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Who Rescues Cavaliers with Special Needs?

On Tuesday I wrote about the importance of last week’s focus on Puppy Awareness Week in the UK and this coming Saturday’s Puppy Mill Awareness Day. If you’d like to read that post, you can here.

My way of bringing awareness is through my writing and my blog. So, today I would like to highlight a couple who built their lives around rescuing older and special needs Cavaliers. I am overwhelmed by their story, not many people can take on the workload and the heartache that they do daily.

Peabody and Jason Johanson didn’t initially start out with the intention of rescuing special needs and elderly dogs, but, as Peabody said, “We just bought a one level house (for the older dogs) with 1/3 of an acre all because of the dogs. We concluded that this is how we were spending the rest of our lives, adopting senior and special needs Spaniels.”

Many people that get into rescue adjust or renovate their homes to fit the dogs’ needs, but it’s not often one gets a chance to purchase a home that happens to fit exactly what is required for their rescues.

Skoshi

It all started with Peabody’s first dog, Skoshi, a Cocker Spaniel rescue. Peabody said, “Her last year with us she developed an allergy to the yeast on her own skin and got MRSP (like MRSA but for dogs) several times because of it. We had to give her daily baths and wrap her in bandages three times a day.

My husband and I both realized that we had the patience to deal with dogs with special needs. When she got cancer, we traded sleeping on the floor with her for months.
We knew she was nearing the end and we started talking about what kind of dog we would want next since we knew we would want a dog right away.”

Peabody and Jason were active fundraisers for Old Dog Haven, an organization that has over 300 senior dogs in their care,

“They are all in final refuge foster homes and pay all medical bills. They find the un-adoptable seniors in the shelters and give them loving homes no matter if that is a year, a month, a week, or a day.”

The couple decided that they would rescue a younger Cavalier from Cavalier Rescue USA and then get an Old Dog Haven foster. But, life had other plans in store for them.

First came Mickey.

Mickey

“The day after our cocker died, Mickey popped up on the website. I just looked at him and knew he was my dog. He was 8 and deaf with two spinal conditions (SM/CM and altano-axil malformation where his C1 overrides his C2) as well as behavior issues. He was fostered by a mutual friend, and we set up to meet him right away.

We were smitten the first time we met and had another meetup and decided to adopt him. We were told he was not a typical Cavalier in that he did not love everyone. His owner, a single female, had passed and his spinal condition was never diagnosed until rescue, so he was in pain his whole life. While he is not the typical Cavalier he does love me, his mama, something fierce and is very much the typical Cavalier to me. Mickey is now 10 1/2 and has MVD as well and is in stage B1 with a grade 2 murmur. ”

Mickey was not comfortable around men, and Jason felt that lack of connection, so the couple contacted Cavalier Rescue USA again.

Then came Holly.

“Four months after getting Mickey, Holly came into our life. She was just turning 8 and was a breeder release, and sadly was in Congestive Heart Failure. They warned us that it would be hard to watch her decline, but we chose to take her anyway. We only had a year with Holly, but she brought such joy to our life. Because of Holly my husband and I decided to focus on taking in Cavaliers with heart issues and Syringomyelia which both she and Mickey suffer from. Holly passed just a month after her 9th birthday of complications from pneumonia due to her heart being too large.”

Next, Daisy.

Daisy

“She came from a woman who bought her from a breeder (breeder release) but couldn’t keep her as she did not have a fenced yard and Daisy was a runner. We didn’t expect to take her as she was only six with no real health issues but we fell in love with her right away. Daisy loves any and all people that she meets, in true Cavalier form. Daisy just turned 8 and knock on wood continues to be healthy.”

And the sweet Crissy.

Crissy

“Crissy was also from Cavalier Rescue USA. She was 10 with MVD. Her owner was going into hospice. She is a total love and the perfect mix of sweet and sass. She is now 11 1/2 and has sadly progressed to a B2 stage with a 4/5 murmur and has started medication. We focus on enjoying each day with her that we have left.”

