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November/December 2015

a lifestyle magazine for dog lovers

www.unleashedmi.com Vol. 4, No. 2

f ree!

PUPS WITH A PURPOSE • Raising PAWS puppies • Service vs. therapy dogs

• Indy-pendent: A boy and his dog


2 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2015


Kim Wood (Advertising Consultant) is a former high school and college instructor and a lifelong freelance writer. She is the Executive Director of K-9 Care Crew of the Lakeshore and a certified Tester/Observer for Therapy Dogs Incorporated. She is owned by her registered therapy dog Hannah. Email her at kimwood1974@gmail.com

who we are Mary Ullmer (Managing Editor) has more than 30 years of experience in print and digital media. She currently is an associate editor with ESPN Internet Ventures and previously worked for the Grand Rapids Press, Chicago Tribune, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader and Muskegon Chronicle. Email her at mary.ullmer1@gmail.com

Publisher: 2U Ventures, LLC 8323 Cleveland St. W Coopersville, MI 49404 Managing Editor: Mary Ullmer mary.ullmer1@gmail.com Creative Director: Kevin Kyser kevin@kyserdesignwerks.com

Dogs Unleashed is a bi-monthly magazine especially for dog lovers. It is available free throughout West Michigan. It also can be purchased via mail-order subscription by sending a check for $24 for 1 year or $36 for 2 years to 2U Ventures LLC/ Dogs Unleashed, 8323 Cleveland St. W, Coopersville, MI, 49404

All material published in Dogs Unleashed is copyrighted © by 2U Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction of material presented in Dogs Unleashed is prohibited without written permission.

Cartoonist: Jonny Hawkins

CONTENTS

TO SUBSCRIBE To have Dogs Unleashed delivered to your home, send a check ($24 for 1-year subscription, $36 for 2 years) payable to: 2U Ventures, LLC/Dogs Unleashed 8323 Cleveland St. W Coopersville, MI 49404

on the cover

4 Canine Calendar 6 Fetch!

10 Paws-Ability 12 The Groom Room 14 Feature: Paws Puppies

Proudly printed in West Michigan by: Rogers Printing Inc. 3350 Main St., Ravenna, MI 49451 www.rogersprinting.net

Copy editing: Linda Odette

Jennifer Waters (Photographer), owns Grumpy Pups Pet Photography. She also is a freelance writer who credits her three boxers – the original “grumpy pups” for her love of working with animals. View her work at grumpypups.com or email her at grumpypups@gmail.com.

To advertise in Dogs Unleashed, contact dogsunleashedsales@gmail.com

Find us online! Facebook: facebook.com/ DogsUnleashedMagazine

Writing: Susan Harrison-Wolffis (A Dog Making A Difference), Paul R. Kopenkoskey (Service Dog Or Therapy Dog?), Linda Odette (Fetch), Kristie Swan (Paws-Ability), Melissa VerPlank (The Groom Room), Jennifer Waters (Puppies With A Purpose)

Kevin Kyser (Creative Director), owns Kyser Design Werks, a design, branding and marketing firm. Kevin and his wife Jody have four children, four cats and a 150-pound Lab/ Rottweiler/New Foundland mix named Gus. Email him at kevin@ kyserdesignwerks.com.

Advertising Consultant: Kim Wood dogsunleashedsales@gmail.com

Contents are for entertainment only. Publisher assumes no responsibility for the accuracy, safety or performance of information or products presented. The opinions presented are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or judgment of the publisher or advertisers.

contributors

16 Puppies Poster

21 Feature: Max & Indy

26 Feature: Service vs. Therapy Dogs 30 The Tail End

photo by Jennifer waters

Our toughest assignment yet: We spent time with puppies being raised for Paws With A Cause.

November/December 2015 Dogs Unleashed 3


CANINE CALENDAR

november

2

Paws 2 Remember, 6 p.m., Hospice of North Ottawa, 1061 S. Beacon, Suite 100, Grand Haven. A pet-loss grief support group presented by Clock Timeless Pets. Free. For information, call (231) 722-3721 or (616) 844-4200. Also Dec. 1.

3

Foster Puppy Raising Orientation, 6 p.m., Paws With A Cause, 4646 S. Division, Wayland. Orientations are a great way to learn about the Foster Puppy Program at Paws With A Cause. Talk to current raisers and ask questions of PAWS staff members. Attendance at one session is required prior to applying to become a foster puppy raiser. For information or to RSVP (required), contact Julie Thorington (800) 253-7297 or jthorington@ pawswithacause.org. Also Nov. 30 and Dec. 14.

5-8

West Michigan Harvest Cluster, AKC Dog Show, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake, Kalamazoo. Conformation, obedience trials and rally trials, open for all dog breeds. Cost is $5 per vehicle per day, or $15 for a 4-day pass. For more information, call Kevin Nieboer (616) 706-2314.

8

Day of the Dog, 3-5 p.m., Pleasant Park, 400 Pleasant SE, Grand Rapids. Taking a page from the Hindu tradition, dogs will be decorated with manna (flowers) and tikka (brightly colored paste on the forehead) and given food offerings as a sign of respect and. A Plesant Dog, Nature of the Dog and Shaggy Pines Dog Park will be decorating dogs and offering treats. The event also features adoptable pets from Kent County Animal Shelter. Dogs who do not play well with others can still receive manna, tikka and treats at the drive-up Yellow Dog stand, marked with a yellow dog cutout. This is a leashed event and food offerings will be for dogs only. To learn more, go to A Pleasant

Fetch

a subscription for yourself

To subscribe, complete this form and send along with your check ($24 for 1 year/6 issues or $36 for 2 years/12 issues) payable to: Dogs Unleashed/2U Ventures LLC 8323 Cleveland St. W Coopersville, MI 49404 Name: __________________________ Address: _________________________

Dog’s Facebook page or contact Jenn Gavin (616) 633-6323 or jenn@ apleasantdog.com.

10

Toddler Tails, 10-10:45 a.m., Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077 Wilson Drive NW, Grand Rapids. Designed for ages 2-4 and includes stories, activities, crafts and animal interactions. Cost is $5 per family. Contact Jen Self-Aulgur (616) 7918066 or jaulgur@hswestmi.org. Also Oct. 13.

16

Paws 2 Remember, 6 p.m., Scolnik Healing Center, 888 Terrace St., Muskegon. Pet-loss grief support group presented by Clock Timeless Pets. Free. For information, call (231) 722-3721 or (616) 844-4200. Also Dec. 21.

18

Pet Photos With Santa, 6-8 p.m., Must Love Dogs, 211 Washington, Grand Haven. Get your pet’s photo taken with Santa Claus in time for the holidays. Proceeds benefit Love, Hope, Believe Galgo Rescue.

Tun-Dra® Kennels FOR MORE THAN 50 YEARS

When you can’t bring your dog, BRING YOUR DOG TO US! Why Tun-Dra? * Family owned and operated since 1964. * Owners live on-site and deliver personal hands-on care for each pet. * Beautiful and serene country setting. * Spacious indoor/outdoor kennels for every dog.

