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Fidos Speaks Read more online at Vol. 17 No. 3 An information exchange serving clients, supporters and volunteers of Fidos For Freedom, Inc. Summer 2009

Congratulations to Graduating Assistance Dog Teams An Assistance Dog and Therapy Dog Training Organization

Inside this issue: Notes from the Board 2 Fulfilling A Child’s Wish 3 BARC 3 Training is a Snap 6 Coveted Cape 8-9 Service Dog to Service Dog 10 10th Ann. Golf Tournament 11

Classes Puppy Class Wednesdays: 7:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m. Open to the public; contact for more information Agility Class Wednesdays: 6:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m. Flyball Fridays: 7:00 p.m.– 8:00 p.m Basic Obedience Classes Contact for more details.

Upcoming Events 11th Annual Stroll ‘n Roll

Saturday, October 31, 2009 9:00am – 12:00pm Centennial Park, Ellicott City, MD It is the vision of this organization to improve the quality of life and provide companionship to the residents of our local community through specially trained Hearing Dogs, Service Dogs and Therapy Dogs.

By Tracy Bowman


hunder, lightning and rain couldn’t dampen spirits on April 25, 2009 at the Laurel Carriage House as we gathered for Fidos most cherished traditions – honoring clients who complete their probationary year and graduate from the Fidos Assistance Dog Program. This year’s graduates were: Denise Portis and Hearing Dog Chloe, Sandra Ball and Service Dog Quincy, Kay Scherr and Service Dog Eli, Margie Bates-Noe and Hearing Dog Ruby, and Wendy Hill-House and Hearing Dog Roy. Denise got interested in Fidos from a demo at her kids’ 4-H club. “I saw Jan and Jetta and was impressed with what a Hearing Dog could do,” recalls Denise. “I needed to become more independent – my teenagers will soon leave home and wouldn’t be there to alert me to important sounds.” Denise chuckled about training: “I knew absolutely ZERO, so I was a clean slate!” Denise learned to “read” her dog and recognize facial and body signals … seeing what catches Chloe’s attention is invaluable to locate sounds. But it wasn’t always easy. “I had to learn to listen, think, and talk to my dog at the same time, and that was really challenging on the rainy days when the weather throws off my balance,” Denise remarked. Denise confides that Chloe opened up her world. Before, Denise never went anywhere alone for fear of dropping things, falling or getting yelled at by people who didn’t know she couldn’t hear. “Now, with Chloe at my side, I am confident in my surroundings, I am rarely surprised by a sound, and Chloe loves to retrieve!” Denise has advice for new clients – ‘patience’: “The trainers want what is best for you – they watch to see how peoFidos Speaks

ple and dogs fit together. Every dog taught me something – your time is not wasted on the training floor. Let the trainers know if you need help – they want you to learn and succeed.” It is clear that Denise and Chloe have formed a very special partnership: “Chloe is just a happy camper. Her tail is in a constant state of ‘wag.’ She loves going to new places, and really loves to work – it isn’t even work because she has so much fun doing her thing!” Sandy began working at USDA after her accident, and it wasn’t long before her new supervisor told her about a Fidos demo held at her church. With Sandy’s love of animals, and her need for assistance and independence, she looked Fidos up on the Web. “I got really emotional because it seemed so right – I had to look into it for myself.” Sandy enjoyed working with many different dogs and learning from all of them, but she also found it challenging to maintain balance with an unfamiliar dog. Sandy was originally matched with Reese, a chocolate Labrador Retriever, but it soon became clear that Reese was not suited for the working life. Sandy and Fidos made one of the hardest decisions in the world. Reese retired as a pet in rural Maryland. That situation gave Quincy the opportunity to find his way into Sandy’s heart: “Quincy has given me my independence; I am now free to roam the earth. I can go about my daily life without fear of falling and having no one there to help me,” enthuses Sandy. “He lovingly cares for me … he is PURE GOLD.” Sandy finds that she has more energy since Quincy helps with many Graduating Teams continued on page 4 Providing Independence 1987 - 2009

Notes from the Board Celebrate!