An English Toy Spaniel Rescue, Georgia.

Georgia

“Georgia came to us from a place called Panda Paws Rescue they are out of southern Washington state. They specialize in special needs breeds of all types. A friend who followed them had tagged me in a post about a couple of English Toy Spaniels they had. One of them had Syringomyelia, and they were looking for someone familiar with the condition. I talked to a friend that also had English Toys’s, and we decided to go for it. Georgia was a breeder release (once they knew she had SM they decided to let her go) and was very well socialized; she fit in immediately.”

And the most recent addition, Tulip.

“This last March the same rescue, Panda Paws raised money and went to a puppy mill auction in Missouri to rescue as many as they could. They had a few English Toy’s, and so I just said that if no one showed interested in the extremely shy ET that we would take her. Tulip had no inquiries and so after she had a month in foster care, where she was spayed, had a dental check, and had stenotic nares surgery, she came to us.
She was beyond shy when we got her. Typical puppy mill dog where she was fine with the other dogs but petrified of the humans.

Tulip

We have had her five months now, and she is making a lot of progress. She will sit on your lap and likes pets but will still run from you when go to pick her up. She does come to us but then runs away, but each day she gets a little more brave. Tulip is our youngest at age 2, and so we hope we have lots of time with her to watch her flourish into a trusting dog.”

Peabody couldn’t be happier with her pack of special needs dogs, and neither could Jason. “Both my husband and I are bleeding hearts, and so we just seem to keep collecting spaniels.”

But that’s ok, Peabody, because we need people like you!

 

 

Rescues that Appear When You Need Them – Winston and Nellie

Sometimes beginning the process of re-training a rescue dog can seem more work than one thinks possible, but the effort put in returns an incredible relationship bond between human and dog.

Yesterday I talked about why I want to highlight rescue dogs and their owners as well as rescue workers this week (if you missed it catch it here) and today I have two different stories to share.

Mom hugging Winston
Winston love with his favorite Aunt June!

Tammy rescued Winston shortly after she lost one of her first two Cavaliers to IMHA or Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia. IMHA is not uncommon in Cavaliers, according to Pet Health Network, “With primary IMHA, your dog’s immune system mistakenly produces antibodies that attack its own red blood cells. This is the most common cause of anemia in dogs. With secondary IMHA, the surface of your dog’s red blood cells is modified by an underlying disease process, drug, or toxin.”

IMHA can be fatal and have a fast onset. As Tammy said, “My girl Queenie with IMHA was diagnosed on a Saturday and had 3 blood transfusions when none of these helped her, we decided not to put her through anymore. She was 1 week shy of her 7th birthday. So she lived with it for only about a week to 10 days.”

Fidose of Reality has an excellent post on IMHA

But, as often seems to happen, while Queenie left a hole, another dog needed a home. Tammy said, “I saw where they saved five Cavs from a hoarding situation. So we decided we wanted to rescue one. He was seven and needed a lot of training, never walked up stairs, had people food, played in a yard, or received any pats or attention. He lived his seven years in a cage.”

“We brought Winston to an 8-week training class because he would bark at everyone and try to nip them. He now lets people pat him if we are outside walking. He still barks at people when they come to the house, so we have to put a leash on him and usually keep it on the whole time we have company. There are a few select people he likes to come over, people who have other Cav’s.”

Winston on couch
K.C. and Winston

Many people are grateful for their other Cavaliers showing rescues the way, and Tammy’s K.C. did this for Winston quite a bit. At first, Winston was a little skittish around K.C. but he has come to love other dogs.

Winston still doesn’t fit the mold of the “typical” Cavalier,

 

“He never allows us to touch him much, but now he enjoys being patted and he will sit on my husband for about 5-10 minutes then he gets off.

