A pit bull mix, she served as an unofficial helper to her owner, a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder. But when he moved to a new apartment, Layla, lacking documentation as a service dog, wasn’t allowed to live there.
Tim McGill began working to get Layla certified, and in the meantime asked some friends to look after his 3-year-old dog.
Now McGill has gotten the certification, but he can’t get his dog back.
McGill served in the Army in South Korea and Iraq and left the service with a brain injury, anxiety and flashbacks, KDKA in Pittsburgh reports.
A doctor recommended a dog, and — though Layla wasn’t a certified service dog — having her by his side helped, said McGill, a tattoo artist.
McGill says he moved to a Lawrenceville apartment to go to the Art Institute, but that, without any documentation that Layla was a service dog, she wasn’t permitted to live there.
So he asked a friend, Laura Stratemier, to watch over Layla until he could get her certified. In exchange, he offered to repay her with free tattoos for both her and her husband.
Stratemier admits she was only supposed to have Layla for two weeks, but said that as time went by — six months worth of it — she realized the dog was better off with her.
By the time the certification papers for the dog came through McGill, Stratemier was unwilling to give Layla back.
KDKA reports that local animal control officials are looking into the dispute.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 1st, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, apartment, certification, certified, custody, dispute, dog, dogs, Laura Stratemier, layla, mix, move, ownership, pets, pit bull, pittsburgh, post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, service, tattoo artist, tattoos, therapy, tim mcgill
There’s a new counselor on the staff at Loyola University in Chicago, and he’s helping students cope with everything from homesickness to the stress of final exams.
He’s a 5-year-old black Labrador retriever, named Tivo, and he’s on duty every day at the university’s Wellness Center.
Seeing a need for a therapy dog, Loyola last year asked Tops Kennels in Grayslake to help find a candidate. The kennel suggested Tivo, who, after some additional training, became a certified therapy dog.
He’s on duty from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m, and lives with the Rev. Justin Daffron, Loyola’s associate provost for academic services.
Already immensely popular with students, college officials expect Tivo to stay busy in the week ahead, the Chicago Tribune reports. Final exams start today at Loyola, and Tivo has a way of helpling students, at least for a moment, shed some of the stress that builds up.
“They’ll come in, pet him, he’ll wag his tail, lick their faces, if they want their faces licked,” said Joan Holden, associate director of the center. “If you’re a dog lover, being with a dog makes you feel better. He’ll show his tummy, wag his tail — all the things to make you feel good.”
But Tivo doesn’t just sit in an office all day, according to an article about him in Inside Loyola.
“We use Tivo with patients for calming, for outreach in the residence halls, and to be sent out with a human counselor in hopes that students can come and pet the dog as a way to connect with the Wellness Center outside the office,” says Diane Asaro, the center’s director. “It is our first time trying it, and he has already gotten such a positive and wonderful response.”
Tivo also serves as a surrogate pet to the many students who are missing the dogs they left behind, noted David deBoer, associate director and clinical psychologist at the Wellness Center.
“Tivo really serves as a comfort, pleasure, and joy for college students; a friendly reminder of the comforts of home,” he said.
Students can keep track of where “Talk With Tivo” sessions are being held through his Facebook page.
(Photo: Tivo gives some counseling to student Marc Rosenbaum; by Mark Beane / Loyola University Chicago)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 29th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, chicago, colleges, counseling, dog, dogs, exams, final, homesickness, labrador, loyola, pets, retriever, stress, students, talk with tivo, therapy, therapy dogs, tivo, universities, university, wellness center
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 jwoestendiek 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
Fifteen-year-old Teagan Marti met the dog yesterday — an English golden retriever who her family has named Charlie, after the actor who’s funding the puppy’s training.
Sheen wired $10,000 to the family in February after a family friend helped contacted him for help.
Teagan, who hopes to become a veterinarian, traveled with her family from Florida to Milwaukee for the visit, according to the Associated Press.
Charlie the dog is being trained in the Fond du Lac area and will be given to Teagan in September for her birthday.
Teagan suffered brain, spine, pelvis and internal injuries when she fell more than 100 feet from the ride while vacationing with her family at Wisconsin Dells.
While initially paralyzed, she can now walk with a walker. You can learn more about Charlie (the dog) and Teagan’s road to recovery at the website Miracles4Teagan.com.
(Photo: Teagan, left, smiles at Charlie, her future therapy dog, as Lynne Sears, a nurse who helped treat Teagan, holds the pup; by Carrie Antlfinger / Associated Press)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 12th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, actor, animals, charlie sheen, companion, dog, dogs, florida, golden retriever, paralyzed, pets, recovery, teagan marti, teen, teenager, therapy, wisconsin dells
Jordan Biggs, the Oregon State University student who found a dog on the loose in Portland, took him home, and refused to give him back to his owner, is on the verge of giving up her fight for custody of the husky mix she named Bear.
The Portland Oregonian reports that Biggs, – facing $30,000 worth of legal bills and a possible felony conviction — has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of second-degree theft, serve 80 hours of community service, and concede that the dog is not hers.
If she meets those conditions, the charge would be expunged from her record after six months, allowing the 20-year-old to continue with her plans to become a teacher.
