Category Archives: special dogs and awards

Southwest Airlines teams up with Canine Companions

Southwest Airlines has committed its support to Canine Companions for Independence by allowing volunteer puppy raisers and their puppies to travel at no additional charge (a savings of $95 per puppy per trip).

The company has instituted this benefit as a standard policy after a very successful six-month trial.  The puppy raisers were professional and the puppies were well-behaved.

The puppies gain valuable experience with commercial flying even before they are fully trained and graduate.  So the Airline is supporting the Canine Companions’ training program with practical skills.

Founded in 1975, CCI is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly-trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships. CCI is the largest non-profit provider of assistance dogs, and is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and the quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people. CCI trains four types of assistance dogs: Service dogs, Hearing dogs, Skilled Companion dogs, and Facility dogs—all of which provide specialized assistance to those in need.

Well done to Southwest Airlines!

Puppy raisers pre-board each aircraft at the same time that passengers with disabilities are given the opportunity to board.  The dogs must have a valid vaccination record and CCI identification must also be produced.

canine-companions-for-independence

Source:  The Companion, Northeast Region, Summer 2016

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Pet therapy can combat homesickness

The expression dog is man’s best friend might have more weight in the case of first-year university students suffering from homesickness, according to a new UBC study.

The study shows that animal-assisted therapy can help students combat homesickness and could be a useful tool in lowering post-secondary drop-out rates.

homesickness-research-photo

John Tyler Binfet, seen with his dog Frances, conducted a study on the effect of pet therapy on homesickness. Binfet runs the Building Academic Retention Through K’9s (B.A.R.K.) program at UBC’s Okanagan campus. Credit: UBC

“Transitioning from high school to university can prove to be a challenge for many first-year students,” says Assistant Professor John Tyler Binfet of UBC’s Okanagan campus.

“Given that students who experience homesickness are more likely than their non-homesick cohorts to drop out of university, universities have a vested interest in supporting students during their first-year transition.”

In the study, 44 first-year university students who self-identified as homesick were given a survey to measure levels of homesickness, satisfaction with life and connectedness with campus. Half of the students completed eight weeks of dog therapy, while the other half were informed that their sessions would begin in eight weeks’ time. Dog therapy included 45-minute weekly sessions involving small group interactions with the dogs and handlers, and engagement with other first-year students participating in the study.

Following the initial eight-week session, participants in both the treatment group and the non-treatment group completed the survey again.

Participants who completed the eight-week program experienced significant reductions in homesickness and greater increase in satisfaction with life. Participants reported that sessions “felt like they were at home chatting with friends who brought their puppies.” While the non-treatment group reported an increase in their feelings of homesickness.

According to a 2009 report conducted for B.C. Stats, students who left post-secondary happy were almost twice as likely to have felt a sense of belonging compared to students who left unhappy. Students who left university unhappy were almost twice as likely to say they did not feel a sense of belonging on campus.

A total of 29 per cent of students who dropped out cited more interactions and friendships with other students as a factor that would have influenced their decision to stay longer.

While further study is needed, a university’s ability to influence campus connections could be a useful tool in lowering drop-out rates in first-year students, says Binfet.

“Many first-year university students face the challenge of integrating into their new campus community,” says Binfet. “Homesick students are three times more likely than those who manage their homesickness to disengage and drop out of university.”

“Moving to a new city, I did not know anyone at the university and became very homesick and depressed,” says UBC Okanagan student Varenka Kim. “I was mainly secluded in my dorm room and did not feel like I belonged here. Coming to animal assisted therapy sessions every Friday gave me a sense of purpose and kept me enthusiastic about life.”

Source:  University of British Columbia media release

The seagull dog at the Australian National Maritime Museum

A former working dog left in foster care secured a job at the Australian National Maritime Museum three months ago.  Dog and employer are very happy with the results.

Meet Bailey, a Border Collie.

Bailey the seagull dog

Photo credit: 702 ABC Sydney, Robbie Buck

Bailey’s job is to scare away the seagulls that soil the Pyrmont Wharf and the vessels that are docked at the museum.  He’s very enthusiastic about his work and, since he’s officially an employee, he’s wears a flotation jacket for safety.

When Bailey isn’t on duty, he sleeps in the Museum’s security control room.

Another dog with a job!

Source:  ABC News

Bandito and Luigi

A pug named Bandito and a cat named Luigi have taken social media by storm. These companions,with over 25,000 followers across Facebook and Instragram, have walked 1500km across Spain with their humans, who purchased them a doggy stroller specifically for their travels.

Bandito and Luigi in stroller

 

Partners Finn and Sebastian let the pair become accustomed to the stroller at home for weeks before venturing out.  Eventually they walked the 497 mile Camino de Santiago trail together, a trip that took six weeks.

The stroller is a safe haven for Bandito and Luigi who use it as a resting place or a place to go when they are scared.

According to co-owner, Sebastian, Bandito and Luigi are the best of friends but he cautions that this style of travel would not suit all pets.

“It is easy if you act like it is their holiday but not if you overestimate your pet’s abilities.  We have had to be vigilant at all times. Inner cities are not ideal places, but fortunately we are in the countryside the vast majority [of time]. Because of this we can really enjoy our time together like climbing trees with the cat and running around with the pug.”   

