually named as Medlock’s killer, said Ed Miller, a correspondent with “America’s Most Wanted.” According to a Riverside police news release issued in 2004, Medlock entered a Food 4 Less store in the 4200 block of Van Buren Boulevard the morning of Jan. 8 to make a cash delivery when a man in disguise approached from behind and shot him in the head.

The gunman then grabbed the money bag, which held $3,000, and ran out to a waiting red Ford Taurus, officials said. Medlock, 28, died the next day at Riverside Community Hospital. A stolen red 2002 Ford Taurus believed to be the getaway car was later found abandoned at a medical office in the 3900 block of Van Buren Boulevard.

Hundreds of leads were generated by news of the killing. A reward was offered, and the case was featured on “America’s Most Wanted,” but no one had been arrested for years, officials said. Then, last summer, Riverside County sheriff’s deputies got word that an armed man was threatening customers at a store in Mira Loma. The suspect, later identified as Hoffman, led authorities on a brief chase July 25 that ended with deputies fatally wounding him, officials said.

News clippings of Medlock’s shooting were found among Hoffman’s things, officials said, helping them put the pieces together. That’s when Cooper was brought in to match the scents taken from the suspect’s shoes and the 2002 Taurus, Miller said. “We ran this story several times on `America’s Most Wanted,”‘ Miller said. Referring to Cooper’s abilities, he said, “we felt this was a fascinating tool that hardly gets any attention.”

Service Golden Retriever Ivan’s Training: Accentuating the positive


This GReat photo from John T. Greilick, of The Detroit News, shows Maltby Middle School guidance counselor Dian Kolis with her Assistance Golden, Ivan. He is aptly demonstrating his recovery skills as he picks up sixth-grader Joey Vollmer’s wallet.

Check out the following news article and then Dian’s own essay to learn how truly special this partnership is between Dian Kolis and her “Walk/Brace” Assistance Golden Ivan. I further learned that this very astute Golden boy wears a harness to help Dian balance and navigate stairs, as well as help her sit and stand. He is also trained to step on her foot should she “freeze” in a Parkinson’s stall. Further, Ivan retrieves the telephone, picks up dropped items, and helps Dian up from a fall. I also visited PAWs with a Cause, the wonderful Assistance Dog group that had trained this team and learned so much more. I hope you read through the following pieces so that as Paul Harvey says . . . . “now you know the rest of the story.”

Students reading to help sponsor assistance dog
By Lisa Carolin, Ann Arbor News Staff Reporter

A school counselor and her trusty golden retriever have inspired students at Maltby Middle School to read for 20 minutes a day for the entire month of March, which is National Reading Month.

Maltby Counselor Dian Kolis returned to Maltby after a five-year absence because she was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Thanks to donations from three schools in Oakland County with the help of the United Way, Kolis was able to afford Ivan, a PAWS With A Cause Dog, who has literally given her the strength to return to her job.

“It’s because of Ivan that I could return to work and because of him that I am ambulatory,” says Kolis. “My coworkers had the idea to pay it forward, and we want to sponsor a PAWS With A Cause assistance dog for someone else in Livingston County.”

Students at Maltby are collecting pledges for minutes read during march that will go to funding a PAWS dog for someone in the county.

“The response has been overwhelming,” says Kolis. “Our students are learning about philanthropy, feeling good about helping someone else.”


Below you will find . . . the rest of the story. It is fascinating to learn that Ivan has saved his partner’s life and alerted to cardiac arrhythmias. Just as interesting, though, is how their partnership was for a time threatened, yet managed to mature into something extraordinary.

By Dian Kolis, PAWS Client

Illness changes a life in an instant. One day I was too busy to stop and smell the roses and, seemingly, the next day I wished I were able to go outside, bend down and smell the delicate fragrance of a rose. I went from being the center of a whirlwind of busy activity to being quietly homebound.