Biggs was visiting Portland when she found the dog and took him home to Corvallis.
More than a year later, the dog’s original owner, Sam Hanson-Fleming, spotted Biggs and the dog he knew as Chase in Southeast Portland.
County animal control officials ruled that the dog belonged to Hanson-Fleming, who said his dog had jumped a fence and run away. But Biggs still refused to relinquish custody of the dog.
In July of last year, police in Corvallis seized the dog and charged Biggs with theft. Bear, or Chase, spent 75 days in a shelter after that — until a judge in October ordered the dog returned to Hanson-Fleming.
Biggs filed a lawsuit seeking to regain custody of the dog, who she trained to serve as an asthma therapy dog, alerting her to oncoming asthma attacks. As part of her plea agreement, the lawsuit would be dropped.
Both Biggs and Hanson-Fleming find the apparent outcome of the case less than acceptable.
“There is no way she should not have to have this on her record — she’s a thief,” Hanson-Fleming said. “It’s no different than if you went to Walmart and stole a bunch of shirts. … She should be treated like any other criminal.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 30th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: agreement, animals, asthma, bear, chase, corvallis, courts, custody, deal, dispute, dog, dogs, found, husky, jordan biggs, judge, lost, mix, oregon, oregon state university, owner, pets, plea, portland, sam hanson-fleming, student, therapy
As early as this summer, the Yamhill County District Attorney’s office may take possession of the state’s first “courthouse dog.”
District Attorney Brad Berry received word in December that the county is in line to receive the dog from Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit organization in Santa Rosa, California.
Courthouse dogs sit beside witnesses who might be reluctant or fearful, such as victims of child abuse, and help provide a calm and reassuring presence during stressful situations.
“It takes just a few minutes of observing one of these amazing dogs with a victim to understand what an extraordinary benefit it is,” Berry said. “Watching as the dog lays its head on a child’s lap — the child almost unconsciously stroking it — while talking about difficult topics, leaves no doubt as to the soothing effect this can have.”
Courthouse dogs are also on the job in several other states.
Berry said the county has been told it could receive a dog sometime between May and August.
“We have worked diligently to show CCI (Canine Companions for Independence) not only the need for such an amazing animal in Yamhill County, but that we are ready to receive one and immediately put it to use with victims of crime, especially the most vulnerable victims in our system.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 30th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, brad berry, calming, canine companions for independence, child abuse, court, courthouse dogs, district attorney, dogs, oregon, pets, support, testimony, therapy, victims, witnesses, yamhill county
As my soon-to-be 89-year-old father continues on a long uphill road to recovery, there’s a dog helping him get there.
Somehow, that makes me — being, until last week, on the other side of the country – feel more comfortable.
More important, I’m guessing it makes him — being a hard core dog lover — feel more that way, too, as well as more motivated, and more at home in a strange place.
I’ve long argued that most every kind of facility where humans are gathered needs at least one dog — be it prison or school, be it office or shop, be it assisted living center, group home or skilled nursing center.
So I was thrilled when I learned my Dad was working with a therapist with a dog, and even more thrilled, when I arrived in Phoenix for a week-long visit, to get a chance to meet them in person and watch them in action.
My dad became ill last year, entering a hospital with stomach problems and suffering a heart attack while there that would lead to an induced coma of several weeks.
Once he came out of it, he had to relearn things like eating and walking, and — having a lot more fight in him than most people — he made great progress during his stay in a skilled nursing facility in Mesa called Mission Palms. His recovery was so quick and so surprising the facility did a write-up on him in its monthly newsletter: “William Woestendiek’s Success Story.”
After several weeks there, he moved on to an assisted living center.
There, unfortunately, he regressed, to the point he was returned to the same skilled nursing facility, where he was fortunate enough to be assigned to a therapist named Cristina, and her dog, Henry Higgins.
Henry, now about a year and half, has been working at Mission Palmsy since he was three months old, and the first thing I noticed about him was how he made everyone’s face light up upon seeing him, both patients and staff, and definitely my father’s.
For starters, they played some fetch, which required my father hoisting himself out of his wheelchair and throwing a tennis ball. My father did the work, but I think the anticipation on Henry’s face — as he sat there looking at him, patiently waiting — provided the encouragement.
After that, a putting green was hauled out and my father tried to sink some putts, as Henry looked on.
Henry is a pointer-setter mix, with long brown hair from his tail to the top of his head, but short hair on his muzzle. Cristina, who chose him from a friend’s litter, said “he was the biggest, ugliest one, just a big huge fur ball.” Out of all the pups, she said, he seemed the most sociable and interested in humans. You can see Henry’s Facebook page here.
I know surgeons and doctors probably deserve most of the thanks, and are the main reason my father is still around. I know too that nurses — and he’s been fortunate to have some exceptional ones — can make all the difference in the world in times like this.
