Tag Archives: happy

Bonding that saves lives!

These stories are so lovely and magical. Reading this post is re-empowering me to get back to work with Callie, training for her therapy dog license so she can work with kids.

Original post:

Shelter Dogs and Special Needs Kids: A Match Made in Heaven

By: Vera Lawlor June 9, 2017

About Vera Follow Vera at @vtlawlor

Brook, a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, was sitting in a high-kill shelter in Arizona with just two days to live when she was rescued by Janice Wolfe, founder and CEO of Merlin’s KIDS. The nonprofit organization rescues, rehabilitates and trains shelter dogs to work as service dogs for children with autism and special needs, as well as to assist disabled veterans. After extensive training Brook returned Wolfe’s kindness by transforming the life of Julie, 21, who is developmentally delayed due to a premature birth.

Wolfe describes Brook as a “rock star,” a calm sweet dog with the perfect temperament for working as an emotional support service dog. Julie’s mom, Ellen, couldn’t agree more.

“Brook has given Julie a greater sense of confidence,” Ellen said. “They are always together and Brook definitely knows that it’s her responsibility to take care of Julie.”

Before being paired with Brook, Julie was afraid to go outside the house on her own. Now she and Brook take walks down the block or sit together in the yard. Julie has become more outgoing and enjoys speaking or singing in front of people.

“Brook has become an emotional support for all of us,” Ellen said. “I can’t believe that they almost put her to sleep. She is the love of our lives!”

Julie takes a selfie with Brook as he smothers her with kisses.

Another Merlin’s KIDS graduate, Willow, was rescued from a beach in Aruba where she ran with a feral pack. She was so scared that nobody could touch her. With patience and love her foster family won her love and trust. Now after completing the training program, the 40-pound sweet-natured cunucu dog is ready to join three other Merlin’s Kids service dogs in the Animal Adaptive Therapy program at the Calais School for special needs children in New Jersey. Willow is a cortisol detection dog trained to detect stress signals in students and to alert the counseling team so that they can intervene before a problem escalates. She will also work with students to learn the social, emotional and behavioral skills they need to succeed in life.

Willow and Brook are just two of the 1,300 dogs that have been rescued, rehabilitated and trained as service dogs by Wolfe, a canine behavior rehabilitation specialist and author of “SHH HAPPENS! Dog Behavior 101.” In addition to Rhodesian Ridgebacks, the nonprofit organization has rescued and rehabilitated Labrador mixes, pointer mixes and coonhound mixes to work as service dogs. The goal of the organization is to ensure that service dogs are available to families in need regardless of financial circumstances. To fulfill this mission it depends on financial donations and sponsorships.

Wolfe said that Merlin’s KIDS service dogs are highly trained and highly specialized. They can do anything from keeping a special needs child from wandering away to opening doors or picking up pencils for children with disabilities to alerting before the onset of a seizure. It’s important, the trainer said, to make sure that the dogs are physically capable of doing the jobs being asked of them and that they have the right temperament.

“I’m very careful when placing dogs with autistic children because these kids can have such erratic behavior and the dogs have to be able to handle that,” Wolfe said. “Service dogs who will be tethered to a child have to be really chill and calm”

When it comes to autistic children Wolfe’s dogs are trained to serve the individual child. For example, dogs are trained to help children who are overstimulated by interrupting behavior patterns, and they can prevent children from opening a door and running out into the street. Some children need deep pressure to fall asleep so Wolfe and her team train service dogs to lay across their laps at night.

“We have a lot of autistic kids who had never slept in their own beds until they got a service dog,” Wolfe said. In addition to donations and sponsors, Merlin’s Kids is always in need of volunteers and foster families.

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This beautiful article was first seen on the Care2 site and, please, do drop across to that Merlin Kids website.

Learning from Dogs

Again and again the power of our relationship with dogs is breathtakingly beautiful.