______________________________ City:___________State:____Zip_______ Email: __________________________

Subscribe Today! 4 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2015

(616) 837-9726

16438 96th Ave Nunica, MI


28

Santa Paws, noon-3 p.m., Shelby’s Place Thrift Store, 12360 Felch, Holland. Pet pictures with Santa – all pets are welcome and exotic pets are encouraged. The event to benefit Harbor Humane Society asks for a minimum $5 donation for your pet’s photo with Santa. Contact volunteers@harborhumane.org. Also Dec. 5, 12 and 19.

december

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Holiday Open House, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Muskegon Humane Society, 2640 Marquette, Muskegon. Adoption specials, meetand-greet, refreshments and more. Contact MHS (231) 773-8689.

5

Bellwether Harbor Holiday Open House, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Bellwether Harbor Animal Shelter & Training Center, 7645 W. 48th St., Fremont. Pet photos with Santa, Bellwether Wishing Tree, items from Bellwether Boutique, gourmet bake sale for people and pets, raffle

and more. Call (231) 924-9230 or go to bellwetherharbor.org.

Aulgur (616) 791-8066 or jaulgur@ hswestmi.org.

5-6

Holiday Adoption Days, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077 Wilson Drive NW, Grand Rapids. Stop by HSWM and give an animal in need the best gift ever: A forever home. Event includes reduced adoption fees as well as activities. For questions, email adoptions@hswestmi.org or call (616) 453-8900.

6

Circle of Trees, 5 p.m., Walker Park in North Muskegon. A dog walk/parade in the city of North Muskegon, sponsored by Clock Funeral Home’s Timeless Pets. Free. For information, call (231) 722-3721 or (616) 844-4200.

18

Furry Friday Films, 5:309:30 p.m., Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077 Wilson Drive NW, Grand Rapids. Kids in grades K-5 are invited to join HSWM for animal time, games, crafts and an animal movie. Pizza, pop and popcorn provided. Cost is $25 per child with a $10 sibling discount. Contact Jen Self-

28-30

Winter Mini Camp, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077 Wilson Drive NW, Grand Rapids. Kids in kindergarten through fifth grade are invited to join HSWM for a 3-day mini camp with the animals. Camp includes fun presentations, activities and interaction with the animals at the humane society. For information, including cost and registration, contact Jen Self-Aulgur (616) 791-8066 or jaulgur@hswestmi.org.

31

Animal Adventure Day, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077 Wilson Drive NW, Grand Rapids. Children in grades 6-8 are invited to hang out with HSWM animals, enjoy activities and explore what humane society workers and volunteers do. For information, including cost and registration, contact Jen Self-Aulgur (616) 791-8066 or jaulgur@hswestmi.org.

ALL BREED PET GROOMING INCLUDING CATS.

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616-935-7551

WALK I N NAI L TRIMS WELCOME $5.00. November/December 2015 Dogs Unleashed 5


FETCH!

PRODUCTS FOR YOUR POOCH

S

tumped on what to give the dog lover in your life for the holidays? Consider dog treats, toys or accessories. Or how about a gift certificate for boarding or walking a dog or a full dog grooming session? Check out the advertisements in this issue and you’ll find local businesses willing and able to help you find just the right gift.

Save this date What it is: A 12-month desktop calendar from Grumpy Pups Pet Photography owner Jennifer Waters. The calendar features beautiful images of dogs from West Michigan and is the perfect size to keep handy at your desk. But wait, there’s more: Want awesome photos of your own dog? Book a photo session with Grumpy Pups, based in Grand Rapids. Who knows? Maybe your dog will end up on the 2017 calendar. Fetch it: Order the 2016 calendar for $15 at grumpypups.com/store.

Visit us soon to find that special gift for your pet or the pet lover on your list. The Bird House offers a wide variety of unique pet treats, toys, accessories and high quality pet foods.

1915 Lake Avenue North Muskegon, MI 49445 231.719.2473

Where wild bird and pet lovers shop! 6 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2015


Stocking stuff What it is: Minty Fresh Z-Bones are a dental chew that freshens your dog’s breath and helps keep gums healthy. But wait, there’s more: Minty Fresh Z-Bones are the perfect stocking stuffer for dogs because they come in individually wrapped packages. Fetch it: Made by Zuke’s, the bones are $2.99 each while supplies last at major retailers.

Not the real thing

Ho, ho, hound

What it is: It looks like a pop can for humans, but it’s a rubber toy in which you can put peanut butter, kibble or other treats for your pup.

What it is: You may not realize it, but dogs feel sad at Christmas when they see everyone dressed up in their finest and they aren’t. Solve the problem by getting your four­-legged friend a hat and scarf set for the holiday.

But wait, there’s more: It’s nontoxic and biodegradable, and comes in three sizes and colors (red, green and purple).

But wait, there’s more: It comes in three sizes and has ear holes, a tie under the chin and a band on one end so it goes on easily.

Fetch it: Must Love Dogs Boutique and Spa, 211 Washington Ave., Grand Haven, sells the cans for $11.99 to $19.99.

Fetch it: Go to poochieheaven.com and buy it for $27.99.

Pets Agree. Pet-Agree is more than just dog walking and pet sitting Only the best for your best friend! West Michigan Spay & Neuter Clinic

6130 Airline Road Fruitport, MI 49415 www.wmspayandneuter.org info@wmspayandneuter.org

211 Washington Ave Grand Haven, MI 49417 (616) 935- 9588

Your Pets’ Personal Assistant! Call 616-633-9902

Phone 616-935-9588

Email: info@mustlovedogsonline.com 211 Washington Ave

Grand Haven, MI 49417

Email info@mustlovedogsonline.com

grandrapidspetagree.com November/December 2015 Dogs Unleashed 7


FETCH!

PRODUCTS FOR YOUR POOCH

What’s that smell? What it is: The holiday soiree will go quiet and partygoers will step aside when you arrive with your dog wearing Petite Amande Dog Fragrance. And if they ask what it’s made with, you can impress them by saying delicate notes of French blackcurrant, Tunisian neroli, mimosa and violet leaf with a base of sweet vanilla bourbon and almond. But wait, there’s more: Humans can wear it, too, and when you’re told “you smell like a dog,” it will be a good thing. Fetch it: A 1.7-ounce bottle for your favorite pet will set you back $78.50. If that’s too steep, you can get the Petite Amande Dog Shampoo in a 16.9-ounce bottle for just $41. Go to us.mungoandmaud.com.

A howling laugh a day What it is: The Dog Cartoon-A-Day calendar features a year’s worth of canine comedy from Michigan cartoonist Jonny Hawkins. There’s a chuckle every day as Hawkins offers his unique outlook on life with man’s best friend. But wait, there’s more: For a look at some of Hawkins’ funny dog cartoons, check out our Tail End on page 30. Fetch it: The calendar is available at amazon.com for just $8.24 plus shipping.

