Tag: therapy dog
I generally dislike celebrities, often for no other reason than they are a celebrity.
Carrie Fisher was an exception — and an exceptional one.
Maybe it was her well-known compassion for dogs. Maybe it was her outspokenness and wry wit, or her droopy-tongued therapy dog, Gary, or the fact that she was batshit crazy.
(Batshit crazy isn’t a term you usually find in a remembrance, but somehow I don’t think she would mind.)
Fisher, who starred as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, died on Tuesday after a heart attack. She was 60.
Gary, the French bulldog, was at her side in the hospital during her last days.
His (fan-written) Twitter page contained the following post yesterday:
Gary, a therapy dog who helped Fisher cope with bipolar disorder, accompanied her just about everywhere in her later years. She brought the pet along on interviews, and he became something of a celebrity in his own right.
TMZ reports that Gary, now 4, will be cared for by Carrie’s daughter, Billie Lourd.
Gary also accompanied Fisher to what was her final appearance in behalf of a dog-related cause — a protest against China’s dog meat festival.
In June, Fisher and Gary joined a protest against the Yulin Dog Meat Festival outside the Chinese embassy in London, at which a petition signed by more than 11 million people was presented, demanding a ban on the annual event.
“There is so much animal suffering in the world, and much of it you feel helpless to end, but stopping the Yulin dog meat festival and ending all that suffering is easy,” Fisher said.
“All the Chinese authorities need to do is declare it shut down, and the killing stops … These poor dogs need us to fight for them. Every single one of them is as precious as my dear Gary.”
In 2013, when Gary was one year old, Fisher told the Herald Tribune, “Gary is like my heart. Gary is very devoted to me, and that calms me down. He’s anxious when he’s away from me.”
Clearly, the reverse was also true.
Fisher, who was the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and the actress Debbie Reynolds, was an actor, author and screenwriter, and was outspoken about animal welfare, mental health issues and pretty much anything else.
“I think in my mouth, so I don’t lie,” she said in one interview. Unlike most celebrities, she didn’t hide behind a glittery facade. She let the public see the real her — warts, troubles, wrinkles (when they arrived) and all
In her book, Wishful Drinking, she wrote that she wanted her obituary to report that “I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra” — a scenario inspired by director George Lucas telling her people didn’t wear underwear in space, for it would strangle them.
In interviews, she generally laid herself bare, held nothing back and spoke her mind in a manner both fearless and funny.
Here she is on a recent Good Morning America segment, with Gary of course:
Posted by John Woestendiek December 29th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, bipolar disorder, carrie fisher, celebrity, death, died, dog meat festival, dogs, french bulldog, gary, heart attack, mental health, pets, princess leia, remembering, star wars, therapy dog, yulin
The University of Southern California has added a new staff member at its student health center, and he’s already making people feel better.
Professor Beauregard Tirebiter is a black, two-year-old goldendoodle.
After witnessing the positive effects visiting therapy dogs had on students, university officials decided they should have one based in the student health center full time.
The addition of Beau to the staff makes USC one of the few universities in the United States with a full-time “facility dog” on staff, USC News reported.
We applaud the university for that — but not for the label “facility dog.”
Surely all the great minds at that institution could have come up with a better term than that.
As the university Office for Wellness and Health Promotion explained it,
“a facility dog is similar to a therapy dog, but rather than being trained to work periodically with individuals, he’s trained to work with a multitude of people on a regular basis in a facility such as a hospital, school or nursing home.”
Why not just call him what he is, a therapy dog? There should be no stigma attached to that, and no need to tiptoe around it. Everybody needs therapy, especially a student, particularly during finals.
Calling him a “facility dog” is pretty vague. Defining him by the building he works in, as opposed to his job/mission, is a little insulting, like the term “junkyard dog.”
And “facility” is so similar to “faculty” that some hastily compiled news reports are calling him the latter.
Beau did come to campus with a curriculum vitae, though. He was trained at Canine Angels Service Teams in Oregon.
He has office hours, and his own business cards, and paw prints lead students to his location at the Engemann Student Health Center.
He was purchased with money from a donation by the Trojan League of Los Angeles, an alumni group, to promote student wellness.
Beau has been on campus for a few weeks now. He goes home at night with Amanda Vanni, his handler and a health promotion specialist at the center.
In hiring Beau, the university seems to be acknowledging all the research that shows dogs can help decrease stress, create a sense of calm and well being, and that contact with them can increase serotonin, beta-endorphin and oxytocin – chemicals and hormones that make people happy.