Fidos Speaks Vol. 17 No. 3

For more information, contact: Fidos For Freedom, Inc P.O. Box 5508 Laurel, Maryland 20726 Phone: (410) 880-4178 (301) 490-4005 Fax: (301) 490-9061 MD Relay: (800) 201-7165 Web site: E-mail: Executive Director: Joe Swetnam Office Manager: Barbara DiSimone Director of Training: Pat Jarvis Director of Client Services: Sandy Ball Director of Volunteer Services: Laurie Hardy Director of Development: Frances Williams Newsletter Editor: Kim Blankenship Newsletter Staff: Catherine Angelo, Diane Bernier, Judi Bohn, Tracy Bowman, Barbara DiSimione, Colleen Doman, Ann Dunn, Pam Loeb, Bonnie Luepkes, Sherri Sirotkin, Frances Williams, Joanne Wilson Newsletter Designer: Sarah L. Gallant Staff Photographers: Jim Fenn, Bryan Sirotkin, Andy Weisburger Bookkeeper: Anne Weldon Board of Directors: President: Sherri Sirotkin Vice President: Noreen Javornik Secretary: Pamela Loeb Treasurer: Jane Harford Board Members: Tracy Bowman Judy Cannon Darrell (Bear) Hummer Copyright 2009 Fidos For Freedom, Inc. Material in this publication may not be reprinted or reused in any way without express permission from the Board of Directors. A copy of our current financial statement is available upon request by contacting Fidos For Freedom, Inc. Documents and information submitted to the State of Maryland under the Maryland Charitable Solicitations Act are available from the Office of the Secretary of State, State House, Annapolis, MD 21401 for the cost of copying and postage. Fidos For Freedom would like to thank all those involved at DigiLink, 840 South Pickett St., Alexandria, VA 22304-4606, for their contributions in making this newsletter possible.

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By Sherri G. Sirotkin, President


hen it is Spring at Fidos, you can along. I think we broke a record, even with count on two things: our Annual all of the speeches and presentations, the Banquet and Graduation and the ceremonies were finished by 8:45 p.m.! Golf Tournament. This year was no differThe Golf Tournament was held on May ent. On April 25 we held our Annual Banquet 18 at Compass Pointe Golf Course. The and Silent Auction in the Carriage Room at weather was wonderful and comfortable, the the Laurel Park race track. We had five teams course was in great shape, and the golfers graduate, and, as usual, at least one team’s had an outstanding time. We had fewer golfspeech brought tears to ers this year than in past the eyes of many. This years, which meant they year, it was Kay Scherr in finished in a reasonable her video tribute to her amount of time. No sevService Dog Eli. For those en hour rounds this year! of you who missed the I wasn’t there, but I heard event, Kay made a video, the food was good, and complete with lyrics she I was happy not to have wrote to the melody of to do the grilling. On “Mr. Sandman” (a song top of the fun everyone from the ‘50s), telling the had, it was a very profstory of how Eli saved itable event, ranking in her life one night. Kay had the top three of our golf gone to sleep and at some tournaments for money point during the night Eli raised for our programs. got restless and started A hearty thank you to nudging Kay and persisthose that helped make tently licking her legs. He the tournament a success, went back and forth beparticularly Frances Wiltween Kay and her hus- Sherri Sirotkin attends Tux and Tails Gala. liams and Diane Bernier! band Dave. Thinking he Thank you ladies, and all needed to go out, Kay tried to get out of bed of the people that helped make this a great only to learn that she couldn’t move her legs. event. The golf shirts were beautiful too. Dave called 911 and the paramedics took Kay The other thing Spring means at Fidos is to the hospital. All signs were that she had had PUPPIES … watch for updates. a stroke and Eli’s quick actions made a huge Stay healthy and thank you for all you do for difference in getting her help quickly. Even- Fidos For Freedom! tually, Kay learned that, in fact, it was not a stroke, but instead a serious flair up of her medical condition. It caused a significant degeneration resulting in Kay needing a wheelchair, where previously she had been able to move around using a walker. Eli was trained to help Kay with her changing needs, but was never trained to recognize paralysis. The two Fruit Sale are clearly devoted to each other! The Fruit Sale will begin September In addition to graduation, the banquet was 2009. Please contact Frances Williams a huge success with over 250 people and 75 at (443) 223-4976 or Roberta (Bert) to 90 dogs in attendance. The table sponsorShipp at (301) 580-2032 for further ships and silent auction helped to raise funds details. Postcards will be going out in to support Fidos programs. Volunteers and Sept. when we start the sale of Naval Therapy Dog teams were recognized and Oranges and Ruby Red Grapefruit straight from H&S Groves in Florida. James Rada, our Master of Ceremonies for the night, did a great job moving things Photo by Bryan Sirotkin

Fidos For Freedom, Inc. (Fidos) is a non-profit organization engaged in the training of Hearing Dogs and Service Dogs to assist persons with disabilities and providing Therapy Dog visits to area healthcare facilities. Fidos also participates in public education demonstrations and government programs to aid persons with disabilities.