Serving Muskegon and Ottawa counties Helping Pet Parents Understand Pet Cremation & Burial Plans Also offering

Pet Loss Grief Support

Jodi M. Clock, owner/president Clocktimelesspets.com 1469 Peck Street • Muskegon, MI 49441 (231) 722-3721 8 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2015

Two great locations for all your grooming needs! 1107 Washington Ave Grand Haven, MI 49417 616.850.0035 $5 nail trims every Thursday

1891 Lakeshore Drive Muskegon, MI 49441 231.759.2156 $5 nail trims every Monday

www.SittingPrettyPetSpa.com


A funny work of art What it is: A Dog Named Jimmy will be hard to miss in book stores at Christmas time. After a divorce left him with no furniture in his apartment, Rafael Mantesso started drawing interesting pictures on his empty white walls, all incorporating his bull terrier, Jimmy Choo. But wait, there’s more: Jimmy Choo, the fashion icon, collaborated with Jimmy Choo, the dog, on a line of accessories for humans and dogs. Included are an iPhone case, handbags, wallets and even a leather and gold studded dog collar. Warning: They carry a Jimmy Choo-like price tag: $75 for the case, $395 for the collar and $595 for the wallet featuring the lovable dog. Fetch it: Look for it at bookstores or on amazon.com for $19.95.

Treats like grandma makes What it is: Molly’s Morsels are homemade, gluten-free and a little white-haired great-grandmother from Wayland makes them with her friends. Creations include Casey’s Chicken Rewards, Muddy Paws, Energy Barks and apple cheddar muffins. But wait, there’s more: Just as their owners have trouble with gluten, so can dogs. Some of the health issues it causes include skin problems, a poor appetite, diarrhea and vomiting. Fetch it: The treats are $12.60 for a 25-piece variety bag. The company also will have special gluten-free holiday bones available. Go online to order at mollysmorsels.com.

They may be furry and fuzzy and walk on four legs, but we know they’re not just pets. They’re friends, faithful companions - FAMILY members. Henry & Rumble was founded on this passion for animals and the desire to incorporate them into every aspect of our lives. Henry & Rumble carries everything you need to treat your dog or cat like the family member it is. Come visit us and see why we are the fastest growing store in West Michigan!

www.henryandrumble.com 2939 Wilson, Grandville MI (616) 261-1366 November/December 2015 Dogs Unleashed 9


PAWS-ABILITY

KRISTIE SWAN

‘Teachable moments’ start with paying attention By now most people are aware that multitasking is counter-productive to accuracy. Studies have shown that not only are we not good at multitasking, it actually causes a loss in brain matter. Even so, there are people who will tell you they are good at it. In reality, they likely are better at rapidly shifting focus from one task to the next. Regardless, it’s pretty safe to say that if you want maximum results, give a task your full focus. When it comes to personal interaction, multitasking isn’t appreciated. Texting at the dinner table

is usually frowned upon. Most romantic dinners don’t include Kindle reading. Watching a sporting event on your tablet during your kid’s big recital may make it more enjoyable for you but, still, not appropriate. Important tasks are best served with undivided attention. Training your dog is no exception. If you expect your dog to be attentive to you, be attentive to your dog. A common question trainers get is, “How often should I train?” Let’s substitute the word teach for train. Maybe you’ve heard someone say, “I turned it into a teachable moment.” Interactions with your pup, from the moment he enters your family, are all teachable moments. That can sound a bit daunting, as if every moment you are supposed to be “on.” Ideally that would be the case, but who lives like that? What you can do is be mindful in

Training your dog is no exception. If you expect your dog to be attentive to you, be attentive to your dog. your interactions. Think about what is happening between you and your dog in that moment — not only the goal of the moment, but what is being learned. Know that some dogs are extremely good at taking notes; they will remember what works for them. If you excuse jumping around as acceptable because your pup is excited to go for a walk and continue through the process, nothing is learned. That excitable behavior continues into the next part of the walk and now pup is jumping on a neighbor or chasing a squirrel.

Now Enrolling for P.R.E.P School Puppy & Rescue Enrichment Program Training That Fits Your Busy Schedule

P.R.E.P. School Course Work Includes:   

Four Week Program  Behavior Focused Training Meal Time Manners  Weekly Progress Reports Proper Play Etiquette  Discount on Six Week Class  Evaluation and Transfer included

(616) 575-5660

WhiskersUniversity.com

Whiskers University -Building success at both ends of the leash 10 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2015


If the goal is enjoyable, calm walks, the tone should be set the moment the leash comes out. Be clear with yourself on how to move through the steps. Take time to teach your dog to calmly wear the leash. You may need to put it on and take it off several times. Put it on and go about indoor business, allowing your dog to drag the leash for a bit. When your dog is able to wear the leash without exaggerated antics, you are ready to move forward. The point here is not to write a specific recipe for each behavior. Rather, it is to encourage thoughtfulness in training. Take the time to achieve success at intervals. Make sure your dog knows what you are asking before moving forward. Ask for full attention by giving it. Those “teachable moments” are part of everyday life. Make them count.

a lifestyle magazine for dog lovers

Kristie Swan, a certified professional dog trainer, is head trainer and manager at Whiskers University in Grand Rapids, Mich. Contact her at (616) 575-5660 or kswan@ whiskersgr.com.

REACHING WEST MICHIGAN’S CANINE ENTHUSIASTS To advertise in Dogs Unleashed, contact dogsunleashedsales@gmail.com

THANK YOU WEST MICHIGAN FOR MAKING THE 3RD ANNUAL

BARK IN THE DARK ON OCTOBER 10, 2015

A SUCCESS!

OUR SHELTER ANIMALS ARE SO THANKFUL FOR THE SUPPORT AND WE CAN’T WAIT TO SHARE IN THIS EVENT WITH YOU IN 2016!

WE WANT TO EXPRESS OUR SINCERE GRATITUDE TO THE FOLLOWING SPONSORS:

A VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU TO ALL PARTICIPANTS, COMMITTEE MEMBERS, VOLUNTEERS, & DONORS FOR ALL YOUR HARD WORK & SUPPORT!