If I carried on writing about dogs and sharing articles with you for a thousand years, I still don’t think I would become immune to the joy and wonder of what dogs mean to us. (Luckily for your sake you won’t have to follow this blog for quite those many years!)

Turning to us, the measure of a compassionate and caring society is how it looks after those who, through circumstance and bad luck, are disadvantaged. While there are many in such a situation who are the wrong side of twenty-one there’s something especially important, critically so, in reaching out to help our youngsters.

So why this switch from dogs to disadvantaged young people?

Read on:

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Shelter Dogs and Special Needs Kids: A Match Made in Heaven

By: Vera Lawlor June 9, 2017

About Vera Follow…

View original post 698 more words

Twitter Becomes Tangible

If you read my previous post 6 Months In and Twitter Rocks, you know about the #cavpack and the two members who brought everyone together to help create memorials for a fellow dog mom.

For those who haven’t – a short recap of the relevant parts. There is a large contingent of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel owners on Twitter who now go by the “#cavpack.” This group of people – and “dogs” – is fantastic, extremely interactive, and has the feel of a group of close friends.

The two members of the #cavpack who started the memorial project for Harry go by @Holly46671665 and @BellaMCavalier. When Harry, a very special Cavalier, passed earlier this year, his mom was having a particularly hard time, and so Holly and Bella decided to collect donations for a memorial paw print, to sponsor a kennel for a year in his name, and to donate to a rescue. They also began collecting photographs of the #cavpack for a book.

Harry’s mom received everything a few weeks ago and was overwhelmed by all the love. I am sure it is still hard for her to come on to Twitter but, since receiving everything, she has been on a little bit more, able to talk to her friends and see their dogs in action on occasion.

The #cavpack also all got their chance to order a copy of the photo book, too. Callie’s arrived yesterday.

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First piece of mail and it’s international!
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“Mom, are there treats in that?”
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No treats, just the coolest book EVER!
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Dedicated to the sweetest handsome boy, Harry.
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It’s my pals! Ellie-Mae, Bailey, Lady, and Holly 😍
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Hey, that’s me!
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My friend Bella is on the same page💖. And there’s Mr. C!

Here’s the thing, I knew I would love and appreciate the #cavpack book, but I had no idea how much. As I sat on the sofa turning the pages and explaining to my wife about each dog, their personalities, my connection to them and their owner, I realized that this book meant the world to me too. And I really mean the world. Many of the Cavaliers are in the UK, at least one lives in Germany, some throughout Asia and plenty are spread across the US.

When I look through the book, I feel tangibly connected to these online friends whom I otherwise do not know. I couldn’t stop smiling after we finished the first time. I was transported to a place where we were all together. It was as though my Twitter pack came alive in my hands for a moment and for that, I am beyond grateful.

 

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Callie, me, and our magic traveling book ❤️ ❤️ ❤️  (Please excuse my lounge look!)

 

This is also the same group of people who responded with 30+ answers for me in under 10 minutes when I asked an important question about Callie. And they helped me figure out the solution.

I know, Holly, that you initially collected the photos for Harry’s mom, but you need to know just how much your work means to me and, quite likely, the rest of the #cavpack.

And just for good measure, a #TongueOutTuesday for Harry. Always remembered.

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#TongueOutTuesday demand Mandatory Health Testing and rid Bad Breeders!!! #RememberingHarry🌈  ❤️’ing the #cavpack

A Cavalier Vacation and a Chicken Bone

Ok, so you already know I have a bunch of Twitter friends called the #Cavpack, but I am also a member of several Cavalier-focused groups on Facebook. Who has two thumbs and is a dog nerd? This girl right here 😂.

In January, I first heard about the Wilburton Inn in Manchester, VT on Cavaliers of the Northeast. The Wilburton is owned by the Levis family; Melissa Levis has a Cav named Jetson who is the official Inn welcoming committee, as well as the inspiration for their various Cavalier-themed events throughout the year.

