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News: Editors
Hero Dog Better Than Nanny Cam

While a nanny cam might be a good idea to keep track of both a child and a caregiver, even better idea might to trust in your dog’s instincts. A couple in Charleston, S.C., learned about this the hard way. It was their dog Killian who alerted them to an abusive nanny they had hired for their young son, Finn.

Benjamin and Hope Jordan did a background check before they hired the babysitter for their 7-month-old son, Finn, last year. So they hired 22-year-old Alexis Khan, who seemed to be an attentive and loving sitter in her first five months at work. But the Jordans were concerned when their trusted calm, family dog, Killian, started acting strangely toward Khan.

“…we started to notice that our dog was very defensive of our son when she would come in the door,” Benjamin Jordan told the local TV WCSC TV’s Live 5. “He was very aggressive towards her and a few times we actually had to physically restrain our dog from going towards her.” Their dog had never reacted this way towards anyone before.

The parents were concerned and suspicious and decided to put an iPhone under the couch to record what was happening while they were at work.

“It started with cussing,” Jordan said. “Then you hear slap noises and his crying changes from a distress cry to a pain cry. I just wanted to reach through the audio tape, go back in time and just grab him up.

“To know that five months I had handed my child to a monster, not knowing what was going on in my house for that day…”

The Jordans called the police and Khan was taken into custody. Last Monday, she pleaded guilty for assault and battery in Charleston County Circuit Court. Khan will spend one to three years in prison and will be placed on a child abuse registry.

“That is fantastic news to us. To know that maybe Finn’s ordeal has possibly saved another child’s life in the future,” Mr. Jordan told Live 5. “Had our dog not alerted us to the trouble, had my wife’s instincts not said we need to make something happen, it could have been Finn that was killed by the babysitter. You never know.”

Don’t you think that this shows that every family with a babysitter also needs a doggy cam? Good work Killian!

 

News: Editors
Arizona Sheepdog
A Video Pick of the Week

I was rereading John Pilley’s Chaser, a must-read book about his dog, Chaser, the Border Collie who learned to distinguish over 1000 words. One of the aspects of the book I really enjoyed was his appreciation for Border Collie lore, with a nod to others, like Arthur Allen, the “grandfather of Border Collies,” who wrote the seminal Border Collies in America and went on to “star” in a 1955 Disney movie, Arizona Sheepdog. Pilley mentioned that it’s now available on YouTube, so I just watched it and want to recommend it to every dog lover. It’s my video “pick” of the week!

Granted it is a “staged” Disney film but what Nick and Rock, Allen’s dogs do on this film cannot be directed.  It was stunning to see how Nick herds a Navajo child’s pet chipmunk and then goes on to rescue sheep that have fallen into a fast moving river. These are amazing dogs who demonstrate that not only can they problem solve without supervision but they also work cooperatively with each other. This short film is a testament to Allen who has said, “I like a dog that is an individualist; one who thinks for himself and will act without orders.” As the film narrator says, Allen had no doubt that Nick would do his job and bring the sheep back to their flock. That is what they expected he would do and he did it. See it for yourself and let me know what you think.

 

Culture: DogPatch
Zuke’s—Living What They Believe
Finding a balance of work and play

Zuke’s began over a decade ago, when Patrick Meiering was hiking in the Colorado Mountains with his energetic dog, Zuke. Noticing that Zuke had become exhausted, Patrick broke off a piece of his energy bar and tossed it to him—Zuke perked right up. The idea that pets need healthy, all-natural treats was born at that moment. Today, Zuke’s offers a host of treats that are formulated with only natural ingredients providing the specific nutrients needed by dog and cats. The company embraces a healthy lifestyle of work and play, including a dog-friendly workplace—making them the perfect partner to sponsor The Bark’s Best Places to Work contest in 2013.

Tell us about Zuke’s office environment and an average day on the job …
Zuke’s offices went to the dogs a long time ago. In fact, they have really always belonged to the dogs. Zuke, a chocolate Lab who had the honor of being the company’s inspiration, namesake and mascot, was the first employee, setting the stage for over a decade of canine-inhabited cubicles and offices furnished with as many dog beds as chairs. Now, on any given day there are as many dogs as humans at work. They are welcome everywhere by everyone. During work hours, they are our taste testers, quality control experts, de-stressing specialists and relaxation authorities. On their breaks, which are frequent throughout the day, there is a beautiful creek that runs through the property with trees, grass and toys for the pups to enjoy. They are an integral part of our team, the reason we come to work each day and our reminder that life with dogs is the only way to live.