But as for right now, amid all other uncertainties, as my father spends at least a couple more weeks at Mission Palms, I’m probably most grateful that he’s in the capable hands of a caring therapist and an encouraging dog
(Photos: Courtesy of Henry)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 28th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bill woestendiek, dogs, facility, health, henry, henry higgins, illness, medicine, pets, recovery, skilled nursing, therapy, therapy dogs, william woestendiek
Having no front legs didn’t stop Kandu from getting around. And it didn’t stop him from becoming a therapy dog. Maybe it even made him a better one.
It was seven years ago that Ken Rogers and his wife Melissa, of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, saw a piece on the news about a dog missing his front legs who was in need of a home.
They adopted him, and didn’t stop there, taking in other disabled dogs and a handicapped cat.
“We tend to adopt pets with disabilities and do everything we can to try to help them,” Ken Rogers told KUSA, which reported on the amazing dog in Januray..
Now both Kandu and Lucy, who also lacks front legs, make regular visits to the Yampa Valley Medical Center, where Melissa works, to bring hope to the lives of others — as shown in the video above, by the good news website, HooplaHa,
Seeing their determination, the couple decided both dogs would make great therapy dogs.
“It shows people if this dog can do it, you can do it too,” Melissa said.
“We don’t think they’re any different than any other dog,” said Ken. Kandu proves that regularly, living up to his name.
“… Nothing’s going to stop him,” he said.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 3rd, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, attitude, can do, colorado, devices, disabilities, disabled, dog, dogs, kandu, ken rogers, legs, melissa rogers, no front legs, pets, steamboat springs, therapy, therapy dogs, Yampa Valley Medical Center
A team of golden retrievers has arrived in Newtown, Conn., to comfort those impacted by the recent school massacre.
About ten therapy dogs, part of a Lutheran Church Charities program, made the 800-mile journey from Chicago over the weekend, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“Dogs are non-judgmental. They are loving. They are accepting of anyone,” said Tim Hetzner, president of the Addison-based organization. “It creates the atmosphere for people to share.”
Their first stop Sunday was Christ the King Lutheran Church, where funerals for two of the slain children were being held this week.
The dogs are made available to residents who want to pet them while they talk or pray.
“You could tell which ones …were really struggling with their grief because they were quiet,” Hetzner said. “They would pet the dog, and they would just be quiet.”
Dogs in the program most commonly visit people in hospitals and nursing homes. Each has his or her own Facebook page, Twitter account or email address, allowing those they meet to stay in touch. You can find the list of dogs who made the trip on the Lutheran Charities website.
The program also has a Facebook page.
The comfort-dog initiative started in 2008 at Northern Illinois University when a group associated with the charity brought their dogs to campus after a gunman shot five students before taking his own life.
Since then it has grown to 60 dogs in six different states.
The program’s dogs have responded to other disasters, including Hurricane Sandy and the tornado that hit Joplin, Mo.
Hetzner said the dogs would be available to Sandy Hook Elementary School students for after-school activities.
(Photos: Lutheran Church Charities)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 18th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, calming, children, comfort, comfort dogs, disasters, dogs, effects, elementary school, grief, guns, impact, loss, lutheran church charities, massacre, newtown, pet, pets, pray, sandy hook, schoolchildren, schools, talk, therapy, therapy dogs, tim hetzner
Gabriel, a weimaraner, passed away more than two years ago, but the therapy dog organization named after him, Gabriel’s Angels, is going strong.
In the 12 years since it was formed, consisting only of Gabriel, the organization has grown to 160 human-animal teams, and the dogs have visited more than than 13,000 abused, neglected and at-risk children, according to a story worth reading in this week’s Arizona Republic.
Gabriel’s Angels got its start about a year after Pam Gaber got the weimaraner pup.
She was volunteering at Crisis Nursery in central Phoenix, and every Friday she’d share photos and tales about her dog with the children.
For a holiday party, she brought Gabriel along with her for the first time, and dressed him as a reindeer. She noticed more smiles, more laughs and a greater sense of calm among the children. Recognizing the benefits a dog could offer them, she searched for a therapy dog group specializing in working with at-risk children. Finding none, she created her own.
A neighbor heard about it, and Gabriel’s Angels soon had its second therapy dog — a golden retriever named Sugarbear. A few months after that, they were joined by Auska, a bouvier des Flandres. By 2002, Gabriel’s Angels had 25 teams in the field; a year later, that number had doubled.
Today it has a waiting list of agencies requesting weekly visits — more than can be accomplished on its budget.
Gabriel’s legacy lives on, both through the organization, and the book Gaber wrote in 2011, ”Gabriel’s Angels: The Story of The Dog Who Inspired a Revolution.”
Gabriel’s Angels works to teach children confidence, tolerance and respect. As the Arizona Republic story recounts, much of that could be seen during a visit one of Gabriel’s successors, Tucker, paid to Crisis Nursery, whose education manager Cindy English, pointed out:
“Even children who have withdrawn behind walls of their own making — perhaps necessary to survive — will start to emerge in the safety of a friendly, lovable animal … These kids have been hurt or lied to by adults. But around an animal, they show love and caring. For some it might be the very first meaningful connection they make.”
Posted by jwoestendiek November 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, arizona, at risk children, children, crisis nursery, dog, dogs, gabriel, gabriel's angels, pam gaber, pets, phoenix, therapy, therapy dogs, weimaraner