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The Mansion
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Melissa, Jetson, and b&t Cav at a slumber party

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wilburton Inn held a special Mother’s Day weekend event from which we just got back. I was so excited, I booked our stay back in March. There don’t seem to be any other Cavalier’s around here and I thought, what a fun way to spend Mother’s Day Weekend! My wife and I went down on Friday with Callie to have a night to ourselves and then my wonderful ex-husband drove our daughter down to meet us on Saturday to stay over the second night.

Callie got to meet other Cavaliers for the first time since we got her. Besides Jetson, there were two other Cavs there, Eloise and Clifford, and a lovely chocolate Lab named Fred. Callie has always been ok with other dogs, some she likes more than others, she tends to shy away from the overly excitable. When she met Jetson, it was love at first sight. She was immediately involved in cleaning his ears, giving kisses, following him around. Callie barely noticed the tiny poodle who was also there.

It was like that when she met Eloise and Clifford too. She recognized some kind of friend in them.We didn’t manage to get any pictures of Clifford, he arrived the second day. Callie was happy to greet Fred, the Labrador, as well, but not like she was to meet more Cavaliers.

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A faceful of Cavaliers! Eloise, Callie, Jetson.

Melissa led us on a lovely pack walk through historic areas of Manchester, VT. I watched as some cars slowed down to look at the cuteness, or heard people say, “aww.”

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Jess and I with Callie, Laurie with Eloise and Fred and Melissa with Jetson.

 

We tried, sometimes successfully, to get the dogs to pose for pictures.

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Tom with Fred and Eloise, Laurie with Jetson, Jess and me with Callie

 

The grounds of the Inn are amazing, huge sculpture pieces are scattered throughout, and, of course, your dog is welcome almost anywhere 😍.

Callie found the accommodations quite satisfying. She even prepped a #TongueOutTuesday photo while there. IMG_3121

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Callie’s big sister had a BLAST, too 

 

Brunch was fantastic, with complimentary “mom”mosas and amazing food. Plus a bacon mustache and goatee.

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It got a little exciting though, and not in a fun way, when another Cavalier mom behind me saw Jetson grab a chicken bone off the floor. She stood up and ran after him one way, I heard her and went the other way to corner him. Jetson had bitten and swallowed part of the bone and was choking on the joint.

Without thinking, because who wouldn’t immediately try to save a dog, I shoved him between my knees and felt down in his throat. I was able to pull the splintered bone out, so then I pushed both forefingers down either side of his throat, forcing him to gag up the rest of the joint. He was thoroughly unamused when I continued to push my fingers down to feel for any smaller splinters and to make sure he had gagged up the whole bone. Like any dog would, he left a few good bruises on my fingers from his teeth, but as soon as I stopped, he, like almost any Cavalier would, turned and started licking me.

In the midst of all the chaos, while someone found Melissa, I sat on the floor between the omelet station and the stack of plates and cuddled quietly with Jetson, a dog no one could stand to lose.

Thank goodness Eloise’s mom, Laurie (forgive me if I spell your name wrong) happened to see him grab the bone. Not only would it have been a horrible, tragic day, but Jetson is a huge part of what makes the Inn the experience it is. Every employee I met is as attached to him as Melissa – ok, maybe not AS much, but pretty darn close.

 

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She NEVER sleeps this hard in the car!

 

Callie slept the whole ride home and even woke up later than me yesterday – a first! It was obvious that it was a happy exhaustion though, she had so much fun, I don’t think her tail stopped wagging all weekend. Nothing could be better for me than seeing Callie enjoy herself like that, it was beautiful.

Melissa herself received a Mother’s Day treat, as she, Jetson, and the Inn were featured by the Boston Globe.

Thank you, Melissa, for the exceptional weekend, we will be back! For those of you nearby – the Howl-oween Weekend slumber party and costume contest is supposed to be OUTRAGEOUS fun. What are you doing in October?