THANK YOU TO OUR MEDIA PARTNERS: 3077 WILSON DR. NW GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49534

WWW.HSWESTMI.ORG

616.453.8900

November/December 2015 Dogs Unleashed 11


the groom room

melissa verplank

Turn grooming day into a spa day for your pooch For many of our furry friends, grooming is a fact of life. It does not matter whether you have a poodle in a highly stylized haircut or a Labrador retriever: If dogs are going to live in our homes, they need to be clean. Plus, regular grooming is important for a dog’s health and comfort. It can be done at home or at a professional salon. In either case, dogs that enjoy the grooming process are a dream to work on. Recently, I enjoyed a lavish day of spa treatments at the Hershey Hotel in Pennsylvania. My skin was washed, buffed and polished. The staff at the Hershey Spa did an excellent job preparing me as I went through each treatment. The entire process was enjoyable. When it comes to grooming your pets, you want their experience to be similar to a spa day. However, for many dogs, grooming is far from a pleasant experience. If their coats are in poor condition, there is no magic potion that can melt the mats and tangles away. Brushing tight tangles can be painful. Clipping off a severely matted coat can be stressful for many dogs. Depending on what dogs were exposed to early in life, some may have anxiety when it comes to strangers, accepting limitations, water, dryers, clippers or any of the experiences encountered while being groomed. Dogs do not have the ability to rationalize what the experience will be in the end. They live in the moment. They feed off of our personal energy — positive or negative. The key to getting your pet to look forward to the grooming process is to start introducing the pet to the practice well before it is actually needed. It takes time, patience and training to teach a dog to relax for grooming.

PHOTO: 123RF

When it’s done right, most dogs thoroughly appreciate the process. A few dogs will even fall asleep — just as I did for some of my spa treatments. If it’s done correctly, and on a regular basis, grooming should not be painful or uncomfortable for your pet. It should be soothing. Relaxing. Pleasant. What can you do to help prepare your dog if it has never been to a groomer? The biggest thing you can do is to start your puppy off early. If you don’t want to do the grooming yourself, let a professional grooming salon help you. As soon as a puppy has had all of its initial shots, it’s time to head to the groomer. Most grooming services offer some type of puppy introduction. It’s important to get the pup to the salon before a full grooming is required. That way, the dog can be introduced to the entire professional grooming process in a way that is fun and enjoyable. Not ready for a trip to the salon? Maybe you are planning on doing the grooming yourself. There’s plenty to do before you even think about

12 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2015

tackling the full job yourself. These six tips hold true for a young dog or a dog that is not accustomed to the grooming process.

1

Make sure you have the proper tools for your dog’s coat type. Talk with your breeder or pet professional to get the correct products and tools to groom your dog. If it’s a tool you aren’t familiar with, have them demonstrate how to use it correctly. When used right, tools designed for pet grooming are safe and gentle on the dog’s skin and coat. Used incorrectly, they can be dangerous.

2

If you are going to groom your dog at home, select a location. Many people find the top of their washer or dryer to be a great spot do the grooming. Others use a countertop or a table for their small- to medium-sized dog. Putting a towel or a rubber matt under your dog will help prevent it from sliding on slick surfaces. If your dog is larger, sit on the floor. Once in the designated area, set gentle rules and boundaries of acceptable behavior. Stick with them.


3

training methods. Clean, well-cared for dogs are a joy to be around. They smell good. Their coats feel amazing. Your house will stay a lot cleaner. There’s nothing better than living with a pet whose coat is well cared for. With the right mindset and training, your dog can enjoy a spa day any time you pick up a brush or pull into your favorite salon parking lot. All it takes is a little time and training.

Get your dog used to the brushing process. Use the correct brush for your dog’s coat type. When started young, and done gently, most dogs learn that brushing and combing can be very soothing. They will lay there for hours and let you brush. Think of it as a wonderful massage you would get at a spa. As a bonus, it’s also a great bonding process for dog and owner.

4

For any grooming process, whether you do it or a pro does it, your dog needs to allow its feet to be touched and held and its legs moved around for the grooming process. At home, handle and hold your dog’s feet. Play with its toes.

5

If a dog has facial hair, gently hold the hair to steady its head while you comb, brush and stroke all areas, including the muzzle, around the eyes, the top of the head and the ears.

6

Let your dog hear the sound of an electric clipper if you have one handy. Don’t try to use the clipper on the dog at first; just have it close so the dog can get

PHOTO: 123RF

used to the sound. The same thing can be done with a blow dryer. Let your dog hear it and feel the warm (not hot) air blow over its feet and legs. Most young dogs will object mildly to some of the grooming process. Whether it is at home or in a professional setting, it is important to have rules and limitations of acceptable behavior. The goal is to have a wellbehaved dog that enjoys the grooming process. To achieve that goal, you need to win the trust and cooperation of the dog through consistent and gentle

Melissa Verplank has more than 30 years of experience in the pet industry. She has won numerous national and international awards for her mastery of grooming and is author of the awardwinning books “Notes from the Grooming Table” and “Theory of Five.” She is the creator of Learn2GroomDogs.com, an online educational video library for pet grooming, and owns multiple West Michigan pet companies, including Paragon School of Pet Grooming and Whiskers Pet Resort and Spa.

You have a Choice... There is a Difference.

Give your pets the comfort they deserve. Pet Funeral Home • Cremation • Cemetery 24 Hour Emergency Services

616-538-6050 Trusted For Over 40 Years 2755 64th Street SW Byron Center, MI 49315 www.sleepyhollowpc.com

In-Home pet hospice, geriatric pet care, and euthanasia for companion animals. • Pain Management & Assessment • Nutrition Management • Medication Administration • Hospice/End of Life care • In-Home Euthanasia • Dr. Laurie Brush, DVM, member of IAAHPC

www.pethospicevet.com• (616) 498-1316 November/December 2015 Dogs Unleashed 13


feature

paws puppies

Puppies with a Purpose There’s more to becoming a Paws With A Cause dog than you might think story and PHOTOS BY JENNIFER WATERS

A

t eight weeks old, the puppy known as “Blue” — a Golden Retriever named for the bright blue string tied around his neck in place of a collar — weighed several pounds less than his littermates. He tumbled through the grass in his fenced-in backyard, still trying to nurse from the mom who had weaned him weeks ago, nipping and chasing after his bigger siblings. He hesitated on the steps, not sure if his little legs were long enough to catch him on the way down. He licked and sniffed and chewed his way around everything he could reach, learning more every waking minute about the world and his place in it. Blue’s job in this moment was simply to be a happy, playful puppy. Within days, though, that job would change. Blue was about to embark on a path that very few dogs get to take, one that would not only greatly impact his own life, but also the life of a family in desperate need of him.