Paula Lee Swinford, director of the Office of Wellness and Health Promotion, said Beau will also help create a sense of community at USC.
“We wanted to do something that would change our culture,” she said. “What Beau brings is a consistent relationship for students. … He will remember them.”
Speaking of culture change, the university might want to take another look at its antiquated policy that bans dogs from classrooms, university housing, offices and research areas because they can be “disruptive as well as unsanitary.”
(Photos by Gus Ruelas / USC)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 23rd, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, beauregard tirebiter, benefits, campus, canine angels, dog, dogs, engemann, facility dog, golden doodle, goldendoodle, health, health center, pet policy, pets, students, terminology, therapy dog, trojan league, university of southern california, usc
He was a well-traveled dog who loved the road more than anything, except maybe you and me.
He was a survivor of Baltimore’s less tender side who was picked up as a stray, placed in a city shelter, found a home with some writer guy and went on to become a therapy dog and minor celebrity.
He was the subject of a five-part newspaper series examining his roots, a book (unpublished and unfinished), the inspiration for this website, and my reason for being.
And now the hardest words I’ve ever written: Ace is dead.
Last week, he was frolicking in the woods. This week, he slowed down to a state near lethargy and showed little interest in eating, and in the past two days he began swelling up — mostly in the belly region.
Having recovered from his recent bladder surgery, he was the same dog he always was — until Monday night when he came inside showing no interest in his nightly treat.
The vet’s diagnosis was congestive heart failure and possible tumors — hemangiosarcoma.
Blood was not getting to his liver, and fluids were pooling up inside.
Based on Ace’s age (nearly 12, a good 90 in human years for a dog of his size), based on the poor outlook in either case, or the even worse outlook in the case of both, and based on his apparent discomfort, the vet recommended putting him down.
When I asked for some time to think about it, the vet said that wasn’t a good idea. When I asked to take Ace home and bring him back today, he said that wasn’t a good idea, either.
So we took an hour before the deed was to be done. We started walking. It started raining. It was taking all of his effort to keep up with me, and I (being a fellow member of the congestive heart failure club) walk pretty darn slow.
We stopped at a Domino’s and sat on the pavement under an overhang. I bought him a small cheese pizza — his favorite food. He took two bites, but only because I insisted.
We stopped in the rain on the way back. I briefly debated whether I was doing the right thing. I held his head in my hands, rested my head on his and looked into his eyes. I could still see the love in them, but not the joy.
Back at the vet, on the floor with his head in my lap, the vet administered a sedative. Ace was soon snoring. Once the lethal injection was administered, his heartbeat slowed within minutes and then, around 6 p.m. Thursday, stopped.
I’ll get his ashes in a week or so, and I’ll spread them in Black Walnut Bottoms, the trail in Bethania he loved.
Having written a lot about dogs and death, I thought I’d be better prepared for this. But I’m a wreck.
In answer to one of the questions asked a lot over the years, no — a resounding NO! — he will not be cloned. Having written a book on dog cloning, people ask that of me. Clearly, they never read the book.
In 2011, Ace and I set off on a trip duplicating the route John Steinbeck took in “Travels with Charley.”
It ended up lasting a year, and covering 27,000 miles. I think I speak for both of us when I say it was the time of our lives.
“Travels with Ace” didn’t interest any publishers, but it will hang around on the Internet — at least until my time comes.
I still need to finish the last chapter, but I can promise you this:
In the book, Ace won’t die.
(Photos: Top, Ace at Salvation Mountain in California; Ace at the Bandera County Courier in Texas; Ace and John (photo by Brendan Finnerty); Ace with a bust of John Steinbeck in Monterey, California)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 20th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace is dead, animals, baltimore, baltimore sun, barcs, dead, death, died, dies, dog, dogs, goodbye, heart failure, hemangiosarcoma, inspiration, lethal injection, muse, obit, obituary, ohmidog!, pets, put down, stray, therapy dog, travels with ace, tumors, veterinary
An autistic boy has gotten his service dog back — and, with her, a little bit of himself, according to his mother.
“I’ve already seen him coming out and expressing himself again and being verbal,” Michele Carlisle said after her son Zach reunited with Delilah, the service dog that was lost, placed in a shelter and adopted out to another home.
“He started talking and he was talking to her the whole way home, and I was like, ‘Oh my God! He’s back. Zach’s back!'”
The Humane Society of Tampa Bay announced Friday on its Facebook page that Zach and Delilah had been reunited after eight months apart.
Last August, shortly after the Carlisle family moved from Alabama to Brandon, Florida, Delilah — Zach’s service dog for six years — ran off.
