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Tag: golden retriever

Bring in the comfort dogs — again

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Jacob is a golden retriever who gets to go on lots of trips.

In 2016, he got to go to Orlando.

In 2017, he got to go to Las Vegas.

This year’s excursion was back to Florida, to a town called Parkland.

Jacob, you’d think, should be one happy dog, getting to go on all those trips, and getting lots of attention each time.

jacobBut Jacob, a four-year-old dog who lives in Illinois, is a comfort dog, specially trained to help survivors of tragedies.

He was present in the aftermath of the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas (58 left dead), and at the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre (49 left dead).

This week he’s helping the students, teachers and parents dealing with the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left at least 17 people, mostly children, dead.

You’d think, by now, comfort dogs such as he would be wondering about a species that harms its own members with such devastating regularity — and does such woefully little about it.

Likely not. Perhaps dogs don’t wonder about things like that.

Clearly, we humans don’t either — at least not enough to bring about real change.

Instead, we vent. We ache. Then we return to our own comfortable lives — lives not quite as plush and secure and NRA-supported as those politicians lead.

jacob3We are happy to see the comfort dogs arrive at the scene, happy to see people getting helped. The images serve as salve to our wounds — but they are wounds that should stay open, stay oozing and never stop throbbing until we get those politicians to act.

Dogs can lick our wounds. Humans can actually take steps to prevent them in the first place. But they don’t. Why? Because Bubba likes to hunt, and it’s his constitutional right, and if, every year or so, some deranged human decides gunning down fleeing people might be more fun, that’s the price we pay.

The rest of us, and dogs like Jacob, are left to mop up.

Jacob has been working since he was 16 months old. He’s had a lot of on-the-job experience — too much, says Tim Hetzner, president and CEO of Lutheran Church Charities, which runs the K-9 Comfort Dogs Ministry.

“I’d prefer they’d never have to be deployed for these type of situations,” Hetzner said.

Jacob is one of 130 dogs in 23 states who have been trained by LCC to be comfort dogs. They arrive in the aftermath of tragedies to soothe those coping with the trauma or mourning loved ones they lost.

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They are, basically, grief sponges, absorbing the gut-wrenching misery of victims and survivors.

“They don’t bark, bite, jump up,” Hetzner told Yahoo News. “They’re trained to either sit or to lie down on the ground — it depends on the situation. A lot of times with students that are on the ground, the dog lies down on the ground, and they lie on top of the dog. They’re kind of comfort rugs with a heartbeat sometimes.”

Jacob is expected to be in Parkland until the middle of the week before returning home and awaiting the next call to duty.

Unfortunately — as politicians twiddle their thumbs and debate actually doing something, as the gun lobby digs in to ensure they won’t — there will be a next one.

And we’ll bring out the comfort dogs again.

(Top photo, Associated Press; other photos courtesy of Comfort Dogs Ministry)

UNC baseball team starts season with a service dog in the dugout

The University of North Carolina baseball team has welcomed a new teammate this year — a 2-year-old golden retriever named Remington.

Remington isn’t there to be a mascot, though he has learned some mascot-like tricks, like holding his cap for the national anthem, taking balls to the ump, and high-fiving his teammates.

But his larger role is as Carolina’s first athletics training room assistance dog (and the first in the ACC).

UNC reports that the dog’s official title is “psychiatric medical alert facility rehabilitation service dog,” which sounds like a lot of responsibility.

But, cutting through the mumbo-jumbo, what Remington does is help players recover from injuries.

He works with Terri Jo Rucinski, coordinator of the physical therapy clinic and staff athletic trainer for the team.

remingtonRucinski says student athletes who underwent surgeries in the fall seem to be bouncing back more quickly since Remington joined the team. “I’d like to think he had something to do with it,” she says.

Rucinski, who has worked with the team for 12 years, met Remington through paws4people, a Wilmington, N.C., nonprofit agency that places customized assistance dogs with clients at no cost.

He began his training when he was just 3-days-old. By 16 weeks, he was learning obedience and disabilities skills training. He also learned basic command sets, and knows more than 100 commands, including written commands from cue cards.

He joined the team last August after passing a series of certification tests.

What happens when you dress up for Halloween as your dog’s favorite chew toy

For your Halloween viewing pleasure we present a California dog named Jolene, coming face to face with a life-sized version of her favorite chew toy.

Jolene’s owner, Emily Crisp, thought it might be fun, for Halloween, to have her boyfriend, Ben Mesches, dress up in a Gumby costume.

He walks into the room as Jolene is enjoying some time with her Gumby chew toy. Jolene looks up and registers a look of what can only be described as wonder and amazement.

She cautiously, at first, approaches the life-sized Gumby, jumps up on him, and proceeds to go crazy with joy.