At eight weeks old, Blue already was part of West Michigan’s Paws With A Cause program, and he was on his way to becoming a service dog. What is a service dog? Service dogs — or more generally, assistance dogs — are animals that help someone with a disability get through their daily tasks, making them more independent and fully functional. Whether pulling a wheelchair, opening doors, picking up dropped objects from the floor, alerting to seizures or providing a distraction for autistic children, assistance dogs provide valuable assistance — as well as companionship. They are the dogs we see in restaurants or shopping malls, sitting quietly under a table or guiding their handler through a crowd. Their familiar blue vests read, “Don’t Pet Me — I’m Working.” Many people have a hard time abiding by that rule when a dog appears in an unexpected location. While Paws With A Cause is not the only assistance dog organization in

14 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2015

the country, it is the most well known in West Michigan. Based in Wayland, PAWS has trained and placed more than 2,500 assistance dogs throughout the country. Around here, being a service dog is synonymous with being a “PAWS dog.” Yet despite the familiarity with the blue vests and “PAWS dog” name, there is so much we don’t know about these dogs. Where do the dogs come from? How did they get to be service dogs? What is life like for such a highly trained animal? Why can’t we pet them? We followed Blue through his first few months to learn more about the extraordinary path from puppy to PAWS dog. It all begins with a puppy Even before Blue was born, he was destined to become an assistance dog. His mom, Adel, a 4-year-old Golden Retriever, is a breeding dog for Paws With A Cause, meaning her puppies are specifically raised to enter the assistance dog training program. Adel lives with Scott and Renee Fles of Grand Rapids, who love and care for


Adel as their pet, with one catch: She doesn’t actually belong to them. Not yet. Adel came to the Fles home after the couple volunteered to be breeding hosts for Paws With A Cause. Scott and Renee were recovering from the death of their previous Golden Retriever when they decided the PAWS program might be right for them. As breeding hosts, Scott and Renee received Adel from PAWS, but they’re expected to give her puppies back to PAWS for training. This strategic breeding program — which also takes advantage of shelter dogs and donated puppies from outside the organization when possible — is designed to keep a steady stream of well-bred, healthy puppies available to meet the high demand for assistance dogs. There are more than 2,000 assistance dog requests each year. “Technically, right now, PAWS owns Adel,” Scott Fles said. “But as soon as she and I saw each other, we fell in love. She’s my pet, she’s my girl … with a very cool job on the side.” For Scott and Renee, that cool job is helping to provide future assistance dogs for someone with autism, epilepsy, hearing loss or a physical disability. While raising puppies can be hard work, there are benefits to Adel’s job, too. For as long as Adel is breeding puppies for

PAWS — another two to three years — her food and veterinary care are provided by Paws With a Cause. As a PAWS dog, Adel can accompany Scott and Renee to places most other people can’t bring their dogs. Once she is done breeding, PAWS will retire Adel to the Fles home and she’ll become their dog. For now, though, Adel is about to part ways with her puppy, Blue, and his littermates — Red, Green and White. She seems ready to get back to a quieter life, as are Scott and Renee. For the past eight weeks, their house has been turned upside down by this litter of puppies, who not only demand constant attention but also have a higher level of calling than most puppies. While life is mostly normal and playful for a PAWS puppy at this stage, there are some extra socialization and training demands thrown in for good measure. Scott may drop a spoon or a leash, typical items that an adult assistance dog might need to pick up from the floor, in front of them. It’s a good time for the puppies to get used to falling spoons, dangling keys, leashes of all types and sizes, and much more. “Once they go into the more extreme PAWS training, they’re going to be taught to put these leashes in their mouths, or to pick up the spoons for their clients, so we want to get them used

Scott Fles, of Grand Rapids, cuddles with Green on one of his last days at home before going to PAWS headquarters for service dog training.

Brody, previously Blue, dons his vest to go to work on a neighborhood walk.

to touching these things now,” Scott said. Still, most of the work of being a breeding host revolves around keeping the puppies safe and giving them lots of love. And knowing when it’s time to let them go. At eight weeks, the puppies are delivered to the PAWS national headquarters in Wayland, ready for their next journey. “A lot of people ask if we’re sad to see them go at eight weeks,” Scott said. “We know what they’re going for, which is an amazing cause. And (after eight weeks), I’m ready to get back to quiet and peace in the house.” Not everyone could give up a litter of puppies so easily, even for a good cause. That’s why Tom and Judy Cisler, of Grand Rapids, chose to be foster puppy raisers instead of breeding hosts. The two couples don’t know each other, but as soon as the Fles’ are done raising their puppies, the Cislers step in to take the next leg of the path to becoming a PAWS dog. One week after Blue is turned in to the PAWS national headquarters, he emerges as Brody, assigned to live with the Cislers for the next 16 months. Growing Up As A PAWS Dog As foster puppy raisers, Tom and

November/December 2015 Dogs Unleashed 15


Only time will tell the difference the

16 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2015


ese puppies will make in the world.

November/December 2015 Dogs Unleashed 17


Judy and Tom Cisler are Brody’s foster puppy raisers from 9 weeks old to about 18 months old.

Judy Cisler play another important role in the journey to becoming a PAWS dog. Brody is their third PAWS foster puppy since 2009. They met him for the first time at Puppy Pickup Day, when all the foster puppy raisers meet at the PAWS headquarters to receive and celebrate their new puppies — complete with plenty of tears, hugs and kisses. Brody was placed in their arms and will live with them until he reaches 18

months old. During that time, he’ll be loved and cared for, growing up as most puppies do — but with a little extra homework. Class generally starts the next day. For eight weeks, the new puppies and their foster raisers practice basic commands such as coming when their names are called, sit, down and bed. Then there are the walks. From the beginning, PAWS dogs are taught

want to get involved? The cost to breed or rescue, feed, train and place a Paws With A Cause assistance dog is more than $30,000. PAWS clients are not charged for their assistance dogs, so PAWS relies on financial donations and volunteers across the country. PAWS also accepts dog donations (both puppy and adult), with some requirements. Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Standard Poodles and Papillions are accepted. There always is a need for breeding hosts and foster puppy raisers. Breeding hosts need to live in Michigan, within two hours from Wayland. A dog will be provided to you, and PAWS will provide food and vet care during breeding times. Foster puppy raisers do not need any dog training experience and do not need to be home with the dog all day. There are restrictions on where you can live, so check the requirements before applying. To donate or to apply, or to learn more about who is eligible to receive an assistance dog, visit pawswithacause.org.

18 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2015

to walk a little differently than most, keeping their eyes on their handler at all times and ignoring distractions and the urge to pull off in a different direction. Puppies also are taught the command for “under,” which will come in handy when their future handler goes to a restaurant but doesn’t want a 70-pound Golden Retriever lying in the aisle. The dogs also learn what it means to wear the blue PAWS With A Cause vest. From the beginning, the dogs learn that it’s time to go to work when the vest goes on. No more playing with other dogs, no more distractions, no more petting from strangers. At least that’s how it’s supposed to go. One of the toughest bits of training the Cislers have to do isn’t directed toward Brody. It’s directed toward other people who see a dog in church or the grocery store or the doctor’s office, and want to run over and pet him. “Some people will ask if they can pet the dog, and sometimes they’ll get upset when we say no,” Judy said. “But that’s part of the training. We’re training people, too, on the difference between a service dog and a therapy dog.” As a service dog, Brody may


someday pull his handler’s wheelchair down the sidewalk, open doors for someone with muscular problems or pick up dropped items for an amputee. He may even activate a life-alert system if his handler is having a seizure, or act as a brace for someone who has fallen and needs help getting up. In all these cases, Brody’s attention needs to be fully on his handler, his teammate. Getting distracted while out working with a handler who needs him could be disastrous. That doesn’t mean PAWS dogs don’t enjoy a good petting as much as other dogs. They just don’t get it until the vest comes off. “They do just get to be puppies while they’re here,” Tom said. “People think they’re working all the time. But as long as he doesn’t have the vest on, he’s a regular dog.” Following the rules A regular dog with some restrictions. Growing up PAWS means Brody will never be allowed to get on the furniture, receive table scraps, run off-leash in an unfenced area, jump up

