September is National Guide Dog Month

September marks National Guide Dog month

Dog owners don’t always consider the complete gift that a dog has to offer. While they are fluffy, cuddly, warm, and comforting, they are also intelligent and completely loyal to you and your needs. Despite what you might think, they are always concerned with your best interests. There are countless clips and memes throughout the world of dogs doing almost human-like acts such as protecting their owner’s bike while they’re in the store or even showing a little jealousy when another dog dives in for a pat on the head.

Dogs of all breeds and ages love to care for their companions (even if we usually consider ourselves the actual caretakers) and are always ready to take on the task of caring for their owner. Guide dogs have a specific job to do when it comes to ensuring their owner’s safety. It’s not easy to get around when you can’t see and not everyone has someone to help them get through the daily challenges that we all face. So, dogs are there to step up to the plate and take on the challenge of helping guide those who have difficulties in seeing the path before them.

This September celebrates the incredible gift that guide-dogs provide for their companions. Not everyone can see the world around them, but they can feel the comforts of having a faithful companion that will never leave their side and keep them safe.

After WWII, many guide-dog training agencies began to grow exponentially. Since then, there are numerous training facilities. Some are for profit while others are non-profit, but the purpose remains the same. In 2008, Dick Van Patten found his passion in helping to raise awareness and funds to help nurture and train guide dogs. While the need for such companions is high, the training needed to ensure that both owner and dog work well together is even higher. The average cost of raising and training a seeing-eye dog is almost 40,000 dollars. It usually takes two years with a professional family to help socialize, nurture, and properly train a guide dog before they can begin their work. For this reason, fundraising for non-profit organizations is needed.

Guide Dog Month was originally founded in 2009, marking the month of May. But in 2010, September was designated as Guide Dog Month in order to increase awareness and the fundraising needed to help benefit accredited non-profit guide-dog schools to ensure quality care of the dog and help provide the best companions for those who need their help the most.

One of the greatest gifts that these dogs provide is their companionship. There are countless numbers of guide-dog stories found throughout the internet, many of which are testimonials which exemplify the abilities of our four-legged companions and their capacity to help out those in need- even when they aren’t human.

Dale Stamper and Venture are like two peas in a pod when it comes to getting around. This veteran lost his sight serving his country, and now relies on his guide dog Venture to help him continue to experience the great things the world continues to offer.

Of course, there are some rather interesting stories of dogs that didn’t have any training but still have a knack for helping those in need, even if it is one of their own. Duke leads his mother Daisy around, rarely letting her out of his sight. If she does wander too far, she’ll sit and call out to him for help, which he is more than happy to oblige.

Then there are the rare occasions when even those that help need help. Guide dogs are still dogs and despite the care we provide and the love we offer, there are certain situations that cannot be avoided. Mr. Graham Waspe faced a rather unique situation in which his guide dog Edward also lost his sight. Rather than letting his companion go, he held onto him and they were joined by another seeing-eye dog, Opal. A great tale of what it truly means to be companions, this trio of pals is led on by Opal who now guides two companions rather than just one.

The most extraordinary thing about dogs is they are humble. They perform their duties, ensure our safety, and help us in countless ways. They never get the chance to toot their own horn, so we do it for them, which is why we write extraordinary tales of their loyalty and companionship. It’s important that we recognize the gift that guide dogs provide for their companions because without dogs, a big part of our lives would be missing.

Keeping up with your pet supplies can be just another thing you don’t want to have to remember.  After a long day at work and going to the store, the last thing you want to do is have to go “to the store” again.  Consider home delivery of your pet supplies!

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High Adventure with Your Pooch

Adventures are best when they’re shared, and who better to share them with than your ever faithful companion? There are so many things you can do, but you are always left with the concern: “Can my dog come too?” This is often one of the most difficult questions that pet owners have to constantly ask themselves. And the answer commonly leaves us looking for a different activity for both us and our dogs to enjoy.

Starting with the highest adventure, parasailing and paragliding can put the wind and fresh air in your faces as you soar high above the ocean or other types of landscapes. Lately, both activities have allowed both us and our pets to get into the air. While no company in the United States is readily equipped or insured, to take your pooch up in the air, many individuals have concurred that their pups also enjoy the feeling of the wind in their faces. After all, they do enjoy sticking their heads out of windows and enjoying the cool breeze. Places like San Francisco and Hawaii have become a hotspot for owners and their dogs to be able to take to the air and enjoy the sights and experiences. Because paragliding and parasailing can be performed from boats and in the right conditions, possibly many other environments, it is possible to find places where you and your dog can enjoy this type of adventure together.