Is there an official dog policy in place?
Although there is no official policy in place, there is wide latitude given to all of Zuke’s canine employees. They can come to work whenever they want to, their humans can take a break at any time to feed, walk, play or care for them, and they are permitted to sleep on the job.

What is ownership/management’s view of allowing dogs in the workplace?
Living our lives with our dogs in tow is the Zuke’s lifestyle. From the top down, Zuke’s is guided by our passion for pets and our desire to show them our devotion. The management at Zuke’s honors this passion and upholds the values that make us a unique company. While having your loyal companion at your heels all day, everyday may be overwhelming to some, for us it’s a way to give back some of the unconditional love our dogs show us.

Can you give some specific examples of how the dogs add to the work environment in a positive way ....
Whether we are putting in long hours of overtime to develop the newest treat recipe or debating the best name for a new product line, our dogs help to diffuse the stress, lighten the mood, increase collaboration and restore our energy. Although, some of us go running with our dogs or play in the backyard during break times, it is really more about having a dog stroll through a meeting and rest his head on your lap for a quick pet or curl up under your desk as a sleepy sidekick. Their quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) presence is ingrained in the culture at Zuke’s and a great reminder of why we do what we do.

What are some of the tips and pointers you can offer a company who is looking to start a dog-friendly work policy?
We believe a dog-friendly workplace works best if it is embraced and promoted by management and human resources. Rules should be put in place to ensure the safety of the people and pets in the office and there must be a high level of respect and patience shown to the pets, their owners, and the non-pet-owners in the office. There will be the occasional accident and barking will become part of the background noise, but as long as all of the dogs are well-trained, confident, dog-friendly canines, it will be a fun place to work.

Though we are a pet products company and are thus unfairly biased, we believe that the positives outweigh the negatives for workplaces considering dogs. Aside from having a ready and willing taste test team on hand at all times, our management and employees universally believe that there are huge benefits to having canine coworkers.    

News: Editors
Beehive Detection Dog

Bazz, wearing his new bee-proof working gear, is Australia’s first apiary dog. Beekeeper Josh Kennett devised this suit so that his Lab, and working partner, Bazz could help sniff out a virulent bee disease, the American foulbrood.

Dogs can’t get near a hive of bees without being aggressively chased away. So Kennett got the idea to train Bazz from his American counterparts but in the U.S. the colder temperatures negate the need for protection.

“Their winters are far colder than ours, with snow over the top of beehives. We don't have that situation here in South Australia.

“So I’ve tried to develop a suit the dog can wear and hopefully avoid being stung.”

He also said that he tried a variety of prototypes because he wanted a suit that “doesn’t restrict him too much,” so had to do a lot of trial and error, especially with the head part.

After a long training period that was started by a professional detection dog trainer, and refined by Kennett to get Bazz used to the suit and to the hives, the beekeeper team is now ready to go

“We’ve now proven the concept, he can find the infected hives.

“To fully cover a dog up and expect it to do the same thing, it takes time to change how he behaves and to get used to that suit.”

 

Source: ABC Australia

 

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Take Your Dog to Work Day
Dog to the rescue
Breeze saving a pup

June 21 is “Take Your Dog to Work Day.” For those of us who treasure our dogs company, being able to have our companions with us on the job is such a bonus. I’ve been blessed as an animal control officer to be able to bring my girl Breeze, a rescued Doberman, with me to work. On a rough day in the field, just being able to reach over and stroke Breeze’s silky coat can make the day bearable. I provide a soft bed next to my desk when I’m in the office and she’s expected to lie there quietly while I work. Of course, sometimes when there are several employee dogs wanting to socialize, we do allow them a play break. In the truck, she snoozes between calls and gets a potty break when I take mine. She doesn’t leave the truck unless invited and I take every precaution to keep her safe.