Mesches, of Petaluma, initially posted the video to his Facebook account. On YouTube, it has gotten, nearly 4 million views in two weeks.

Happy Halloween, Jolene, and everybody else.

Can a dog love doggy day care too much?

For a doggy daycare operation, word-of-mouth is generally considered the best advertisement for bringing in new customers.

But this may be the most golden recommendation of all.

rileyIn North Carolina, a dog named Riley apparently loves his daycare so much he ran away from home one day last week, walked a mile to get there, and sat patiently outside the front door.

“Someone walked in the door and they said there’s a dog sitting out here waiting to come in,” said Happy Dogs Café owner Teresa McCarter.

McCarter opened the door and in came Riley, a golden retriever who, though he is a frequent customer, wasn’t scheduled for a visit that day.

Riley immediately ran back to the daycare area to greet at least 20 of his canine friends.

Riley’s owner, Tonia Mosteller, said she and Riley had driven past the daycare earlier in the day. Riley whimpered when he saw some of his friends being walked by a staff member. Back at home, she put him in the back yard and left to run some errands.

“I noticed Riley watching me carefully as I left, but I didn’t think too much about it,” Mosteller told WBTV.

Somehow, Riley managed to unlatch the gate. Because Mosteller often walks him to the daycare in downtown Belmont, he knew the way there.

The daycare owner said she looked around for Riley’s owner when she opened the door for him before figuring out “he just decided to put himself in daycare that day.”

Happy Dogs called Mosteller to let her know Riley was there, but they recommended she let him stay for the day — at no charge.

“He got a free day of daycare and he worked really hard for that day,” McCarter said.

(Photo: Courtesy of Happy Dogs Cafe)

(Editor’s note: The video above is going to continue to bring you other stories. You might want to shut it off upon completion.)

May your Thanksgiving be golden

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By way of wishing you a happy Thanksgiving, we present this photo — and offer our thanks to the photographer, and his dog, Bailey, who posed not once but six times.

Bailey played all six roles for the re-creation of this family scene.

The photos were taken by her owner, John Nebbia, of Omaha, Nebraska. Photoshop probably deserves some credit too.

The image appears to show a holiday gathering of six different dogs, but they are all Bailey, who was decked out in six different wardrobes.

“We just moved her from chair to chair and gave her a break in between shots,” Nebbia told the Huffington Post. “When she was in the position, we were snapping a few pictures every second.”

It took about 40 minutes to shoot and about an hour to edit, he said.

Nebbia posted the photo on Bailey’s Facebook page.

Bailey is also the star of a 2016 calendar featuring some of Bailey’s best poses. It can be ordered at GoldenBailey.com.

Nebbia also put together a video showing what was involved in making the Thanksgiving photo:

Woman and her guide dog are reunited

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A legally blind woman and her guide dog have been reunited after recovering from injuries they received when they were hit by a school bus in New York.

“Oh, my good boy. You’re home, finally,” Audrey Stone exclaimed upon greeting her golden retriever, Figo, in the driveway of her home in Brewster, about 60 miles north of Manhattan.

Figo got in between Stone and an oncoming minibus in June as they crossed a street a block from her home.

Stone spent months in a rehabilitation hospital. Figo underwent surgery and went back to his trainers for a determination of whether he could work as a guide dog again.

As of Monday, he is back on duty.

Figo, who had been Stone’s guide dog for more than six years, leaped to put himself between her and the oncoming bus, then stuck by her side until help arrived.

“Basically, he would have died for me, doing what he did,” said Stone, who suffered a broken ankle, elbow and ribs and needed stitches in her head. Figo had a serious gash in one of his legs, according to the Associated Press.

On top of being reunited with Stone, Figo will be receiving the Dog of the Year award from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“We’re tremendously proud of Figo, who really did show a great deal of bravery,” said Wells Jones, of the Smithtown-based Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind. Figo was the third dog the organization had placed with Stone.

Stone says she’s happy to have him back.

“You feel better with a dog,” she said.

(Photo: By Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Woman sees a message in her dog’s ashes

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Allow us to be the first website on the planet to present this photo without sensationalizing or making any judgments.

Ashley Lang, of Chicago, took the ashes of her golden retriever, Wagner, to his favorite park to spread them.

A friend went along and, at the moment Lang released the ashes, the friend snapped this photo with her iPhone.

In the photo, especially after the color saturation was increased, a misty silhouette can be seen.

To Lang, and others, the cloud of ashes looks much like Wagner, who died at age 12.

“It’s pretty remarkable … the tail and the legs and he looks like he’s, you know, leaping to go up,” Lang is quoted as saying by CBS in Chicago. “Everyone keeps calling him the angel dog.”

We think … well it doesn’t matter what we think.

What matters is what Lang thinks — and to her it was Wagner’s way of saying goodbye.

(Photo courtesy of Ashley Lang)