Fidos Speaks

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Fulfilling A Child’s Wish By Catherine Angelo & Bonnie Luepkes

other dog entertained the family and we answered questions about Fidos For Freedom. We stayed about an hour and a half, with each dog having two turns in Joey’s bed. The family was very strong and had their emotions under control, which made it easier for us to do the same. They thanked us repeatedly and gave us a donation for Fidos. As we left, the nurse told us that she did not think Joey would live through the night. We both felt that the visit with Joey was the reason we joined Fidos For Freedom and was something we were meant to do for Joey and his family. It was not an easy visit to make, but in some ways, it was. Whenever something is wrong, or there’s “nothing anyone can do,” everyone wants to do something, anything, to help. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to do that, even a little bit. Fulfilling an individual’s dying wish is one of the most rewarding feelings anyone can ever experience. Photo by Mike Luepkes


n the morning of February 11, 2009, Debbie Taylor, Fidos Event Coordinator, received an urgent request from a nurse at Johns Hopkins Children’s Service Center for an immediate Therapy Dog visit. The request was on behalf of a young boy with cancer who was not expected to live through the day. His dying wish was to pet a dog. Unable to fulfill the request personally, Debbie called on us. We quickly readied ourselves and our dogs, Tucker and Sydney. Upon our arrival, the nurse explained that the young man was now less responsive. In the room, we met the parents, grandparents, two aunts and a younger brother of 12-year-old Joey. While not unconscious, Joey did not show much of a response to our presence. His family, however, was overjoyed to be able to give him his wish. Sydney and Tucker took turns getting into bed with Joey while his parents took turns helping him pet the dogs. They took numerous pictures of

Catherine Angelo & Bonnie Luepkes with Therapy Dogs Sydney & Tucker.

Joey and the dogs. His mother repeatedly said, “Joey, you got your wish! You are not only petting one dog, you are petting two dogs!” His parents said that his eyes moved more and his breathing changed, so they thought he knew that the dogs were there. For Joey, since his eyes were closed, we described the dogs to him. While one dog was in bed with Joey, the

BARC: Basic Awareness Reality Check ife happens to everyone. We are living our lives, humming along on normal, when something unexpected happens – an illness is diagnosed, an accident changes everything, and life as we are accustomed to living it, is no longer the same. The following checklist is for anyone experiencing these changes, and for friends and family members, as well, to help maintain the best level of wellness possible. 1) Check in with yourself, identify the early warning signs that signal you are reaching your physical and/or mental limits. 2) List the early warning signs and put the list where you can see it, to have available for those times when it’s hard to remember. 3) Identify feelings and situations which might cause you to disregard your early warning signs: these might include feelings of guilt, a sense that you should do something, frustration at not wanting to give in to the disability, worries about what other people will think, not want-

Summer 2009

ing to disappoint someone else. your Assistance Dog? Everyone deserves 4) List at least three things you do to the same kind of attention, recognition take care of yourself. Things that help of limits, and loving care, as you would you mentally or physically. Make it a point give to your dogs (assistance, therapy, or to do at least one of the three daily. pets of all species.) 5) It’s reasonable to remember that 9) Remember, you cannot take care of the list can change over time, as bod- your Assistance Dog, Therapy Dog, or ies age, disabilities wax or wane, during pet, if you do not take care of yourself. times of illness. Remember to check in with yourself, and update the list as needed. 6) Ask for feedback, from family members, friends, for things you might not recognize. 7) Practice letting people know, when you are having a harder time, rather than hiding or covering up your disability/illness, and how it’s effecting you. If you do this during times when you are feeling better, it will give you practice in asking for help, before you really NEED to do it. Raynor (Assistance Dog In Training-Puppy) & Echo 8) Ask yourself: Are you taking as (retired Hearing Assistance Dog, now Therapy Dog) take a Buhund Break. good care of yourself as you do of

Photo by Kim Blankenship


By Kim Blankenship

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Graduating Teams continued from page 1

yourself, the dogs you train with, and the matching process. It all falls into place, with the help and support of the whole Fidos family. Remember that everyone wants you to succeed – everyone.” Now that Eli and Kay are a working team, Kay thinks about how he has changed her life: “How HASN’T Mr. Eli changed my life? When my life turned upside down in July 2008 because of MS, and I lay para-

Denise Portis & Chloe

Sandy Ball & Quincy

Margie Bates-Noe & Ruby

Wendy Hill-House & Roy

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Photos by Bryan Sirotkin

things, including picking things up and running items up and down the stairs. As for new clients, Sandy counsels: “Enjoy the training phase, working with many dogs and trainers. Set your sights on the goal of getting matched, but don’t be so consumed that you miss out on the joy of training. The journey and the destination are equally important.” It is obvious when you see Sandy and Quincy together that they share the joy of a highly effective and joyous canine partnership that began during training and forged in their life together. Kay Scherr has her daughter-in-law Alisa to thank for introducing her to Fidos: “I had looked around, but wasn’t prepared to have to go out of state for weeks and pay a hefty fee for a Service Dog. Plus, they pick a dog in advance for you – it sounded like an arranged marriage!” Alisa found Fidos on the Web as Kay realized that her disease was robbing her of her independence and that she needed help with balance and walking. Kay remembers the time spent in training: “It was a magical time. I was raised with dogs from the time I was born, and I thought I knew all about them. But I learned something every time I came up the ramp and crossed over the training room threshold. Such an amazing group

of knowledgeable, experienced and dedicated volunteers. It made me feel good about myself and what I was doing there.” Kay was challenged working with different dogs. “It was like speed dating, you just get to know one dog, and then you are on to the next one the following week. But I soon understood the concept and was grateful for it.” Kay goes on: “For new clients, be patient with