When we have our dogs join us at work, It’s critical that they be clean and well-behaved, and that we protect them from well-meaning but pushy or in-your-face people. Make sure your dog is comfortable with strangers and always expect that people will do silly thing to dogs. Even the nicest dog can bite so make sure your dog is enjoying any attention from co-workers or customers.

An added bonus to having Breeze along is that sometimes a scared stray will come to another dog but not a person. If my offers of treats, sweet talk and toys haven’t done the trick with a loose dog, sometimes bringing Breeze out is all it takes. On a recent call, two 5-month-old hound mix pups were dumped far out on a rural road. Sadly, one pup was killed by a car the first day, while the terrified and traumatized littermate wouldn’t come anywhere near people. He had taken up residence in an empty shed, but the minute I pulled up he took off through the pasture toward the nearby forest. Breeze was sitting next to me on the seat watching the pup intently. I got permission from the property owner and then took Breeze into the pasture where the shed was. Breeze loves everyone and is sort of the social greeter with dogs and people everywhere she goes.

The pup stopped at the sight of Breeze. With his tucked tail and hunched posture, he was the picture of dejected loneliness. I unclipped Breezes leash and said “get the puppy, Breeze.” She raced across the pasture, eager to meet a new friend, while the pup watched warily. As she reached him his tail began to wag and he curled his body into a submissive gesture of appeasement as she gave him the sniff over. Feeling more confident, the pup began to kiss her muzzle and press himself as close to her as he could.

As soon as I could see that they were buddied up, I sat down in the grass to be less threatening and pulled out a handful of treats. I called to Breeze, who came running with the pup close behind. I gave Breeze a treat and tossed one to the pup who stopped just out of reach. His body language was still terribly afraid but he clearly wanted to trust.  Within minutes the pup worked his way close enough to take cookies out of my hand. In no time at all, he crawled into my lap, wiggling and wagging and soaking up the attention like he could never get enough. I slipped a leash on him but he immediately panicked. Obviously, he had never had one on so I scooped him up and carried him back to the truck with Breeze trotting by my side.

The hound pup was adopted soon after and he was just one of many examples of Breeze’s presence making my job easier.

 I’d love to hear from readers who also take their dogs to work. Tell us the best part of having your buddy along on the job (or the worst!).

 

 

Dog's Life: Work of Dogs
Meet the Store Dogs
Nashville’s finest bookstore has new workers.
Sparky and Lexington - Store Dogs

In the weeks before my business partner Karen Hayes and I opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, I would bring my 16-yearold dog Rose to the store. I folded her up inside her soft bed and then stretched her out in the warm sun that fell through the front window. She would sleep while I painted a cabinet or shelved books. Rose, who had once been a Chihuahua/Terrier mix, was now nothing but a limp little sock puppet of a dog, and I carried her with me everywhere. I wanted her to be a store dog. If I was going to have a bookstore, it seemed only right that Rose should have a job. I thought that she could stay in her bed by the cash register and people could pet her, but it didn’t work out that way. Having lived a long and happy life, Rose died two weeks after we opened.

The truth of the matter is that Rose, no matter how much I loved her, was not store-dog material. For one thing, she hated children, and while she almost never actually bit them, she could bark and lunge and snap without provocation. At times she could be so ferocious that children felt bitten without the actual bite. The only reason I even thought she might be able to be a store dog late in life was that she could no longer walk, and her sight and hearing were negligible. She just liked the petting, and the size of the hand running over her small flank didn’t matter anymore.

Karen thought the bookstore should have a piano, and so she got a piano. I thought the bookstore should have a dog, but now I didn’t have a dog, and I was too sad to go out and get another one.

So we hired a part-time dog, a sleek, short-haired Miniature Dachshund named Lexington who came in with our events manager, Niki Castle, once or twice a week. Lexington was from New York City, where she and Niki had lived before moving south. As a city dog, she was not afraid of crowds. She was used to strangers making over her. She was used to children getting in her face. Frankly, she liked children getting in her face. Her M.O. was to race around the store 10 times, greet everyone and then skid back into the office, where Niki would scoop her up and drop her into a sling she wore across her chest. There, in her pouch, Lexington napped. Twenty minutes later, she’d take off running again. It was the cycle of her day.

