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The Best & Brightest in the World of Dogs
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Well ahead of most of his ivory tower peers, Leo K. Bustad, dean of Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, perceived the healing power of animals and dedicated himself to establishing the science behind the notion that our dogs and cats make us feel better. As co-founder of the Delta Society, he promoted greater understanding of the human-animal bond, and helped create the gold standard for animal-assisted therapy in health-care settings. 

Joan Esnayra, founder and president of the Psychiatric Service Dog Society, works to open people’s eyes to this more subtle form of service; much of her work focuses on assisting veterans suffering from PTSD. 

From the depths of grim personal experience, Sister Pauline Quinn found the inspiration to start the Prison Pet Partnership Program that has helped heal the lives of an untold number of dogs and inmates alike. 

Bonnie Bergin originated the concept of “service dogs,” canines trained to perform essential everyday tasks, such as opening doors and switching on lights, for people with mobility limitations—and then dedicated herself to getting these life-changing dogs to the people who needed them. In 1975, she founded Canine Companions for Independence, the first nonprofit to train and place service dogs. She later established a university of canine studies and spearheaded campaigns to help low-income individuals with disabilities afford assistance dogs. 

Kathy Zubrycki and her late husband, Ted Zubrycki, pioneered the innovative development of “special needs” guide dog training, showing that guide dogs could be successfully trained for blind people with additional disabilities. 

After a puppy spontaneously alerted Mark Ruefenacht to a dangerous drop in his blood sugar, he founded Dogs4Diabetics, which is dedicated to training dogs to detect the subtle scent of life-threatening hypoglycemia. 

Inspired by her son’s cerebral palsy service dog, prosecuting attorney Ellen O’Neill-Stephens introduced canine advocates into Seattle’s criminal courts, and then co-founded Courthouse Dogs to promote the use of dogs to comfort traumatized victims and witnesses. 

Sandi Martin’s flash of brilliance: Children who struggle to read will do better if reading to dogs. The success of her Intermountain Therapy Animals’ Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ) program spawned a four-pawed literacy revolution. 

For nearly three decades, working-dog trainer and handler Larry Allen has been transforming “problem dogs,” especially Bloodhounds, into happily employed trackers for law enforcement agencies across the country. 

Retired British orthopedic surgeon John Church made the leap from anecdote to science when he and his team undertook the first scientifically robust study that proved dogs can be trained to detect cancer. 

WELLNESS
There are many paths to wellness—here are some of the people who marked the alternative way.

Narda G. Robinson applies rigorous scientific methods to the study of complementary and alternative medicine for small animals; she holds the first endowed position in this field at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. 

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Submitted by AliKat | February 13 2010 |

Although I know the article wasn't about the dogs pictured on page 49, it was still a thrill to see the little round photo of our Chow Chow Rowdy in the picture(7th from left, down 3 spots), especially since The Bark has also just chosen him (puppy pic) and one of our other Chows(who passed 9/25/09) in the smiling dogs online for this past week. Rowdy was also in The Bark magazine as one of the smiling dogs in the Nov./Dec. 2008 issue. Naturally, we think he's a real handsome guy, but it's nice to know someone else thinks so too. Thanks Bark!

Submitted by Julie Hirt | March 12 2010 |

Hello The Bark!

I am surprised that Cesar Millan didn't make the list - of the top 100 or the honorable mention story above. I hear rumblings of him being a controversial figure in the dog world (not sure I understand why) but he has, at the very minimum taught thousands of dog guardians that a daily 20 minute walk a day is crucial to a dog's physical and mental well-being. Not to mention that he's been showing millions of viewers that it isn't the dog's fault - it is the human's.

I am trying to figure out why he would have been omitted. Maybe he is too commercial. I don't know. But isn't it important to note what he's been able to contribute to the overall collaborative work by the pet community as a whole?

Sincerely,

Julie Hirt

Submitted by Matthew | April 13 2010 |

Hi Julie,

Typical comments in our canine search and rescue group is that Cesar is 80% correct. Once you've advanced to the point that you understand which 20% is garbage, you don't need him anymore.

The nonsense is all that alpha-aggressive stuff. Granted I'm biased in that you can not teach wilderness Search and Rescue through discipline methods. No dog is going to go look for someone lost in the woods for 8 hours because of fear of reprisal. You MUST make them want to do the work more than anything else. There are zero obedience commands given during the actual search training. I know this colors my perspective on dog training. :)

For an alternative view, check out http://www.phoenixbooksandaudio.com/books/detail/the-behavior-savior/ .

Fair disclosure: Dina was a Mission Ready member of our search and rescue team before the tragic, untimely death of her partner. We've both trained dogs and taken classes together, and it my professional opinion that she is very good at what she does. This is my first working dog and I have certainly learned important lessons about my partner by applying her principles and methods. I'm also fortunate to be able to call her a friend. No, I don't get anything from mentioning her book.

Read Culture Clash; if you're in the area, work with Dina; and you'll have all the tools you need to develop a great relationship with your dog. After that it is up to you and your willingness to devote 1 hour a day to giving your dog exercise, obedience training, and affection. (That's a Dina saying. :)

Matthew

Submitted by Anonymous | April 7 2010 |

I do not disagree with anyone on this list and what a wonderful list it is. There are some of the top people here and kudos to Bark for pointing them all out to the public. I am just wondering, where is Suzanne Clothier? She is one of the leading figures on canine assessments and relationship based training methods. Please consider her for next years list.

Submitted by pierre | August 19 2013 |

There are some of the top people here and kudos to Bark for pointing them all out to the public. I am just wondering, where is Suzanne Clothier? She is one of the leading figures on canine assessments and relationship based training methods. Please consider her for next years list.

http://binaereoptionen.webgarden.com/

Submitted by Laura | April 8 2010 |

But I have to agree...Where is Suzanne Clothier?? I hope she's considered next year!

I was relieved not to see Cesar Milan! Kudos to you for not including someone who uses a lot of controversial and harsh approaches.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 30 2010 |

Myrna Miliani is brilliant and it's about time we started to listen to what she has been writing (for years) about.

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