Kay Scherr & Eli

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lyzed in a hospital bed for three months, I had lots of time to think. I had to get stronger for my devoted family. That was a given. But I often thought about Eli and Fidos. I couldn’t let Eli down, or my trainers Sarah and Paul Kriedeman, or any of the other wonderful people who had done so much to help me!” Eli gave Kay the motivation to keep going even when things were overwhelming, and he continues to lend his support during the ongoing struggle that continues today. With his soulful eyes and his comical and friendly demeanor, Eli is Kay’s confidant, physical therapist and cheerleader. What more could a girl ask for? Margie Bates-Noe learned about Fidos through the Therapy Dog Program, but the notion of a Hearing Dog was not new. “I had a Hearing Dog in Texas, but had to leave him behind when I moved,” confided Margie. “I applied as soon as I found Fidos.” Margie enjoyed working with all of the dogs, but was frustrated it took so long to find her soulmate. “It was hard to watch other people come in and get matched, and I was still waiting,” Margie remembers. “I walked out the door twice, but I’m glad a trainer pulled me back in.” Finally, Margie and Ruby were matched, and Ruby became her partner and friend. “I love Ruby – especially the way she looks at me. She speaks volumes with her eyes.” Margie has peace of mind that Ruby will alert her to sounds Margie might not hear, and also to beautiful sounds that happen every day, such as birds singing or the wind in a shrub. If it makes a noise,

Ruby lets Margie know. Margie coaches new clients: “LISTEN to your trainers – they have good advice. I recently was out with Ruby and she got loose. I panicked and yelled at her to come, but remembered to remain calm, get a treat and call her to come – and she did, just like Pat said. We have great resources at Fidos.” Wendy Hill-House learned about Fidos when her employer, the Maryland Department of Rehabilitative Services, set up a demo. Deaf since birth, Wendy adapted to life in the hearing world, but two traumatic childhood events made her painfully aware of the impact of hearing loss. The first occurred when a drunk driver hit her house during the night; Wendy was surprised to see the car crashed into the wall the next day. The second was her mother’s murder in the house where Wendy lay sleeping peacefully: “My neighbor and some police officers woke me and escorted me out of the house. They had to tell

The clients thank the following people as particularly important to their success: Chloe: Donated by Animal Welfare Action Group; Sponsor: Anonymous; Puppy Raiser, Linda Odom; Trainer: Jolanthe Winjnholds and Pat Jarvis Quincy: Donated by the Cunningham Family, California; Facilitator: Sister Pauline Quinn; Sponsor: Knights of Pythias; Puppy Raiser: Mel and MaryMargaret Bayo and Mitch Molenof; Trainer: Tracy Bowman Eli: Breeder, Debbie Fisher; Sponsor, Kirsten Pollin; Puppy Raisers, Jolanthe Winjnholds and Ted Munter; Trainer: Sarah Werner and Paul Kriedeman Ruby: Breeder, Ellee Neilands; Sponsor, Custom Title & Escrow; Puppy Raiser, Prison Program and Dave Eaton; Trainer: Laurie Steele and Pat Jarvis Roy: Breeder, Ellee Neilands; Sponsor, Carroll Kennel Club; Puppy Raiser, Prison Program; Trainer: Gretchen Strecker and Tracy Bowman

We Need Puppy Raisers! Fidos For Freedom is looking for a few good people to be Puppy Raisers. This job involves having the puppy, (a Future Assistance Dog In Training), in your home for an amount of time that can vary, from approximately four months to one year, until it enters the next phase of its training. During this time, you, the Puppy Raiser, will be attending weekly classes at the Fidos Training Center to learn how to teach the puppy good household manners and socialize the puppy to people and its environment. If you would like more information about being a Puppy Raiser, please contact Fidos by sending an e-mail to:

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me my mom was dead.” Wendy remembers working with Roy: “I did not expect to be matched with Roy – he almost drove me crazy!” Over time, their bond began to strengthen. Wendy remembers fondly: “Tracy Bowman told me that when I gave Roy back, he would sit and look longingly after me – he wanted me to come back! This touched my heart.” Wendy had a cute way to announce the match. “I told them that I had a new boyfriend named Roy who made me very happy, and that he was blonde and hairy.” Her statements caused disconcerted responses, but Wendy was quick to add that Roy was her new Hearing Dog! Since then, Roy has been a skilled partner, alerting Wendy to important sounds and fetching dropped items. Wendy is happy to be a part of Fidos, and advises new clients about the tremendous job staff and volunteers do to help the quality of life for individuals with disabilities.