No one could complain about the job Lexington was doing. Children marched back to the office and demanded to see the Dachshund, and off she would go to the picture-book section. She did not gnaw on the spines of the books on lower shelves. She did not lose her temper, never once, when a small hand tried to keep her from her appointed nap by holding onto her tail. She was in every way top flight. But that didn’t mean I didn’t want my own store dog.

“We have a store,” my husband would say when he called about various shelter or foster-care dogs we had seen on the Internet. “Do you think he would be a good store dog?”

But if you don’t have a store, how can you know? How can you know if your dog can be trusted not to dart through the continually opening doors, or if he’ll jump up and grab a fluttering scarf, or have accidents in hidden corners, or bite a child—even one child, one child who may have been asking for it in every possible way. How do you know that dog when you see him?

It turns out my husband knew. The Friday afternoon we walked into the Nashville Humane Association and my husband saw Sparky, he knew. He leaned over and lifted him out of his pen. “This one,” he said, without looking at a single other dog.

After 16 wonderful years with Rose, it’s hard for me not to panic when I see a tiny child toddling towards my dog, fingers outstretched. But regardless of size, Sparky gives every customer a fullbody wag, then drops to the ground to show his spotted tummy. Most children then drop to the ground as well and together they roll around.

There are always children who are nervous around dogs, who look stiffly away as though they’re being addressed by a crazy person in the subway, but Sparky is never pushy. If ignored, he will sit for a minute and try to puzzle out the situation (Child doesn’t want to play?). Then, coming up with no logical explanation, he simply walks away. So what about Lexington? After all, she was here first. All I can say is that while there have been some high-speed chases, there has been no competition. We’re bookstore enough for two small dogs, one who looks like a tiny supermodel, the other who resembles an unruly dandelion.

“Who’s this?” a woman asked me when Sparky put his front paws on the edge of the big, comfortable chair where she was sitting, reading a book. He butted his head against her knee.

“This is Sparky,” I said. “He’s the store dog.”

“What’s his job?” the woman asked me. “What does he do?”

I looked at her. She was scratching his ears. “This,” I said, stating what I thought was obvious. “He does this.”

Do store dogs encourage reading? I believe so, in the same way the rest of the staff encourages reading: by helping to create an environment you want to be in. Children beg their parents to take them to our bookstore long before they can read so that they can play on the train table and pet the store dog. Trains and dogs then become connected to reading.

Sparky and Lexington are also happy to provide a complementary service for people who don’t have dogs of their own—children, parents and non-parents alike—so they too can have a little snuggle before they go home. Our store dogs aren’t here just to create a positive association with books; they’re also here to create positive associations with dogs.

A high school English teacher called several months ago to say her class had read one of my novels and she wanted to bring the students to the store for an hour before we opened so that I could talk to them about the book. It was early in Sparky’s tenure and I thought a closed store with a limited number of people inside would be a good trial run. The 20 or so high school students pulled their chairs into a lazy circle. They were hip, disaffected and slouching until Sparky trotted in. As it turns out, there’s no one, not even a high school senior, who’s cool enough to ignore a small, scruffy dog.

Sparky worked the room like a politician, hopping into one lap and then another, walking over knees, until he had pressed his face to every person in the room. When he was finished, he came and settled in my lap. That was when the students looked at me with awe. Sure, I had written a novel, but they felt certain they could write novels if they felt like it. What I had going for me was the love and devotion of a really good dog.

I have no ax to grind with e-books. I care much more that people read than about the device they chose to read on. But I do believe in small businesses, and in the creation of local jobs, and of having a place where people can come together with a sense of community to hear an author read or attend story hour or get a great recommendation from a smart bookseller.

And I like a good store dog, a dog who knows how to curl up on your lap when you’re thumbing through a book. A virtual Sparky? A one-click Lexington? Believe me, it wouldn’t be the same.

Dog's Life: Work of Dogs
Dog Helps Save Sea Turtles
A Texas Terrier helps a species threatened with extinction

Cairns, or stone piles, have for centuries abounded in the Scottish Highlands, marking everything from burial grounds to property boundaries. It was the Cairn Terrier, with his powerful nose, sharp teeth and aggressive personality, who helped Highlanders keep rats and other vermin from infesting both the cairns and their stone cottages. Indispensable then in Scotland, another Cairn has become indispensable today on the beaches of North Padre Island, Texas, where he is helping save the rare Kemp’s ridley sea turtle from extinction.