on visitors or sleep outside of his kennel at night. These are things most of us know we shouldn’t allow when it comes to our own dogs, but for a future PAWS dog, the rules must be strictly followed. Jumping up on a person with physical disabilities or drooling uncontrollably at a restaurant could disqualify a dog from being matched with a client. It is work to be a foster puppy raiser, but there are benefits, too. Because socialization is key for future PAWS dogs, the Cislers have both the responsibility and the privilege of bringing Brody with them wherever they go — shopping, out to eat, to church or traveling across the country. Exposing him now to all the things that a future handler might do keeps him from being surprised later on. “The nice thing is, we can take him everywhere,” Judy said. “So unlike your own pet that you need to leave home, our PAWS puppies have traveled to Seattle, Florida, Arizona, Texas. Wherever we go, they go.” “Some people think that the dog has a sad life, but the dogs have a fantastic life,” Tom said. “The dog can go places

Adel, a Paws With A Cause breeding dog, is a 4-year-old Golden Retriever who lives with Scott and Renee Fles.

that other dogs can’t. They’re always with someone. And they do have time for play, and they’re loved, and they do get to play with other dogs.” When we checked in on Brody at five months old, he was happily chasing

Volunteer

Raise a Puppy or Host a Mama Dog

To learn more, please visit our next PAWS® Dog Volunteer Orientation November 3 | 6 p.m. Other dates available Paws With A Cause 4646 South Division, Wayland, MI 49348 800-253-7297 | pawswithacause.org November/December 2015 Dogs Unleashed 19


Blue (foreground) and White take a water break after running around the Fles’ backyard.

fallen acorns on the deck, picking out his favorite toys from the toy basket and lounging on the dog bed that is too big for him now, but that will fit just right as he grows to an adult. He’ll enjoy another year with the Cislers before taking that next step on his path to PAWS certification. One year from now, the Cislers will receive a letter from Paws With A Cause, letting them know that Turn-In Day has arrived. Puppy Turn-In Day is the opposite of Puppy Pickup Day. It’s when the same group of foster puppy raisers meets once again at the Wayland headquarters to say goodbye to the dogs they have successfully ferried through puppyhood. While there is cause for celebration at all the dog has and will still achieve, there are plenty of tears, too. “A lot of people say, ‘I could never do that because I could never give the dog up,’ ” Tom said. “It’s hard, there are a lot of tears, a lot of hugs, and you know you’re not going to see your dog anymore. But it’s awfully satisfying when they get placed somewhere.” “We just realize there’s a bigger purpose,” Judy added. Making the cut At 18 months, Brody still will have work to do before becoming a certified Paws With A Cause assistance dog. Once

he leaves the Cislers and is returned to headquarters, he will undergo another four to six months of training and evaluation. His strengths and weaknesses will eventually determine what type of assistance he might be best at, including one or more of the following: • Service dog, which assists people with physical disabilities. • Hearing dog, for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. • Seizure response dog, for people with epilepsy or other seizure disorders. • Service dog for children with autism, for those 12 and younger who would benefit from a companion. Next, Brody will start the process of being matched up with a specific person. The training process for each person is customized based on his or her needs, and can take several more months. The initial training takes place at PAWS headquarters and the PAWS trainers will emulate the client’s movements and speech as much as possible while training. Brody could be around 2 years old when he finally goes to live with his new handler. For three to eight months after that, Brody and his handler will work together to become a team. He could be placed almost anywhere in the country — PAWS dogs are provided in 30 states — and the Cislers won’t know where he is placed until he is certified, at which

20 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2015

point the client can choose to reach out to them. When that happens, the Cislers will have a puppy photo album ready and waiting so that Brody’s handler can know where he came from and catch up on what was missed in his first two years. Tom and Judy always keep an album for themselves, too, reminding them of their previous “kids” who now are out working in the world. They’ve even had a chance to visit their first foster dog, Pogo, whose handler reached out to let them know about her career as an arson dog for State Farm Insurance in Iowa. Wait. Arson dog? PAWS provides detection dogs, too? Yes and no. The training and requirements to become a PAWS assistance dog are so demanding that not all the puppies make it through. But after so much investment in their breeding, upbringing, health and education, these dogs are highly trained and useful — in another field. Dogs who do not meet PAWS certification may be “career-changed,” and may become working dogs for police departments or the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, leader dogs for the blind, bomb- or drug-sniffing dogs, or workers for other service organizations. If a dog isn’t cleared medically for service work or just isn’t cut out for it, he has the chance to be adopted by his foster puppy raisers. And in the rare occasion that a dog isn’t picked up by his fosters, he can be available for adoption to the public. It’s a long and involved path for a little puppy with a blue string tied around his neck. Only time will tell the difference Brody will make in this world, but along the way, he has all the love and support he’ll need.

Adel’s most recent litter delivered four puppies: Red, Green, White and Blue.


feature

max & indy

A dog making a difference When Indy arrived to assist a young autistic boy, the Richter household was changed forever STORY BY SUSAN HARRISON-WOLFFIS PHOTOS BY JENNIFER WATERS

T

his is the story about a dog named Indy and his boy, Max. Before Indy came into his life, Max was lost in social settings. He didn’t always follow his parents’ instructions or even respond when they called his name. He didn’t make friends easily or react with the usual emotions called for when he — or anyone else — was sad or happy, tired, angry or hurt. Diagnosed with mild to moderate autism when he was 3, Max could disappear in a flash, out of his parents’ collective sight, sometimes climbing the shelves in grocery stores or diving beneath tables in restaurants or crawling under or over the pews at church. “Society gives you the stink eye when your kid acts like that,” Max’s

mom, Jamie Richter, said. “So many people just don’t understand. They think he’s being bad, but ... but he’s just being Max.” To say life was stressful for the Richters is an understatement. There was no such thing as a quick trip to the grocery store or a simple afternoon of running errands. Visits to the doctor and dentist or with family and friends were unpredictable. But a year ago, Max — now 8 — received the gift of a lifetime: a service dog, a dog named Indy, trained by the people at Paws With A Cause specifically for children with autism. A 70-pound Golden Retriever with fur as soft as clouds and eyes that see straight through to a child’s soul, Indy is nothing short of a miracle in Max’s life — and his family’s. The Richters heard about service

dogs for children with autism and applied to Paws With a Cause, but they feared Max’s disability wasn’t severe enough for them to qualify. As it turns out, they were perfect candidates, chosen by the folks from PAWS to receive a dog at no charge to them, although it cost about $30,000 to breed, raise and train Indy. “I think God totally placed this dog in our lives,” Jamie Richter said. Life-changing dog In December 2014, she and her husband, Steve, received special training with a group of parents with autistic children, while the trainers at Paws With A Cause matched dogs with kids. The trainers chose Indy for Max, in part because the dog’s unflappable, laid-back manner was a perfect counterpart to the whirlwind of a boy.