Winston
Smiling on Dad’s lap

 

He won’t really allow us to hug him or kiss him too much but we do it as much as we can. He does now know commands like sit, stay, down, sometimes come. So he is still a work in progress but he is getting there, we want to give him so much love but he tenses up. He never had pats for seven years of his life so this is still new to him.”

But he shows his love in other ways, “The best thing about my Winston is that he is very loyal to us and I know he is thankful to be in our home. He still has problems with strangers and trusting some people and it has been two years in our home, but he is realizing more and more that no one will ever hurt him again.”

 

Watching our rescue dogs realize that they are safe, home, forever, that has to be one of the best gifts they could give any one in return.

 

There’s a second story I want to tell today, and that’s about Nellie who was rescued by Judith.

Charlie jumping
Charlie Flying

Judith had just lost her first Cavalier, Charlie to Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) at nine and a half years old. He developed a heart murmur at six and was stable until age nine when his condition worsened during his last six months.

Judith said, “My first reaction was, no, I can’t, I’m just too heartbroken.

She said, I understand, but would you just go meet her?

Nellie couch
Nellie at home

And that’s how I got my Nellie. She was hyper, seriously anxious, and barked non-stop for the first 48 hours I had her home, and I wondered, how did I get into this? Nellie was a rescue from a puppy mill, who had been re-homed and then given up to the rescue.

She was two years old, and her foster mom told me she had been hand-shy, overweight and didn’t know how to play when she entered rescue. Nellie and I spent the first year together working on her barking, her anxiety, and her fear of other dogs.

Nellie at flyball
Nellie Flying

 

It’s been 4 years now, and she is super-cuddly and loving, greets all humans with joy, and loves to play tug, flyball, and go on long walks. (She’s still not crazy about other dogs but even this has improved. She’ll grumble but tolerate their existence.)”

All Judith knows about Nellie’s first home after the puppy mill is that, “Nellie was adopted by an older couple, after her first rescue. I was told that they gave her up to Quebec Rescue because they were unable to care for her anymore. I also suspect that they didn’t expect or know how to handle the behavior issues that can come from being rescued originally out of a bad situation.”

But whatever bad situation Nellie was in before, she’s a safe and happy girl now.

Nellie Costume

While neither Judith nor Tammy may have been planning on finding rescues to adopt, these two dogs landed in their laps at just the right time.

 

Meet Rescue and Therapy Dog Lucia

Dear readers and friends – I am sorry for the long silence,  my fibromyalgia got to me, then germs did, and I failed to write.

Thus far I have stuck to blogging about Callie and Charlie, but I would like to be talking more about the Cavalier rescue community in general. Such as the rescuers who go in and save the dogs, the owners who work so hard with their rescues, the health of our Cavalier’s, and, of course, the continued adventures of C & C.

Puppy Awareness Week in the UK just ended Saturday. Puppy Awareness Week, or PAW, is a campaign by the UK Kennel Club to ensure that puppies have long, healthy, happy lives with their owners. It is intended to raise awareness of puppy farms/mills and educate prospective owners as to how they might find a reputable breeder.

This coming Saturday, Sept. 16th, is Puppy Mill Awareness Day – #PuppyMillAwarenessDay. This is an initiative started by the National Mill Puppy Project to vigorously promote awareness of puppy mills and encourage the public to rescue rather than buy, or ensure they are buying from a reputable breeder.

I always emphasize rescuing because, well, until there aren’t any Cavaliers left to rescue I would rather spend the money a puppy costs on giving one a chance at a new healthy, happy life. And, although I hope it doesn’t, if that statement comes out judgmental, it isn’t meant to be. I have lots of friends with breeder-purchased puppies, and I would adore their dogs regardless.

In honor of all the puppy awareness and rescue awareness going on right now, this week I’m going to be highlighting a few dogs (erm, I mean people) who have rescued and, whether or not they intended to in the first place, wouldn’t change the experience for the world!