His name is Ridley and he is the family pet of Donna Shaver, PhD, director of the Sea Turtle Science and Recovery program at Padre Island National Seashore, who has been working tirelessly to establish a secondary nesting beach for these turtles since she first volunteered there as a Cornell University student 28 years ago. (She’s even refused several promotions in order to remain with the turtle program.)

Little more than two decades ago, the Kemp’s ridley—the most vulnerable of the seven species of sea turtle—was declared “genetically extinct” by many conservationists; the turtle’s numbers had dwindled to about 250 to 300 breeding females in the world, virtually all of whom nested only on Rancho Nuevo, a single 30-mile stretch of Mexican beach roughly 200 miles south of Brownsville, Texas. From 1978 to 1988, in an effort to create a secondary birthing area, a few thousand eggs were flown annually to Padre Island to hatch and grow for a year in captivity before release. It was called “head-starting,” after President Lyndon Johnson’s preschool program for disadvantaged children.

“This program is so important—if a catastrophe were to strike the main nesting beach in Mexico,” Shaver says,“there still might not be enough nesting here in Texas to preserve the species.” Shaver’s concern is fact-based. In the summer of 1979, an underwater oil well blew out about 500 miles from the Mexican nesting beach and the drifting slick threatened 10,000 baby turtles with a gooey death; many were saved, however, thanks to the efforts made by rescuers in a fleet of Mexican helicopters, which flew them to safety.

This sort of threat is why every single Texas nest is valuable. “We have had a huge increase in nesting along the 67 miles of Padre Island National Seashore during the last five years, from five in 2000 to 93 last year,” explains Shaver. The curve is indeed upward; the number of nests is increasing along the entire Texas coastline, from one or two nests every one to three years in 1980 to 195 in 2008. But for the turtle’s future to be secured, the number needs to grow by about 10 times—or to approximately 1,950— within the next 10 to 20 years.

The Kemp’s ridley is one of the fastest nesting of all sea turtles, taking only 30 minutes to an hour to crawl out of the surf, dig her nest, lay her 100 or so eggs (known as a clutch), cover the nest and return to the Gulf. During nesting season, the beach is patrolled hourly by volunteers and National Park Service rangers who look for the distinctive tracks in the sand or actively nesting turtles. Found eggs are relocated to the humidity- and temperature-controlled incubation building at NPS headquarters. Despite this, some nests are still missed. At about 80 pounds on average, the Kemp’s ridley is the smallest and lightest of all the sea turtle species, and the tracks she makes on her way from the water to the nesting site are quickly blown away by the wind. Shaver knew there were more eggs to be found, and it was driving her crazy.

Two years ago, Shaver began to exploit Ridley’s acute sense of smell to locate these elusive eggs. “I’ve known for years that dogs and coyotes are two of the prime predators of wild turtle nests in many nations, especially in Central America. And dogs are also used to find illegal drugs or explosives at airports and locate trapped people after earthquakes. So I was anxious to see if Ridley could find the ‘missing’ nests,” says Shaver.

When Ridley was just a puppy, Shaver and her fiancé—Stephen Kurtz, a National Park Service turtle patrol volunteer— had trained him to locate objects by hiding liver and chicken treats around the house and telling him to “go find.” Then, when he was about a year old, they began taking him to the beach for his next big step: identifying the smell of turtle eggs.

At a freshly emptied turtle nest, Ridley’s attention was directed toward its pungent scents of hatchling turtles; leftover egg fluid; and remnants of the mother turtle’s lubricating mucus, which coats the eggs as they’re laid. Ridley soaked it up into his Cairn “hard drive,” and after he got a nose full, Shaver and Kurtz filled the empty nest with sand, walked him down the beach for about a half-hour, and then told him to “go find the nest.” Time after time, Ridley raced back to the exact site. Within about 10 weeks, he was ready to begin the real work of finding the few but critical “invisible nests” the Gulf wind had hidden.