Fidos Speaks

Breeders Kathleen & Roger Harris; Gabi~Lars Kennel; Photo by Kathleen Harris

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Training is a Snap . . . or a Click, but Not a Pop!


By Tracy Bowman

s a Fidos training staff Fidos. Mary Austin had taught member, I like to dehim tricks using a clicker when velop my craft or at least she was his trainer. He made me avoid being the worst dog trainer look good, and we drew many on the planet. Many people had compliments. We practiced tried to introduce me to the click“free shaping” – teaching a new er, but I was kind of apathetic. It behavior through a series of inalways seemed to require hours crementally learned behaviors. of lecture before we even looked Erin and Score had a blast in for a dog … probably warrantthe hot dog retrieve workshop ed, but I come from a different – yes, you can use a clicker to place. Don’t hand me a manual, teach that skill! Brody and I had don’t expect me to wait until you so much fun that we found ourpatiently explain every step beselves at ClickerExpo 2009, fofore we start … I jump right in, cusing on topics relevant to our and learn as I go along. I had to obedience work. Brody particuAttending Kathy Sdao’s seminar at ClickerExpo: see training in action and it had larly enjoyed the back-chaining Erin Saywell & Score, Tracy Bowman & Brody. to be useful. And that is what lab, because the instructor used changed my mind ... a fellow Ashim to demo the use of a toy sistance Dog trainer (and former (orange fleece Zany ball) as a dolphin trainer) used free shapfantastic reinforcer. ing (more on that later) to teach Back home, the clicker helps a dog to fetch a phone. It took me teach and reinforce behav10 minutes, and it was something ior with Fidos dogs. You don’t a Fidos trainer wanted to teach have to be an Assistance Dog Theo. I was hooked! trainer to use a clicker, and What is clicker training? A anyone with a love of dogs and clicker is a small plastic tool an interest in training them can that costs about $2, and, as you go to ClickerExpo. If this submight guess, it makes a clickject interests you, I encourage ing sound. In clicker speak, the you to learn more. Start by visclicker is a bridging tool to mark iting the Karen Pryor Web site a specific desirable behavior and at, or to indicate to the animal (dog, pick up a copy of her book, cat, fish, dolphin, or elephant) “Don’t Shoot the Dog” (a clasBrody & Emma Parsons, author of Click To Calm: Healing the that a reinforcer is on its way. sic) or her upcoming book due Aggressive/Reactive Dog. Huh? Now you see what I mean. in June 2009, “Reaching the Aniknow what I mean? What a fabulous Putting it in people-speak: the mal Mind.” Karen will have many dog learns that whatever it is doing at experience! I met gifted and down to interesting animal stories for sure, but THE MOMENT it hears the click is a earth trainers such as Kathy Sdao, who she will also tell us about the neuroscigood thing, and a reward is on the way. explained the science of operant learn- ence that makes clicker training work. A good reward is anything the dog likes ing; Ken Ramirez, head trainer at Shedd Lastly, if you want to learn more about (treat, toy, ice cube, chance to spin, etc.) Aquarium in Chicago; Emma Parsons, use of a clicker and about Clickerand will work to obtain. The dog is ac- author of “Click to Calm” and inspira- Expo, visit tive in the process, using its intelligence tion to so many with reactive dogs; and, clickerexpo/?loaditem=video_tour. of course, Karen Pryor, author of the Happy clicking, and thanks for tuning to figure out what to do. Enter Erin Saywell, Fidos Puppy Co- famous “Don’t Shoot the Dog.” Click- into this article <click>! ordinator, who alerted the training staff erExpo is comprised of large lectures Author Tracy Bowman is currently to ClickerExpo, a conference focused and smaller workshops that let you put teaching 10 year old Fidos Therapy Dog on positive training techniques, how into action what you have learned. Of Mischief to retrieve a dumbbell using a to use a clicker, and why it works. Fi- course, when you are an amateur, you clicked retrieve technique. Her major dos sent us both, but I was a little in- want a seasoned professional at your obstacles are retrieving pros Maya and timidated to go. Would it be like a cult? side – so I brought my five-year-old Brody who “explain” (cry) how they Would I have to eat the granola, if you Smooth Collie named Kelso’s Brody of could do it much better. Page 6

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Sponsors of Tux and Tails Gala April 2009 Gold Adele Bourgault Charlie Carpenter Debbie Junkins Debbie Taylor Gary Fleshman Joe & Barbara Swetnam Nancy & Bruce Kittinger Susan & Andy Weisburger

Crab Feast Crab Feast tickets are now available. 12 tickets for $10 could win you: 2 bushels of crabs 1 case of beer 1 case of sodas 10 crab mallets 1 bottle of vinegar JO seasoning for your crabs Newspapers to wrap up the shells Case of corn on the cob

Silver Carol & Richard Margolis Don Gavelek

Make this offer to your friends and family: if you win the Crab Feast for ten, you will invite the friends and/or family members who sell the most tickets, to join you at your home for the Crab Feast (they can eat and drink and then clean up!) What a deal!