So today I want to highlight one impressive Cavalier rescue, Lucia and her mom Paula Stacey. In two years Lucia has gone from a puppy locked in a closet to a fully certified therapy dog.

Lucia as a puppy
When I was all alone

Lucia, or Lucy for short, was almost six months old before she found her forever home. Before that, she lived somewhere locked in a closet because she was “too much trouble.”

 

In August of 2015, Paula Stacey found out about Lucia and went to meet her. It was fate, as both fell in love with each other instantly.

Paula meeting Lucy
The day Lucy found her forever home.

Here’s what Paula Stacey had to say about the decision to train and the process of training Lucy to be a therapy dog.

“I had Lucy for about one month before I started training her. I originally started training her because I never had such a young puppy before and I wanted to be sure that I was raising her properly.
My previous dog Molly was over three years old when I got her, and she had a lot of issues such as freaking out when she had to be put in a Kennel at the vet or Groomers. She would actually make her paws bleed.

When I got Lucy, she still hadn’t been potty trained or didn’t know any commands. Most likely because she was barred up in a room all the time with nothing. That room was where she ate, drank & relieved herself.

So I signed Lucy up for beginners classes than we went on to intermediate classes than advanced. Lucy did so well, and I enjoyed taking classes with her. Many people had said she would be a good Therapy dog because she loved attention & people. So I thought to myself why not, let’s see what we need to do to become a Therapy dog.

We had to do more courses & pass the CGN Canadian Good Neighbour test before we could move on to more training. Lucy passed her CGN test & I was in tears when she did.
It took about 18 months of training before Lucia finally received her Therapy dog certificate.”

Lucia gets her diploma
Lucia and Paula Stacey with their new Therapy Dog diploma!

After many months of study, training and hard work they successfully achieved a Therapy Dog Certification, the certification for which requires: 1. CKC Canine Good Neighbour test 2. Full Medical Exam (complete health check, vaccinations, fecal test, parasite control) 3. Municipal Licensing 4. Handler Course (safety procedures, infection control, ethics, rules and regulations) 5. Dog Training Program (4-6 months) 6. Therapy Dog Testing  7. Exam Therapy Dog Manual – Vancouver ecoVillage Therapy Dog Certification.

“Lucia turned two years old March 6/17, so I think we have accomplished quite a bit in the two years.

Lucia and therapy dog vest
Lucia rockin’ her therapy dog vest!

She is so good with other people & does so well with children with autism and special needs. Lucy has been to 6 schools so far, to help relieve stress for students before exams. We also visit senior citizens who totally adore Lucy.

It makes me feel good to be able to bring comfort and joy to the people who need it… Training Lucy to be a therapy dog helps me to get out and volunteer.”

You can find out more about Lucia or follow her adventures on Facebook at http://facebook.com/luciamollikins or on Twitter @PaulaStacey72.

Back to Reality

Let me begin by apologizing for the radio silence – we’ve spent the last week moving and the previous one packing. And now I have the longest post – mostly about our new house!

Oh moving, how I hate you. Thankfully, this should be our last move for a few years! Jess and I have moved four times in 3 years…But now we have bought a lovely townhouse/condo in a great community, right where we want to be.
Jess took this past week off from work for moving in and, what we hoped, would be some relaxing time. I love when Jess is home during the day. Working from home can be incredibly lonely but, between the dogs and my fibromyalgia, getting out to co-working spaces is often difficult.
This was even better than the rare days she also works from home because neither of us did any work of that kind, we solely focused on our house and getting our animals situated.

Even with the stress of moving, it was a wonderful week. We spent time together shopping for a few things we needed/wanted to make the place feel like home right away.
We *read Jess* set up G’s new loft bed so when she arrived, she could spend time decorating her room. We haven’t had our own rooms since we sold the house in January, and OMG were we all desperate for space!

We had a few visitors come by, mid-mess but who cares? We love this place more each day we are here.