Now, he is brought to the beach several times each year to find nests at track sites where humans have been unsuccessful, his Scottish Highland nose sniffing for the faintest scent of turtle eggs, with Shaver or Kurtz in hot pursuit. When he finds a nest, Ridley digs slightly, careful not to damage the eggs. Successful, he sits back and waits for his treat. “I actually think Ridley understands just how important what he’s doing is; he gets so excited when he finds a nest, even before he gets his reward,” says Shaver.

He’s been doing this work for a season and a half now, and this summer, expectations are high that he’ll be finding even more eggs. An extensive search-and-rescue operation began in April this year, and later this summer, as the baby turtles hatch, Ridley will be there watching, along with the television cameras and the crowds of squealing children who crowd the beach off Corpus Christi 10 to 20 mornings each year to see this miracle of regeneration. Ridley Shaver—in a role the 17th-century Scottish Highlanders who developed the breed could not have envisioned—not only lends a paw but most importantly, a nose to this environmental success story.   

News: Editors
Shelter Me

The good people at the Search Dog Foundation sent us this notice about a PBS show that is not to be missed.

Starting April 1st, PBS affiliates nationwide will feature SDF Search Teams as part of a series that celebrates shelter animals and the people whose lives they touch. For the first time, a video crew has captured the story of our teams -- from recruitment, to training, to pairing with a first-responder. The show is hosted by Jane Lynch, Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress, singer, and comedian.

 

 

 Click here to see the Dates/times in your area

News: Editors
Papers needed for sniffing around

Along with the Supreme Court hearing marriage equality cases this week, it also took time to issue a ruling on Tuesday on the legality of using warrantless searches using drug-sniffing dogs. On that score, the majority ruled that the Fourth Amendment right to keep the government out of your home extends to canine noses, so a warrant is needed.

 “The police cannot, without a warrant based on probable cause, hang around on the lawn or in the side garden, trawling for evidence and perhaps peering into the windows of the home,” Justice Antonin Scalia said for the majority. “And the officers here had all four of their feet and all four of their companion’s planted firmly on that curtilage—the front porch is the classic example of an area intimately associated with the life of the home.”

Scalia was joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Clarence Thomas—certainly an unlikely mix of justices.

In his dissent, Justice Alito said that the court’s ruling stretches expectations of privacy too far. “A reasonable person understands that odors emanating from a house may be detected from locations that are open to the public, and a reasonable person will not count on the strength of those odors remaining within the range that, while detectable by a dog, cannot be smelled by a human.”

As one editorial noted, “They used the sniff test to establish probable cause to get a search warrant. But the sniffing itself was an illegal search, the court said. Imagine if this man were just sitting on his couch, smoking a joint. Would we be okay with police entering his house, based only on a tip from a lovable dog?”

This case involved a Miami-Dade narcotics detection canine, Franky, and his super-sensitive nose. Question being presented to the Supreme Count was, does a police K-9’s sniff outside a house give officers the right to get a search warrant for illegal drugs, or is the sniff itself an unconstitutional search? To Franky’s credit, his nose lead to the detection of 179 pot plants growing inside a Miami house.

Although the high court has approved drug-sniffing dogs in other major cases, including routine traffic stops, airport luggage or a drug-laden package in transit, the difference in this case is that Franky’s services were used at a private home. In the future, Franky and his co-workers will simply need to get a warrant first.

 

 

News: Guest Posts
CCI Dogs, handlers and volunteers march in Presidential Inaugural Parade:
Gratitude and honor prompt participation

WASHINGTON  —  The 2013 Presidential Inaugural Parade played host to another inaugural event.

Santa Rosa, Calif. based Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) made their inaugural debut in the parade, which also marked the first time a dog organization participated.

According to CCI National Director of Marketing Jeanine Konopelski the mother of a Skilled Companion Team from Virginia was the catalyst for the organization’s involvement.

Carina Elgin said her daughter Caroline’s Service Dog, Sajen changed her life and she wanted to show her gratitude to CCI and provide a platform for people to learn about the organization.

The Labrador - Golden Retriever mix black dog was partnered with Caroline 9 years ago.

The now 19 year old has grown up with her 11-year-old dog. Cerebral Palsy has limited Caroline Elgin’s mobility and impaired her speech.