Days might pass before I would leave the house I realized that I had not gone to the store alone in a year. I didn’t go outside to enjoy a sunny warm day. (The last time I was outside, alone, I fell and tore cartilage in my knee.) My days were not filled with creative time with art or needlework. (The hands can’t manipulate those scissors or hold the paintbrush or needle quite right.) Even cooking could be dangerous. (cuts from a slipped grip, oven burns from a trembling hand, falls from bending down to pick up dropped objects.)

Yes, life had changed. Each day brought challenges, loneliness, frustration and tiredness from meeting obstacles. And, when I received the call from Paws With A Cause that there was a possible match of an Assistance Dog who could meet my needs, I did not understand how dramatically my life was to change but again.

August 19, 2003 Ivan came to live with me as my helper. Our Paws With A Cause Field Instructors, Lori Grigg and Helen Dinsmore, had their hands full when they took on Ivan and me. My dog handling experience was very limited and Parkinson’s disease had left me with precarious balance, a slow odd walk, and pronounced muscle weakness. Ivan, on the other hand, was a big, strong, quick, hairy, eager and exuberant nineteen-month-old Golden Retriever. I felt overwhelmed.

Lori and Helen invested countless hours each week teaching Ivan and I to work together as a team. We learned that Ivan and I have many similar personality characteristics. We are both very sensitive to others and get our feelings hurt easily. We share a love of humor and like to play. Ivan quickly learned to slow down and approach his tasks with gentleness and patience. And I learned that lots of praise and a pocket full of treats would get you far in the dog world. But we were both unsure of ourselves and tentative

About seven months into our training we hit a big rough spot in the road. Ivan became less confident and felt overwhelmed by his job’s high level of responsibility. And, I felt that I could not trust him l00%. It was, wisely, suggested that perhaps Ivan should go back to the training center for a “career change.” Ivan and I both were devastated. We might have hit a rough spot in the training road but one thing was still solid: we had come to love and depend on each other. We were not willing to give up on our partnership. Ivan was eager to be my helper; he just needed help in learning how to approach his job with confidence.

With the help and wisdom of Lynn Hoekstra, PAWS SE Michigan Regional Director, Ivan and I began a new training regimen that focused on praise and basic obedience skills. Ivan’s harness was changed from the traditional variety to one that was less restrictive. We worked slowly and patiently through the spring and summer, training several times each week using lots of treats and a clicker to help Ivan understand when he was doing things “right.” Because Ivan responded so positively to praise, we acknowledged all of his positive skills and built on previous successes. Ivan quickly learned what behaviors we valued and, he was eager to please us with those behaviors.

Ivan relaxed and became more in tune to me. I relaxed and began to increasingly trust him. We both became much more confidant. We trusted ourselves and we trusted each other. Amazing things began to happen. As my brain cued into the rhythm of Ivan’s walk, my gait began to normalize. When I stumbled, Ivan kept me afoot. He began alerting me before the symptoms of cardiac angina occurred and awoke me at night when I had cardiac arrhythmia. And, Ivan began to ‘think for himself” and “problem solve.” Even though he had not been trained to do so, Ivan blocked my steps so that we did not walk into the path of a car whose driver did not see us. He saved us both from being hit by that car. We began working together as a team.

Yes, we are a team. We look out for each other. I watch that he doesn’t eat milk carton caps or earrings; he keeps me from falling. With Ivan, my family can relax a bit and let him take over “watching Mom”. We go to the store alone, take classes, visit relatives. As a team with Ivan, I can go and do just about whatever I want to do. Ivan and I visit schools as a part of the Paws-To-Read program and were speakers for the United Way annual drive this fall.

Ivan is an integral part of our family. My well-being is confidently placed in his care, and I know that he will never let me down. Thanks to Helen, and Lori and Lynn and the entire Paws With A Cause organization, I have been able to leave that homebound, fearful lifestyle behind me and re-enter the world as a person who has something to give others.

With Ivan I can, not only, smell the roses. I imagine he and I could even plant a few.