View of patio
Callie watching over her new yard

The unit we purchased has one of the more private patios, it looks into the woods, and we have a perfect area to let the dogs out.

 

So far we have been going out with them, but only Charlie seems to need the tie-out that we bought for each of them.

The tie out in the back yard confuses
Hoomans, what is this nonsense?!
Charlie runs towards us
Run Charlie RUN!

We also have a loop drive around the complex that is approximately a quarter of a mile which makes for a great walk with the dogs. It’s just long enough that Callie gets good exercise for her but still enjoys herself, even if we go twice in one day, plus if we go one way around, we end with a hill-climb which is perfect for Charlie’s patellas.
There are many dogs in the neighborhood, most of whom are friendly. Two Border Collies, Julien and Vincent, live in the next building over and often visit if we are outside. We were suckers the first time the first time they came and threw a stick for them a bit, and now they LOVE to come try to get us to play. Charlie is terrified of them even though they are super sweet and tend to ignore him as they are hyper-focused.
There is a six-month-old Lab-mix two doors over who is still frightening to Charlie – although he is starting to relax a bit, she’s sweet and relatively mellow – and then another puppy-mill rescue two doors down from there. The only dogs who aren’t nice are our neighboring dogs (of course!🤣)

I’m not really surprised, they are two older chihuahuas who have never been super friendly, and now they have gotten rather mean in their old age. I do feel older dogs have the right to be tired of politely interacting all the time, especially on their turf, but it is funny because they were fine with the two-year-old Cavalier who was living here with the tenants last year!

Charlie introduced himself to our neighbor on the other side by tipping over her beautiful succulents… thank goodness she has owned dogs her whole life – albeit not at the moment – and loved meeting him so much, she didn’t care about her plants!

Knocking over plants
What plants? I didn’t knock those over earlier!

 

The new condo has stairs, and both bedrooms are up there. I don’t think I’ve talked about it in a long time, but at the old place we lived on the second floor, and Callie was scared of stairs at first, so we started a terrible habit – we carried her down. For six months we ended up carrying Callie down those damn stairs every time we needed to take her out. Jess and I made the decision, having seen Callie learn to go down shorter sets of steps just fine, that we were not going to pick her up to carry her downstairs at all. Callie was SO mad.
The very first morning, I laid down treats, shut all the upstairs doors, and took Charlie out. I came back in, and she was still at the top of the stairs. So I made breakfast. Callie is a food driven dog, but she was still at the top of the stairs. So I went up and helped *perhaps read forced* her to walk down them. She wouldn’t eat many of the treats as she went and I felt it was only fair she still get them for all the work, so she was greeted at the bottom of the stairs with breakfast AND a rather large pile of training treats. That made her forgive me a bit.
Slowly, using this method but “helping” less and less, over Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday she got better.
Regardless of whether I helped her with any stairs, she did want me a few steps down at all times. Her left side seems to slip a bit, so it goes faster than her right. Anyway, Friday came, and the kiddo showed up. Callie went wild, almost everything was ok again in her world except she hadn’t seen G here yet.

The kiddo and Big C cuddle on the couch
Besties Furever!

I mean, look, the girl is Callie’s BESTIE! Well, once G went down the stairs Callie forgot all her fear in her need to be with her girl, and now the stairs are no problem for this lady.

 

 

Now, it’s back to life, back to reality. Monday morning went back to the same old routine, and Jess left for work at 7. Then I sat in what is my usual silence. Except it was so much lonelier. It always is when Jess has been home for a day or two, but this silence has made everyone mopey.

Callie just discovered something magical! She can get away from Charlie and keep him from stealing her bones by taking them out on the patio. 😁 Smart girl!

Callie and goat horn
Look, mom, I CAN get away from the little turd!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you if you have read this far 😆! And the next post should be coming soon! I have many updates on Charlie and his health!!!

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…

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