Bronze Beverly Dalton Board of Directors Deborah Whitehead Don Oberg

Dorothy Bryan Eagle Eye Care Elizabeth Weisburger Frances Williams James Rada Jill Kolody John Yerg Katrin Daly Ken Reed Laurel Lions Foundation Lesley Robinson Myla DeLoatch Nichole Person Norman Bernier Patricia Bentley-Fisher Sarah Werner & Paul Kriedeman Sherri Sirotkin Tim & Kathy Ray

Need an Assistance Dog or Know Someone Who Does?

Photo by Ann Dunn

Applicants for an Assistance Dog must meet the following requirements: • Live within a 75-mile radius of Laurel, MD • Be at least 18 years of age • Be able to physically, financially and emotionally meet the needs of one of these very special dogs • Provide the dog with ample opportunity to perform the skills it has been trained to do

Summer 2009

Fidos Speaks

To request an application or for more information, call or e-mail: Office: (301) 490-4005, (410) 880-4178 MD Relay: (800) 201-7165 Fax: (301) 490-9061 E-mail:

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My Journey to the Coveted Cape By Judi Bohn


first heard about Fidos more than ten years ago when I was teaching in Ellicott City. The Disability Awareness Program came to my school. As with everyone else, my heart melted when the dogs entered the room. Then they started performing their magic. I remember thinking that the Black Lab I had at the time would NEVER be able to act as calm and well-behaved as the Fidos dogs. I was in total awe! Three years ago we drove to Tennessee to get a 17-week-old English Cocker Spaniel named Jane. Even then, her longer than average eyelashes were evident. We brought her home and as we began to take her places, people constantly commented on Jane’s calm, gentle manner. Knowing that Jane’s mother was a Therapy Dog who went to a first grade classroom in Knoxville, I began to wonder whether Jane could follow in her mother’s footsteps. In August of 2006, when Jane was nine months old, I signed her up for her first obedience class (Beginner class at our vet’s office). On the last day of the class, my daughter, who was 17, asked me if I realized that it was the last class and Jane still didn’t listen! The next day I drove out to PetSmart and signed her up for the Beginner class – again. Jane

graduated after a repeat performance of the Beginner skills, took and succeeded at the Intermediate level, and then proceeded to the Advanced class in which she was the only student. By that time, it was approaching Spring 2007. I printed out all of the Fidos Therapy Dog requirements from the Web site, filled out and submitted the volunteer application, and waited for the phone call to be interviewed. Once I succeeded with the interview, my name was put on the list for the Therapy Dog testing that May. Luckily, the PetSmart trainer agreed to run the class just for Jane. We spent the next eight weeks working on the Fidos skills – sit/stay for three minutes, stand/stay for one minute, heeling, coming when called from 20 feet, and the dreaded 15 minute down/stay. Every time we practiced the down/stay, Jane would fall asleep – if that was allowed during the Fidos test, I knew we would be in luck! I was very nervous the day of the testing. I gave Jane a bath, gathered up all the required vet shot records, and took her to the dog park. I hoped going to the dog park would wear her out so she’d be tired enough to do the obedience skills for the required lengths of

time. It worked!!! The eight months of training might have helped a bit, too. Next came the Handlers’ Class. Though Sylvia joked about “being sure” we would go home and read the manual, I hung on every word she said, then went home and read the binder from cover to cover. I subsequently observed at two visits and took Jane to four Wednesday night training classes. I felt a great sense of pride when I signed off on the last requirement and turned in the checklist. We were now an official Therapy Dog Team! We started visits the summer of 2007 at Brooke Grove and Riderwood retirement homes and Holy Cross Hospital. Then, when school started, we signed up as a DEAR Team. Since that time, we have added Kennedy Krieger Institute to our monthly list. It is apparent that Jane’s favorite visit is Holy Cross Hospital. She eagerly lies on patients’ beds, makes herself VERY comfortable, and then has to be coaxed into getting up to leave. I know the experience is uplifting for the patients, but I must say, Jane gets a lot out of it too! Of course, I rarely leave feeling anything but true contentment. Several memorable moments that reinforce the positive impact our dogs continued on following page