She was found without identification and taken to the humane society’s shelter, where, four days later, another family adopted her.
Michele Carlisle — though she’d been checking shelters in the weeks after Delilah disappeared — learned later that a photo of the dog had appeared on the humane society’s website months earlier.
When the humane society learned it had accidentally adopted out a service dog, it contacted Delilah’s new family, but the family declined to return her, saying she had bonded with her new family in the months they’d been together.
But WTSP reported that after seeing news reports on the boy’s difficulty coping without Delilah, they changed their mind and decided Delilah should be with him.
Zach has autism and suffers from seizures. Delilah serves as his therapy dog, alerting the family to upcoming seizures, comforting Zach and helping him overcome his social anxiety and tendency not to speak.
When the two were reunited at the humane society, Zach, 8, was talking plenty: “Is it her?” he whispered to his mother. “It is! Oh, my God… Best day ever.”
Delilah, newly equipped with a microchip, sniffed Zach, jumped up on him and licked his face.
According to his mother, Zach doesn’t often speak to people around him, but freely shares his feeling with Delilah.
Michele Carlisle thanked the family for returning her.
” … I really do appreciate them doing the right thing and coming forward and bringing her back, so that we could be reunited because that was huge,” she said.
“They never wanted to take a dog from a family that needed it,” said Dr. Nicole Cornett, the veterinarian for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. “They just felt that with everything that happened that it would be in the dog’s best interest and in Zach’s best interest to give them back.”
You can see a video of the reunion here.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 4th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animals, autism, delilah, dog, dogs, florida, humane society, humane society of tampa bay, michele carlisle, pets, returned, reunion, seizures, service dog, shelters, therapy dog, zach, zack
Seinfeld lives on in more than just reruns.
And if you don’t believe me, just take a look at some of the dog news in recent weeks.
Up in Alaska, on Tuesday, a sled dog named George Costanza led his team to victory in the Yukon Quest.
Down in South Africa, a dog surrendered by an owner who found him “yucky” has found a new home with a TV producer who renamed him Newman.
And in California, a missing therapy dog named Kramer was reunited with his owner after he went missing two months ago.
That’s quite a run (or rerun) of dogs with Seinfeld-related names making the news — and proof that good TV shows, like our memory of good dogs, never fade away.
George Costanza, an 8-year-old, is “a bit of a ham,” winning musher Hugh Neff told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner after the 1,000-mile race.
Neff finished the race in 9 days, 1 hour and 25 minutes on the trail — the fourth fastest time in race history — even though George Costanza got distracted near the finish line and stopped to lead the team over to meet a local dog on the sidelines.
But things got so busy at the office that day the vet didn’t have time to do it, and the vet’s secretary called a rescue group in an effort to save the corgi mix, who was malnourished and had a broken leg.
The founder of the rescue group turned to social media in an effort to save the dog, then being called Nik Nak, from lethal injection.
A temporary home in Cape Town was found and, after a week, it became permanent.
“He is fitting in quite nicely. He is very chilled and relaxed,” Kamilla Nurock told News24.
Nurock, a TV producer, said she named her new companion after Jerry’s nemesis in Seinfeld.
Social media also played a role in reuniting Kramer with his owner, Nik Glaser. Kramer disappeared while being cared for by an acquaintance when Glaser was on a trip to Seattle. For two months, Glaser, who has anxiety issues, searched Los Angeles for his therapy dog before he moved to Seattle at the end of January.
Soon after that he heard, through social media, about a similar dog who ended up in a Los Angeles shelter. It turned out to be Kramer and the two were reunited earlier this month:
(Top photo: Hugh Neff hugs George Costanza at the Yukon Quest finish line, by Erin Corneliussen / Fairbanks News-Miner)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 18th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, costanza, dog names, dogs, found, george costanza, kramer, los angeles, memories, missing, names, newman, pets, reruns, rescue, reunion, seinfeld, shelters, show, sled dog, south africa, television, therapy dog, yukon quest
Elle, a 5-year-old pit bull who helps children become more confident about reading, has been named the 2103 Hero Dog by the American Humane Association.
But it wasn’t just her listening skills that won her the honor. She also helps teach children about dog safety, and overcoming prejudice and stereotypes – “something a pit bull knows too much about,” the association noted in announcing the award.
The therapy dog and her owner started a reading program called “Tail Wagging Tales” that helps students at two North Carolina schools — Vaughan Elementary in Macon and Chaloner Middle School in Roanoke Rapids — become stronger readers. Students take turns reading out loud to Elle for 20 minutes.