November/December 2015 Dogs Unleashed 21


feature

max & indy

When Indy isn’t wearing his blue vest in public, he’s doing “regular” dog activities, like playing in the backyard with Max.

“Indy has changed our lives,” Jamie Richter said, her voice choked with equal parts emotion and gratitude. “We can finally do things that ‘normal’ families do.” Like go to church on Sundays and make it through an entire service. Like go to the store and finish getting everything on the list without Max melting down, causing a fuss or ignoring them. All thanks to Indy’s steady influence and gentle presence. Indy’s “job” is highly specialized. He doesn’t open doors or lead Max to his classroom or even accompany him to school. He doesn’t fetch medicine or carry books, answer the door or alert someone that the telephone is ringing, like other service and assistance dogs are trained to do. As a Service Dog for Children With Autism, Indy acts as a canine “bridge” between Max and the rest of the world. His presence opens conversations

“Indy has changed our lives, we can finally do things that ‘normal’ families do.” — Jamie Richter between people who want to know more about him. He gives Max a sense of responsibility and self-esteem — and refuge. Max’s parents find their boy cuddled up next to Indy when he can’t express his emotions. The dog takes it all in, his friend for life, as a good dog always does. At times, Indy’s role is subtle: a nudge of a nose in a boy’s hand; a dog sitting on the porch waiting for Max to get off the school bus; a good dog who doesn’t react when Max’s touch is rougher than it should be. At other times, Indy’s role is big enough for everyone to see. Now when Max goes to the store

22 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2015

with his mom and dad, he has a job to fulfill, a focus for all that energy of his. He holds Indy’s leash. So do his parents, who have control of the lead. Instead of Max going his own way or not following instructions, he has a dog who needs him. “It makes all the difference. You can’t believe it. We don’t have to say ‘no’ to Max all the time,” Steve Richter said. To understand the hows and whys, and the unending challenges of living with a child with special needs, you need to meet the rest of Max’s family. There are the mom and dad: Steve Richter, 37, a clean water plant operator for the North Kent Sewer Authority, and Jamie Richter, 33, an operating room assistant who works part-time at Butterworth Surgery. Then there are Max’s older brother, Josh, 11, and younger sister, Emma, 5. Together, they live in a comfortable house on a street with plenty of sidewalks, front porches and backyards


to play in, near the middle school, in Comstock Park. The day we met up with the Richters, it was barely contained chaos. Max was in constant motion, climbing up a doorway, running at top speed through the house, ignoring his parents who asked him — every minute or so — to calm down. “He’s having a bad day,” Jamie Richter apologized. “I don’t know why.” “Dude,” Steve Richter whispered to Max over and over, an entire sentence wrapped into one word. Josh was almost in tears, upset about something Max had done earlier in the day — breaking one of his games. Emma was intent on getting out her toys, even though the living room had been picked up for company. In the middle of it all, Indy was an oasis of calm, lying at the feet of Steve Richter, who absent-mindedly rubbed the dog’s ears and head when his requests for Max to stop climbing in the doorway were ignored. “Max,” his dad finally said, “your dog needs you.”

Almost immediately, Max left his perch and knelt by Indy. He stroked Indy’s side and was rewarded with the thump of a tail and a telling sigh. For a minute, Max calmed down. He joined the family, not in conversation, but in company. “Without that dog,” Jamie started to say. “I don’t know what we’d do,” Steve finished. Socially speaking As a toddler, Max was slow to crawl, to bond, to talk. His parents took him to doctor after doctor to find out why. But as Jamie Richter put it, at the time she didn’t understand or recognize the “pieces of the puzzle” of autism — a serious neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs a child’s ability to communicate and interact with others. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one in 68 American children is autistic. Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that it ranges from mild symptoms to severe disabilities. Max

At times, the role Indy plays in the Richter household is subtle. His job often is to simply be there for Max.

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max & indy

courtesy photo jamie Richter

Max’s parents, Jamie and Steve Richter, often find their 8-year-old son cuddled up next to Indy.

Indy makes simple tasks, like having Max in a grocery store, possible for the Richters.

falls someplace in the middle of the spectrum, a child who struggles with anxiety and making friends, yet has good verbal skills. He gets lost in his own world, ignoring people and what’s going on around him. But now, Max has Indy, who connects him to the rest of the world and teaches him how to bond with others. One of the Richters’ favorite examples of how Indy works his everyday miracles with Max happened at the dentist’s office. Soon after they got Indy, Max had to have his teeth cleaned. Max was playing with some toys, unaware there were others in the room. Indy was lying near him. A little girl — drawn to Indy, who wears a vest identifying him as a service dog — asked if she could pet the dog.

24 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2015

“I always thought it would be harder with a dog, but Indy is amazing.” — Steve Richter Max’s mom said to check with Max, because Indy is his dog. It took Max a few minutes, but eventually, he said yes, she could. One thing led to another, and a conversation started between the children, all because of Indy. “The conversation was one-word sentences,” Jamie Richter said, “but Max was like other kids for a minute. I still get goose bumps talking about it.” The people at Paws With A Cause estimate that Indy will be able to work for a good 10 years, assisting Max until he’s out of high school. Because he’s a


PAWS WITH A CAUSE Address: Paws With a Cause, 4646 Division Ave. S., Wayland, MI 49348 Phone: (616) 877-7297 Website: pawswithacause.org Founded: 1979 Placed: 2,600 assistance and service dogs since 1979 Requests: The organization receives roughly 2,000 requests for dogs each year. courtesy photo Josh Richter

Indy, posing with Max, Jamie and Steve Richter, is an integral part of the family.

family pet when he’s not at work, Indy, who is 2, will stay with the Richters even in retirement, they said. “I always thought it would be harder with a dog, but Indy is amazing,” Steve Richter said. He and his wife sat for a moment, seeking the right words, trying to explain the difference one dog — one very special dog — can make in a boy’s life. “Max didn’t have any friends, and now, he has a best friend,” Jamie Richter said. “Every time they see each other, it is a beautiful reunion, an incredible friendship.”