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have on others are: 1) Jane was laying on a couch, resting her head on a Brooke Grove patient’s lap when the woman turned to me, smiled and said, “This is the best thing that’s happened to me since I’ve been in this place.”; and 2) on the way to the oncology floor at Holy Cross Hospital, a man in the elevator with the Therapy Dog teams asked if we could stop in and visit his brother who had just received news that his condition was likely terminal. Before we left his brother’s room, the man told us, with tears in his eyes, that it was first time his brother had smiled in days. And so the monthly train-

ing continued … the visits continued … updating vet records continued … and April 25, 2009 approached. The night of the Tux and Tails Gala was finally here! Since Jane did not become a Certified Therapy Dog until June 2007, and the caping occurs at the banquet the April after the dog has been in good standing for one year, it was a long wait–almost two years. Also having to wait that long for capes were the following dogs: Cole Bourgault, Sasha Carpenter, Tela Delia, Lily Eaton, Teddy Eifried, Kaylee Ettlin, Drake Ettlin, Winnie Fenn, Jackson Fleshman, Dixie Hannan , Zora Jones, Kona Lang , Tucker Luepkes, Buckeye Rogal, Thor Serber, Toby Sheng, Whoopie Van

Bemmel, Jordan Weisburger, Mackie Weisburger, and Diesel Wu. I know that the owners of these dogs felt the same sense of accomplishment I did when we were finally able to put the Fidos capes on our dogs, stand in front of the room, and hear our dogs’ names announced. I’m not sure how many dogs were in attendance at the banquet, but I can tell you this: if you were a passerby entering the banquet room, you would have had no idea it was a “dog-attended” function. My husband, daughter and parents, all of whom wouldn’t have missed Jane’s big moment for anything, were totally amazed at how quiet and well-mannered the dogs were. I did hear that

there was one bark; but, rumor has it, it was a human – not one of the dogs! And so, after waiting for two years, doing so much, and really earning the great recognition that comes with being a “caped” Fidos Therapy Dog Team … I recently got another English Cocker Spaniel named Owen, and his journey to the coveted cape has just begun.













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Fidos Speaks


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Hi there Patricia, Brycemeister here. Say, I like your writing. How many code names do you have? Is Marley one of them? Did you pen that biography, “Marley?” I’m a collie. I don’t do the cute thing. I’m bold as brass and if I don’t want to do something (and I usually don’t) I ignore the command. Yea, I just look right at them and ignore them. It confuses them, they’re only humans. Then I go sniff a butt or two, bark, whatever I want. Thanks for the advice. I like your spunk, pup. Keep those cards and letters coming. —Brycemeister

Photo by Joanne & Rick Wilson

Hey there Brycemeister, great tips! Isn’t it amazing how many humans are out there and how many ways there are to train them? I say stick with what you know, I just happen to be cute and so far it has worked every time. It’s hard to be bold and brass when you are short, with a fluffy tail and lopsided ears. Hope to see you at the next gathering, —Patricia






lots of the really good treats. “Shhh, did you hear that? My person is coming. If she found out I know how to use this thing, she’ll make me do more of her work. Gotta go, more later” —Patti (call me by my code name “Patricia”. We don’t want “them” to know we are talking

Photo by Kim Blankenship

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By Colleen Doman & Joanne Wilson

he Rolling Down Stay – If you are put on a down stay while your person is using the computer or some other human distraction you can still go where you want by following these steps: comply with the “down” command, ignore the “stay” command, (too many words). When she/he is no longer paying attention to you, yawn and roll over on your back in the direction you want to go. If this movement attracts the attention of your person, just wiggle your butt back and forth, look lovingly at the person and implement the “I’m just scratching my back” look. Once the person looks away, stretch and complete the roll until you are back into the paws-on-the-floor position. Repeat until you think she/he can’t see you and quietly get up and walk away. Remember! Always roll in the same direction, move slowly, if she/he does look at you try to look real cute or close your eyes and pretend to be asleep. If you get off course or need to change direction, sit up and vigorously scratch your head, pretend you have just been bitten by something and need to check your back, then return to the down position in the new direction. Wait until she/he is distracted and repeat the first two steps until you’ve reached your objective. Fetching For the Non-Lab – Unless you are a lab or some other type of dog with retriever in your breed name, fetching is not the end all most fantabulous, bestest thing in the world to do. Here’s how to get around it or at the very least work the system so you get



Service Dog to Service Dog . . . things people won’t teach you


ADI Trainers Conference in October

Fidos For Freedom needs your help to send two of its trainers to the Assistance Dogs International Trainers’ Conference to be held in Estes Park, Colorado October 4-6, 2009. We are accepting donations to be used toward purchasing their airline tickets. Donations may be given via the Fidos Web site,, click on donations; or send it to Fidos For Freedom, Inc., P.O. Box 5508, Laurel, MD 20726 – please write “trainers’ airfare” on your check. All donations are greatly appreciated.