“She provides confidence for students and a comforting ear,” Leah Brewer, 42, told TODAY.com.
Elle and the other finalists for the American Humane Association award attended a ceremony Saturday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. It will air as a 90-minute special on the Hallmark Channel on Oct. 30.
After a six-month natonwide search, 141 dogs from across the country were nominated. More than one million Americans cast votes for the eight finalists online. Those results, along with the choices of a panel of celebrity judges and animals activists, were combined to determine the winner.
Among other nominees were Carlos, an explosive detector dog who worked in Iraq and Afghanistan; John D, a rescue dog who uses his scenting capabilities to detect cancer in patients; Cassidy, a three-legged dog who visits rehabilitation centers to comfort children with disabilities; and Lola, a rescued guide dog who connects her deaf owner to the surrounding world.
“Choosing a top dog is difficult because they are all so terrific, but we are proud to announce Elle as the top American Hero Dog for 2013,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association.
“As an organization that for years has fought breed-specific legislation (BSL), we are also pleased to honor a breed that has been often been unjustly maligned. We hope that Elle’s story will help to underscore the many tremendously positive qualities of this breed.”
(Photo: American Humane Association)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 8th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2013 hero dogs, aide, american humane association, animals, assistance, awards, carlos, cassidy, ceremony, disability, dog, dogs, elle, guide, hallmark, helps, hero dog awards, image, leah brewer, lola, macon, maligned, misconceptions, north carolina, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, reading, rescue, roanoke rapids, robin ganzert, special, stereotypes, students, tail wagging tales, therapy, therapy dog, working dogs
For as long as it keeps ticking, and however strong the attachments it already has are, it’s capable of finding new things to adore.
Which brings us to this sordid tale — one that is also partly uplifting, and, if you want to be all technical about it, also partly shoplifting.
My dog Ace has always been No. 1 in the eyes of my father, a lifelong dog-lover.
My dad was able to quickly detect what a special beast Ace truly is. Watching them snuggle on his couch when we visited always made my insides glow.
For years now, the first thing my father asks when he calls has always been, “How’s Ace?” The first thing he asked me when he came out of a coma, that followed a heart attack, that followed some stomach surgery, was “How’s Ace?” When I visited him in Arizona a few months ago, without Ace, the first thing he asked was, “Where’s Ace?”
Since his lengthy hospitalization, my dad has mostly resided in a skilled nursing facility in Mesa, where, at one point, he was having physical therapy sessions with a dog named Henry, who belongs to one of the therapists. While those sessions are no longer part of his daily regimen, he still sees Henry — full name Henry Higgins — regularly, and apparently they’ve grown quite attached.
According to my sources, after dinner one night last week, my father rolled into the therapy gym unnoticed and snuck off with a photo of Henry that hangs there, planning on taking it back to his sparsely furnished room. It was reportedly his second attempt to steal the framed photo. After getting caught the first time, rolling along the hallway with the picture in his lap, he stuffed it under his shirt the second time.
I found this news upsetting — not because my father was engaging in larcenous behavior, but because I’ve done my best to keep Ace first and foremost in his mind. I’ve made sure his room had a “Travels with Ace” calendar. For his birthday, I sent him a sweatshirt with a giant photo of Ace emblazoned on the front. I’ve supplied him — even though my father’s not doing any traveling — with an Ace travel mug.
For some reason, whatever else he forgets, even temporarily, I want him to remember Ace eternally.
I realize it is petty jealousy, and that it’s likely limited to me. Ace, in all probability, wouldn’t mind a bit that my father has another dog to entertain, comfort, calm, console and warm him.
And in truth, I am far more grateful than I am jealous when it comes to Henry, who I got to meet when I visited, and who is pretty special and wonderful himself.
On my dad’s 89th birthday, Henry was there; Ace and I weren’t.
I can understand my dad being smitten with Henry, and I’m glad he is. Dogs and love, if you ask me, are among the top five reasons to go on living. (The other three are books, music and pizza.)
It makes me want to get Ace — not to mention myself — out there for another visit.
Once he was confronted — when he was noticed, after the second attempted theft, with a bulge under his Maui t-shirt — my father confessed and revealed his ill-gotten bootie.
No charges were filed.
And the framed photo of Henry, according to Henry’s owner, will be placed in a new location:
My father’s room.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 22nd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, aging, animals, bill woestendiek, dog, dogs, elderly, henry, henry higgins, jealousy, love triangle, mesa, nursing, pets, photo, physical therapy, stolen, therapy, therapy dog, william woestendiek