Cost to breed, raise and train: $30,000 for each dog Cost to families: Zero. Families receiving PAWS dogs are asked to “pay it forward” to future recipients and help with fund-raising. Video: To learn more about Paws With A Cause and the service dogs that change people’s lives, check out the “You Needed Me” video at youtube.com. Max and Indy: To learn more about Max and Indy, visit pawswithacause.org/goosebumps

November/December 2015 Dogs Unleashed 25


feature

service vs. therapy dogs

Service dog or therapy dog? There is a difference Chewy, a Flat Coated Retriever Mix, is a member of West Michigan Therapy Dogs and often visits the elderly and disabled. STORY BY PAUL R. KOPENKOSKEY PHOTOS BY JENNIFER WATERS

O

ne you can pet to your heart’s content, the other you should keep your hands off at all times. It’s a simple but important distinction that needs to be drawn between service dogs and therapy dogs, not only in the ways they help people and the purposes they serve, but also in how they’re trained. Service dogs such as the ones Wayland-based Paws With A Cause trains help people with disabilities complete everyday tasks that can include, but are not limited to, helping open doors, pulling a wheelchair or alerting people when the telephone rings or the smoke detector goes off. They also help people navigate through life. They assist people who have seizures, those who are deaf or hard of hearing, those with visual impairments or blindness.

Dogs selected for these tasks are breed specific. For instance, Paws With A Cause accepts Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Standard Poodles and Papillions. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires such canines to have access with their owners to nearly all public places such as restaurants, churches and grocery stores. People should never distract a service dog by petting or talking to it. “Assistance dogs are trained to mitigate a person’s disability with oneon-one training,” said Paws with A Cause community outreach manager Deb Davis. Therapy dogs, on the other hand, are hands-on. The dogs offer a calming presence for people, often through stroking their fur and talking to them. Their handlers own these dogs. Therapy dogs interact with people in assisted care facilities, nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, hospices and mental health care programs. Regionally, 350 dog-handler teams

26 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2015

and 420 dogs (some handlers own more than one canine) represent the allvolunteer organization West Michigan Therapy Dogs, Inc. These teams help patients and students who live in nine counties: Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Ionia, Montcalm, Newaygo, Ottawa, Allegan, Kent and Barry. West Michigan Therapy Dogs handles requests through its twopronged mission of making available trained canines in western Michigan

Part of Chewy’s job as a therapy dog is to provide comfort to people.


with Animal Assisted Activities (AAA) and Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT). AAA dogs’ mission is uncomplicated: enhance people’s lives. Trained canines do that by simply showing up and being a friendly reprieve. AAA dogs are the ones you may see interacting with patients in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and mental health facilities to give people an emotional boost. AAT canines help improve a patient’s social, emotional or cognitive abilities. People living in nursing homes, for example, find AAT dogs to be helpful in motivating them to be active mentally and physically, keeping their minds sharp and bodies healthy. Moreover, therapists who use such dogs are perceived by patients as less threatening, increasing the rapport between the patient and a therapist. The AAT side of WMTD includes traveling to facilities like those for Take this time long-term assisted care, rehabilitation to show your pets how much and nursing care, hospice, psychiatric you love and and mental health care. They’re also in appreciate 14

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Owner/handler Sandee Hermann (center) brings Chewy for a visit with Marjorie Peterson (left) and Wanda Northcutt (right).

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improve their reading skills and build confidence by reading to dogs. Therapy dogs are not breed specific, said Terrilynne Lymburner, WMTD’s director of education and training. The size and age of a therapy dog isn’t important, either. Those involved with

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feature

service vs. therapy dogs

West Michigan Therapy Dogs, Inc., seeks dogs that don’t overact and aren’t afraid to go into new environments.

WMTD range from 230-pound English mastiffs to 3-pound Yorkshire terriers, and vary in age from a year old to up to 14 years old. A dog’s temperament is a major determining factor for a therapy dog. “What we’re looking for is a dog that’s neutral, one that doesn’t

Chewy gets a little loving from Pat Harrington (foreground) and Lester Williams (background).

overact or isn’t scared to go into a new environment,” Lymburner said. “We do not restrict for breed or mix breed. We take great pride in that we are looking at serving the entire population of our communities. When a handler went to a school several years ago for the (Ruff Readers) program, the students never saw a Great Dane and they were a little nervous. Soon after, all they wanted to read to was the Great Dane.” WMTD trains and certifies both dogs and handlers, Lymburner said. Training is done in stages, starting with a pre-screen, then an eight-week pet therapy course that includes a test toward the end, three shadow visits as a probationary member and, if successful, a full member. And to ensure their therapy dogs interact nicely with other animals, WMTD’s training includes using a lifelike mechanical cat, rabbit and gerbil. All told, it can take one year to complete all the training steps, according to Lymburner. More training is required for AAT dogs because they need to learn

28 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2015

Service dog or Therapy dog? Service dog: The Americans with Disabilities Act defines service dogs as any guide dog, signal dog or other animal trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. Service dogs are not to be petted or otherwise distracted when working in public. Therapy dog: Therapy dogs provide psychological or physiological therapy to individuals other than their handlers. Typically, they visit institutions like hospitals, schools, hospices, psychotherapy offices, nursing homes and more. Therapy dogs are encouraged to socialize and interact with a people while they’re on duty.

additional commands and need to know how to properly behave around medical equipment and patients. “We want them to behave appropriately around medical


equipment, to be gentle around individuals, to not pull out an IV and to get used to the smells around medical equipment or beeping noises so the dog isn’t startled,” Lymburner said. “If they’re visiting a hospital, we don’t want them to jump on someone who’s had knee surgery. Our dogs are taught to be around a wheelchair or a walker so they don’t knock the walker down. We don’t want them to interfere with someone’s balance, but to sit near the walker or wheelchair.” Sandee Hermann, a certified team member of WMTD, visits the elderly and disabled with her Flat Coated Retriever mix, Chewy. “The people I visit had to give up their homes and pets to live in retirement homes and assisted facilities, so the fact that I can bring my dog in enhances their emotional lives,” Hermann said. “They seem to do better emotionally and it gives them a little change from their everyday lives. And for the disabled people, it gives them a chance to talk to an animal without feeling they have to do everything right.”

Michigan organizations n Paws With A Cause Addresses: 4646 Division Ave. S., Wayland (national headquarters) and 1328 Wheaton, Troy (Southeastern Michigan regional office) Website: pawswithacause.org Email: paws@pawswithacause.org n West Michigan Therapy Dogs Address: PO Box 2533, Grand Rapids, MI 49501-2533 Website: wmtd.org Phone: (616) 726-1256

Temperament and time are key factors in becoming a therapy dog team, Hermann said. “Temperament plays a big role,” she said. “The team also needs to be able to dedicate a larger portion of time, because they may have to work with that specific client and their professional as much as several times a week since it is part of the client’s recovery program.”

Chewy and owner Sandee Hermann (far right) visit Bishop Hills for about an hour as part of their West Michigan Therapy Dog requirements. Residents like Phyllis Kruse (left) and Marjorie Peterson benefit from Chewy’s attention and love of petting.

Leash - License - Love your Dog! Michigan law requires all dogs be licensed. Licensing helps fund animal neglect and cruelty cases, and helps return lost pets home.

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accessKent.com/kcas November/December 2015 Dogs Unleashed 29


THE TAIL END

Jonny Hawkins

30 Dogs Unleashed November/December 2015


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Dogs Unleashed - Nov-Dec 2015