Fidos Has a New T-Shirt “Friends of Fidos” T-shirt is a white, all cotton, quality t-shirt. We want to sell these at all Fidos’ events. We have medium, large, extra large, and 2x large t-shirts with our logo. Cost is $10/shirt for Fidos volunteers and $15/shirt for non-Fidos people. Anyone selling $300.00 or more in raffle tickets gets a free “Friends of Fidos” T-shirt. Contact the office at Fidos or go to the merchandise room and purchase them there. Contact Frances Williams at (443) 223-4976 or e-mail if you have any questions or want to order large quantities.


Fidos Speaks

Summer 2009

10th Annual Fidos For Freedom Golf Tournament

The 10th Annual Fidos Golf Tournament was held on May 18, 2009 at Compass Pointe Golf Course in Pasadena, Maryland. It was a brisk 56 degrees when the tournament kicked off. Quite a difference from last year’s record temperature of 110 degrees. A special thanks goes out to the volunteers that helped me. Diane Bernier, Brian Bowman, Tracy Bowman, Samantha Bowman, Sandy Ball & Quincy, Judy Cannon & Dazzle & Prince, Anne Weldon, and Joe Swetnam. Ken Reed’s team consisting of Ray Starling, Darren Mast, and Mike Vocke won first place. Darren Mast went on the be the only qualifying shooter for the $10,000.00 putting contest. He was close but not a hole in one. Dr. Bob Cohn’s team consisting of Donald Ries, Jim Hollis, and Jim S. won second place. Our sponsorships were up from last year. Fidos thanks all who sponsored T-Shirts, Drink Cart, and Individual holes. It was a great day for golfing. Hole 1: Members of the 2009 Fidos For Freedom Board of Directors Hole 2: Dr. Stewart S. Loeb, Chiropractor Hole 3: Kibble and Klips, All Natural Pet Food and Treats Jeff Maynor, PGA Director University of MD University Golf Course, College Park, MD Hole 4: Diane Bernier and Pepe, retired Hearing Dog Hole 5: Dr. Nicolette Martin-Davis

Hole 6: Tracy & Brian Bowman, Celebrating 24 years of marriage. Hole 7: Nice & Tidy Reliable Cleaning Services, Owner: Alice Harris Acupuncture For Animals, Noreen Javornik, M.S., M.Ac., L.Ac. Hole 8: Eagle Eye Care, Fred Sirotkin, O.D. Hole 9: Goldtree Lawn & Garden, Brian A. Swetnam, BSBA Hole 10: Fidos Office Staff: Barbara DiSimone and Anne Weldon Hole 12: MBS Mechanical, Inc., Matt Seifrit, President Hole 13: bush_pilot 13 Hole 14: Bert Shipp & Judge, Assistance Dog Hole 15: Branch Banking & Trust

Photos by Bryan Sirotkin

By Frances Williams

Hole 16: My Office Products, Ken Reed, Account Executive Hole 17: Eagle Eye Care, Fred Sirotkin, O.D. Hole 18: Pythian Sisters, Forest Oak, Temple #18, Gaithersburg, MD Drink Stations sponsored by Dr. Bob Cohn, N. Laurel Animal Hospital, Laurel, MD Golf Tournament Polo Shirts sponsored by BB&T Bank.

Dora & Champ

Summer 2009

Photos by Sherri Sirotkin

Dora, a 6 month old, Golden Retriever, and Champ, a 13 month old Yellow Labrador Retriever, are presently in the Federal Correction Institute in Cumberland, MD, learning basic obedience. While at the prison, the dogs have a fenced exercise yard with agility equipment to practice on.

Fidos Speaks

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P.O. Box 5508 Laurel, MD 20726


An Assistance Dog and Therapy Dog Training Organization The mission of Fidos For Freedom, Inc. is to increase the quality of life of people living in the BaltimoreWashington Metropolitan Community through the use of specially trained Hearing Dogs, Service Dogs and Therapy Dogs.







Fidos For Freedom, Inc., is proud to be an accredited voting member of Assistance Dogs International. Please remember to designate Fidos For Freedom, Inc., in your workplace giving campaign. NCE Federal workers in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) D TA IS Combined Federal Campaign: CFC # 41908 O


If the symbols ## appear on your mailing label, this is your last issue. Please contact Fidos to continue this service.


Fidos is an Assistance Dogs International Accredited Facility

Maryland State employees in the Maryland Charity Campaign (MCC) Maryland Charity Campaign: MCC # 2605 United Way Write-in: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Fidos For Freedom, Inc.â&#x20AC;?

Fidos Speaks  

Vol. 17 No. 3 An information exchange serving clients, supporters and volunteers of Fidos For Freedom, Inc. Summer 2009

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