Currently, there is no specifically manufactured harness available, but the practice has incorporated the use of sturdy units that support the dog’s chest, and then attaching them directly to your harness while they sit on your lap, much like the British pet lover Jimmy Rimsk has done in this instance: Custom harnesses have been constructed, and YouTube is littered with videos of dogs and their owners soaring the skies. As the trend catches on, we hope to see professional paragliding companies joining in on the adventure.

Achieving an extra bit of altitude might take you in a different direction. Have you ever considered exploring the mountains on a llama trek? How about your dog accompanying you on a llama trekking adventure? Unfortunately, the industry avoids allowing pets into their facilities, based on the fact that dogs and llamas don’t seem to get along very well. But that doesn’t mean you can’t experience an adventure that takes you into the great outdoors. Maybe your dog would like to go kayaking with their owners down a river. This is actually growing in popularity, not just because of the adventure, but because it can also help train your dog effectively. The Canine Center for Training and Behavior is a unique school for owners and their dogs that incorporate the bonding process and the role it plays in healthy relationship development. Located in Austin Texas, this facility is dedicated to providing a natural and adventurous environment for dogs and their owners to share and develop. Amongst trail hikes and Yoga, the Kayaking experience seems to excel beyond the average experiences that dogs are used to.

For those unfamiliar with kayaking, it is a small vessel, normally seated with no more than two individuals. With the use of a paddle, you can control the direction of the kayak as it shifts and shakes with the current of the river. For your dog, this is an experience that helps them learn the art of balance and agility as they shift their weights to compensate for a change in direction. A recommended addition to the kayak is a shower or yoga mat for your dog to stand on, so they will have extra traction during the adventure. The cool water and adrenalin rush you get is extraordinary, and when combined with the companionship of your dog, it is possibly one of the most memorable moments you will experience with your dog.

Remember that adventures come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re sailing with the wind or with the river, the real adventure is that you get to share it with your dog. The world is full of adventure, and it only gets better when you can share it with your favorite companion. Whether it’s high up in the sky, or navigating the adventurous currents of the river, you can share an awesome experience with your pooch.

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The Dogs of 9/11

photoWe all remember the attacks of September 11th that took place a decade ago, and we will never forget the efforts of those that helped our country in its darkest hours. The firemen, the police, and the rescue teams that scoured the rubble in search of survivors are forever in our hearts and memory. Along-side these rescue teams, over one hundred dogs and their handlers traversed the remains of the World Trade Center, using their skills to aid in their rescue efforts.

Dogs search for survivors

Kiaser, a German Sheppard, arrived at the aftermath to aid in the search for survivors. Assigned to a twelve hour nightshift, the “live” search dog and handler traversed the rubble in search of any living souls. Though he never alerted to finding a survivor, he was trained well enough to hint that there was someone there, assisting the other crews retrieving victim’s bodies so that they could be properly buried. Kiaser spent ten days sifting through the remains of the twin towers, but was unable to find any survivors. He did bring something special to the rescue team; not only were his efforts welcomed, but his comfort was needed as well.

Bretagne, a young golden retriever, was introduced to Ground Zero for her first rescue mission. Though fresh to the scene, she was full of energy and did not tire in her efforts. Alongside her handler, Bretagne searched the rubble for ten days, offering hope to the fellow firefighters whom would stop on occasion to recharge themselves with the retriever’s comforts.

Just doing my job

Charlie wasn’t alone during his own searches. Searching beside and even long after the “live” search dogs, the NYPD K9 department deployed their own efforts to help recover the remains of the victims of such treacherous attacks. These teams scoured the rubble for the eight months following the attacks of 9/11, searching for fallen comrades and comforting the rescue teams.

Offering a special kind of relief

Nickie the Golden Retriever and his handler volunteered their assistance to Ground Zero, where they would spend eight months helping the people, in a slightly different way. Nickie, trained as a trauma patient dog, brought spirit to the turmoil, offering comfort to those who would endure such harsh experiences. It is sometimes amazing how special it actually is to merely pet a dog. The comfort and familiarity of a dog can bring a smile back with the wag of a tail. Nickie’s efforts were not sifting through the aftermath, but instead, sifting through the rubble of broken hearts.

More than just a friend

These dogs are just a few names amongst the vast number of dog and man teams that put their efforts to help our country in its time of need. They went in full force, never questioning their job. Boots to protect their paws couldn’t be used so that their nails and paws could gain traction on the slippery rubble which often shifted further, presenting dangerous situations for everyone. Now in their older years, most of the pups have passed on, leaving only fourteen, all of which have retired and are enjoying the company of their handlers. These dogs of 9/11 are indeed appreciated for their heroic efforts- helping the teams cope with the traumatic events, and staying by our side when we needed them most, proving that you don’t have to be human to be a hero.

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