And through the years, Sajen has opened more than just threshold doors for his partner.

He opened the door to a world of opportunity through his unconditional love that bridged barriers to socialization and resulted in building Caroline’s self confidence and independence.

As a young girl with a young Service Dog, Caroline joined a 4H Dog Club.

Despite her limited verbal ability and restricted hand motion, Caroline was able to command Sajen as she took him through Rally Obedience and Agility Trials.

She and Sajen earned a rainbow of ribbons each year in the annual Virginia Dog Show. Though she paced her dog through the rings from her joystick controlled wheelchair, she never asked for any special consideration and competed on equal ground with the other 4H dog handlers.

But Sajen’s ability to help open the door for CCI participation in the 2013 Inaugural Parade is perhaps his biggest achievement to date.

“I was so proud to be walking with Sajen. He has been my best friend and helper for nine years and will be retiring soon, but it was so special to walk with him down Pennsylvania Ave.,” said Caroline Elgin. “ He trotted along and wagged his tail the whole time like he knew this was something special.”

The inaugural parade includes representatives from all 50 states. Though CCI didn’t have a representative from each state, they had participants that stretched from the Atlantic to Pacific coast and included all five CCI Regions.

All four types of CCI Dogs were represented, including Skilled Companion Teams, Hearing Dogs, Facility Dogs, and a CCI Wounded Veteran Initiative Service Dog.

Puppy raisers from around the country also marched in the parade. The youngest puppy in the parade was 4-month old Shyla who is being raised by the Slater family in Upperville, Va. Sajen was the oldest dog in the parade.

“It was amazing how good all the dogs, even the little puppies were, but they are CCI dogs and just really know how to behave,” said Caroline Elgin.

The puppies were wearing their yellow training vests and the graduate dogs were wearing their blue CCI vests. However their human counterparts were all dressed in matching yellow hats and jackets with the organization logo on the back.

Caroline Elgin said some people commented that the outfits made them look like bananas, “but they were warm.”

CCI introduced their balloon dog mascot “Independence” who rode on the parade float with some of the participants. The large yellow dog wore a blue CCI vest and collar.

Caroline Elgin said, “I thought the float was "Labrador able"!

Event though the teams had a long day, she said it was great to be with all the other CCI participants.

She noted that it was already dark as they headed up the street, but when they turned the corner towards the White House reviewing stand the parade route was flooded with bright lights.

Caroline Elgin was on the side of the float closest to the President’s reviewing stand

“Vice-President Biden got really excited when he saw us,” said Carline Elgin. “He knows about CCI and his face really lit up when he saw us. He gave us the “thumbs up”.

She said President Barack Obama was busy having his picture taken, but turned around and got a huge smile on his face and waved when he saw them.

With Sajen by her side, Caroline Elgin matured from a young girl into a young woman. She is a currently a second year Graphic and Web Design student at the Art Institute of Virginia-Dulles and designer at www.labradorabledesigns.com. Her company makes a donation to CCI for each item sold.

Though Sajen’s paws help in many ways, she used modern technology to provide her first hand account of their participation in the 57th Inaugural Parade.

The day after the parade Caroline Elgin and Sajen were both pretty tired, but she said, “It was so exciting to represent CCI and people with disabilities. It was history.”

CCI was one of about 60 applicants chosen from nearly 3,000 parade applicants. Even though CCI made history marching in the 57th Presidential Inaugural Parade, the dogs trained by CCI to assist persons with disabilities make history on an individual basis every day.

“We’re so grateful for this chance for the world to know about Canine Companions for Independence,” said Carina Elgin. “The volunteers are thrilled to show everyone that this opportunity is out there to help enrich the lives of people with disabilities. I want more people like my daughter Caroline to be able to have a dog change their lives.”

CCI was founded in 1975 by Dr. Bonita Bergin and is the largest non-profit provider of trained Service Dogs. They have five regional training centers in the United States and are recognized worldwide for the excellence of their dogs and programs.

CCI provides Service, Hearing, Facility, and Skilled Companion Team dogs free of charge to approved applicants.

For more information, visit cci.org or call 1-800-572-BARK.

 

 

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