If you’ve been around FTLTD for a while, you know there’s no such thing a “just a dog.”  Even dogs that have no other “job” but to be a companion is more than “just a dog.”  They provide so much by just being a part of a person’s life; companionship, love, loyalty, support, health benefits, just for starters.

Now here’s a few stories of dogs that are special heroes for one reason or another.  I have a special place in my heart for “Service dogs” whether they be therapy dogs, working dogs, ie. search and rescue, police, military, etc., service dogs for the blind, disabled, autistic, diabetic, PTSD, etc.  They come in so many shapes and sizes and descriptions to fill such a wide variety of “jobs” and they’re all special heroes.

Alida & Mr. Gibbs

First, let’s meet sweet little Alida and her special ‘best friend”, Mr. Gibbs.  By 6-months-old little Alida was having problems breathing.  By 8-months-old she was diagnosed with  a rare lung condition called neuroendocrine cell hyperplasia of infancy which required her to be tethered to an oxygen tank at all times, a 6-lb tank.

Once Alida got old enough to start getting around on her own, that’s when some issues came up.  If her parents couldn’t come up with some way for Alida to be able to be able to use the oxygen without having to carry that heavy bottle, she was going to have a lot of problems.  That’s where Mr. Gibbs, a golden doodle, came in.

As a puppy, he trained with Alida, learned to move with her every where she went, even to playgrounds and down sliding boards, all while carrying the precious oxygen tank, which even he had to train to be able to carry as a puppy.

Now at 3, you can see the incredible bond between child and dog, a lifesaving bond!

Kobe

Now, let’s meet little tiny Kobe.  Kobe, a certified therapy dog, is a 5-year-old Yorkie who is being honored for his work.  Accompanying his owner, 85-year-old Winnie Browning, to Hospice centers, assisted living facilities and even speaking engagements at churches and women’s groups, Kobe spreads joy and happiness every where he goes.

Kobe was recently awarded the  Therapy Dog International’s Gold award, which is the highest honor TDI gives to therapy dogs after completing his milestone 500th visit.  Just imagine how many people this little guy has comforted, made smile, brought joy to?  Wow!

On some visits, he ends up in a patient’s bed where he’ll remain quiet until his new friend drifts off to sleep. At other places, he joins a group in an activity room and is known to put on a show. Browning has taught him a variety of tricks. He can sit, sit up, wave, shake, give a high five, roll over and even count out his age with his paw.

But Kobe’s show stopper is when he stands in front of one of his two pianos — a small yellow, plastic keyboard or a black upright that’s just his size — and “plays” at Browning’s command. He brings his two paws up and hits the keys and will even “sing” with a bark or two for a small bite of cheese. (Times-News)

Kind of makes you smile just imagining it, doesn’t it? 🙂

Showing Off Their Stuff

As part of Disability Awareness Month, Aimes Greely College on CO is hosting a series of presentations, one of them involving Service Dogs.  Emma, a 4-year-old golden and Yolo, a black lab, got to show off their stuff starting with their incredible patience and attention while waiting for their introduction.

They got to show off how they can handle light switches, picking things up,  opening and closing doors and cabinets which are just a few of the tasks Service Dogs are called upon to do.

Joyce Thiesen, Emma’s owner spoke about the training process at Canine Partners of the Rockies;

Thielen said puppies on track to be service dogs begin training at a sprightly 3 days old. Early training includes removing the puppy from the litter and changing its body orientation or surroundings, like putting a cold washcloth on its paws for a few seconds, and returning it to the litter to get it accustomed to new and sometimes stressful changes.

“Science has proven that if puppies are mildly stressed and then comforted, then as adult dogs they can recover more quickly,” Thielen said — meaning they won’t be overrun with stress when working with their disabled partner.

Trainers are also sure to expose puppies to a multitude of surfaces and scents, taking them everywhere from the bookstore to the dentist, and even aboard airplanes.

Even now, I still find it amazing what dogs can do and how much they can learn.  They are such wonderful and amazing creatures.  Truly “man’s best friend”, a moniker earned for many a reason!

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