I particularly like the style of stroller chosen for Bandito and Luigi.  It reminds me of the Pope Mobile used by Handsome Dan, the Vicktory dog featured in the documentary film The Champions.

Source:  The Telegraph and Pug and Cat Facebook

Gobi and her ultra marathoner

The story of Dion Leonard and the dog who accompanied him through the Gobi Desert ultra marathon earlier this year has been making its rounds through the internet this week.

What dog lover could pass up the chance to hear about the dog who decided to bond with a man she had never met, through an grueling endurance event?  It sounds very much the like the 2014 story of Arthur who adopted the Swedish Peak Performance team in the Amazon.

Dion Leonard and Gobi

I suggest you listen to Dion Leonard himself in this interview on WBUR radio in Boston.  There’s nothing like hearing the story first-hand!

(Dion Leonard is currently fundraising to adopt Gobi and bring her to Scotland to live with him.  I hope he reaches his goal.)

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Will’s raffle

Will

I follow a number of greyhound sites on Facebook because Izzy is a greyhound and greyhound owners are well known for wanting to share photos of their hounds.

This year has been particularly hard on Will’s family.  Will was very ill and required surgery.  The vets couldn’t find anything that was causing the massive inflammation in Will’s chest and abdomen.  Lots of drugs and he still wasn’t getting better.  So more surgery and finally, they think they got the problem under control.

Will’s family stuck by him, but as you can imagine the vet bills were massive.  A call went out for raffle prizes to help them pay the bills (something they reluctantly agreed to) and I had to contribute.

Today I am sending this prize to the winner of the raffle.  It contains three bags of my preservative-free dog treats  – Cranberry & Coconut Biscotti, Apple, Cranberry & Ginger Biscotti and Salmon Squares – and a triple-headed toothbrush which is ideal for greyhounds (who are known to have lots of dental problems).

Will's raffle prize

As an independent business, I get lots of requests for support.  Some resonate more than others.  Will’s family weren’t going to give up on him without a fight and in this case, I think they made the right decision.  We are all hopeful that his inflammatory condition doesn’t return (it was thought to be a foreign body of some type, that has never revealed itself on scans, etc).

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

The dogs of the In Situ Foundation

The In Situ Foundation based in Chico, California, has spent the last 12 years developing scientific protocols that are needed to train cancer detection dogs and their handlers.  In collaboration with top research universities including Duke and UC Davis, they rescue dogs and train them to sniff out specific cancers.  All training is reward based.

What I particularly like about this registered charitable foundation is their mission to use rescue dogs “Our mission is to use shelter/rescue dogs whenever possible. We adopt dogs and give them loving homes, so what could have been a dog on death row, is now being trained to save human lives. All dogs are “super sniffers”, so we do not believe in breeding them, or creating a “super sniffer” breed.”

The dogs of In Situ live in residential homes with their adoptive families.  Their day jobs are to go to work at the Foundation.

Here are the current dogs in the In Situ team:

Stewie

Stewie is a 5 year-old, female, Australian Shepherd. She has been one of In Situ’s best dogs, and has been trained to detect early stage lung, ovarian, and breast cancer. She was one of our star dogs in a 2012 ovarian cancer study, and she is also on Duke University’s canine team for breast cancer. Stewie has also competed in agility, obedience, and is a certified therapy dog with Pet Partners and LA Children’s Hospital, where she visits sick children. Stewie was nominated for the 2015 American Hero Dog Award, given by the American Humane Association. Stewie is a beautiful, loving, smart and talented dog, who loves her work more than anything, except the frisbee.

Leo

Leo is a 2 year-old, male German Shepherd, that In Situ Foundation adopted from Westside German Shepherd Rescue. Leo was on death row, and he was scheduled to be euthanized. He is a wonderful, loving, friendly and well-trained dog, and he’s very valuable to In Situ’s team. Leo is on the team of dogs working in conjunction with Duke University on a two-phase, breast cancer trial.
Charlie

Charlie is the newest addition to the team.  She is a six week-old German Shepherd from champion lines (from Nadulhaus German Shepherds) and will be one of the first dogs in the world trained on upper thoracic (head, neck and throat) cancer, using saliva samples. After 12 to 18 months of training with In Situ Foundation, she will be owned and loved by Dr. Peter Belafsky (University of California, Davis) and will work with him to sniff samples in clinical trails, which will help advance protocols to detect cancer at its earliest stages through olfaction.

Linus
Linus is a 3 year-old male German Shepherd who was also on death row, and adopted by In Situ Foundation. He was returned to the shelter three times by his previous owner. When he came to our ranch and got his first “job”, it literally transformed Linus’s life. Linus went from a small “jail cell” to a life of love and play. He’s happy, balanced, and well adjusted, and he’s the most loving boy around! Linus loves his work, and he’s a gem on our cancer detection team. Linus also works on the Duke team of breast cancer detection dogs.
alfie
Alfie is another new addition to the In Situ team. He will be owned and loved by Dr. Hilary Brodie, Chair of Otolaryngolgy at University of California, Davis. Alfie is a Labradoodle (Lab/Poodle hybrid) who will also be trained to detect upper thoracic cancers, and he will be working toward advancing bio-detection by canines at UC Davis.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand