Registered R.E.A.D. Team

Not long after Margarita and I passed our test to become a registered Therapy Dog Team with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, I learned about a great program called R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs). I decided this would be an excellent opportunity for us, so I began to study for the written test.  One day before Margarita’s 1st Gotcha Day / 7th-ish Birthday, we received the great news that I passed, and we are now officially a registered R.E.A.D. team!

“The mission of the R.E.A.D. program is to improve the literacy skills of children through the assistance of registered therapy teams as “literacy mentors.”

The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program improves children’s reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: reading to an animal. But not just any animal. R.E.A.D. companions are registered therapy animals who volunteer with their owner/handlers as a team, going to schools, libraries and many other settings as reading companions for children.

R.E.A.D. is the first and foremost program that utilizes therapy animals to help kids improve their reading and communication skills and also teaches them to love books and reading. It’s been growing around the world since November of 1999 when ITA launched it here in Salt Lake City. More than 3,500 therapy teams have trained and registered with the program and are going strong!

Today, thousands of registered R.E.A.D. teams work throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Finland, France, Sweden, South Africa, Slovenia, Spain, Netherlands, Norway and beyond. “

~Intermountain Therapy Animals

We are very excited to be a part of this wonderful program!

Margarita’s Therapy Dog Workshop: WonderDogs in Berlin, NJ

Brian and I think Margarita would make a great Therapy Dog, but we were unsure of the requirements, OR if Rita would truly make a good candidate for this type of work.

Last night we took her to a Therapy Dog workshop at WonderDogs in Berlin, NJ, where we have taken both Limoncello and Hooch for obedience training when they were young pups. (Click HERE to see Limoncello’s graduation from Puppy Head Start class at WonderDogs, click HERE to see Hooch’s graduation from Puppy Head Start class, and click HERE to see Hooch’s graduation from the Terrible Teens class at WonderDogs!)

Jenny and Rita getting ready to start the first activity at the Therapy Dog Workshop:

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Margarita lovers her “place” mat, and was a well-behaved, attentive student:

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The instructor, Judith Azaren, focused on a variety of skills, including:

  • Greeting/Disengaging on cue
  • Working calmly around other dogs
  • Handler engagement techniques
  • Moving exercises
  • Distraction work including dogs, people, wheelchair, walker, etc
  • Physical handling
  • Stress signals

We feel as though Margarita did very well for her first time being presented with the tasks that were covered in this workshop.

Margarita quickly learned to look at me to earn a reward when she discovers staged piles of treats on the floor.  Therapy dogs come across many items on a floor, such as medication/pills accidentally dropped on the floor.  It is imperative that the dogs look to the handler rather than ingest what they find:

Here is Margarita weaving past other dogs, and not engaging:

Rita practiced loose-leash walking:

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Margarita did well working around distractions such as crutches, wheel chairs, walkers, and a vacuum cleaner:

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Margarita picked up on the “touch” game very quickly!  Each time she touched my hand with her snout, she earned a treat.  That was a fun game for her!

Here she is working on “touch” while not engaging with other dogs as they walk by:

Working on “touch:”

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We have already contacted several Therapy Pet Registering organizations in order to start the process of Margarita’s evaluation and registration.  We are hoping that with some additional training and practice, we will be able to have Margarita certified as a Therapy Dog so that she can help provide affection and comfort to those in need!

Do you think  your dog or pet may be a good candidate for becoming a Therapy Dog?  Each organization has different requirements, so be sure to do your research.  Here are some of the most well-known for therapy pets (click on the names below to be directed to the organizations’ website):

How Margarita Became a Part of Our Family

The rescue we volunteer for, GSP Rescue of NJ, covers all of New Jersey, parts of New York, and assist other recognized out-of-state GSP rescues in urgent situations. In addition to re-homing GSPs, they also work with owners to help them with any issues they may have with them.  In emergency situations, the rescue will also reach out to help English Pointers.

When an English Pointer rescue could not take a female English Pointer known as “Penelope,” she was on her way to being taken to a shelter when GSP Rescue of NJ offered to help.  Although the GSP Rescue of NJ was willing to help this poor girl who was found as a stray, our foster homes were full, and there was no one available to foster her.  Although we do not usually foster, we decided that we just couldn’t let this skinny pretty girl end up in a kill-shelter. On March 3, 2016, we committed to fostering Penelope so that she could begin her road to recovery.

She was transported to the rescue’s vet, and was examined.  Penelope was completely emaciated, appeared to have had many litters, had a tumor on her neck, tested positive for Anaplasmosis (a tick-borne disease) and severely damaged and rotted teeth.  She also had a cut on her tail and her belly.  While at the vet, she was supposed to have teeth extractions, a lumpectomy, and also be spayed.  The dental work took so long, that not all needed teeth could be pulled, and the lumpectomy and spay could not be performed due to the length of time she was under anesthesia.  She had a total of 6 teeth pulled during her first surgery.  The vet set her up with a future appointment for continuation of dental, her spay, and removal and biopsy of the lump on her neck.

On March 4, 2016, another GSP Rescue of NJ volunteer, Mandy, was nice enough to pick Penelope up from the vet and meet me half way to cut down on my 2 hour drive-time.

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Penelope was a great passenger, and rested calmly for her ride to our home.

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Once home, we introduced her to each of our fur-kids individually on lead by meeting out on the street and taking a short walk together.  After the initial greetings were over, we gave her some time to explore the yard on her own before we settled her down in a crate.

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File Apr 21, 9 12 22 PMIn just the first night and day that we spent with Penelope, we got her to sit for a treat, and sit-stay for a picture.  She did not appear to know basic commands, but was very food-driven and eager to please.  She did wonderfully in her crate, ate well, and slept soundly.

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We introduced her to our cat, Loki, and she seemed to be just fine with him.

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We also introduced her to fellow rescue friends Jen and Grace’s male English Pointer (Penelope LOVED him!) as well as our friends’ two GSP puppies.  She did amazing with all the dogs, and had a very fun-filled, exhausting day!

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Penny had her second surgery scheduled for her lumpectomy, more teeth to be pulled, and her spay a few weeks later on March 29, 2016.  We fell more in love with her as each day passed! Just a few days before her spay, she went into heat, so the vet opted to put off her spay once again. Her lumpectomy and dental surgeries went well.

File Apr 21, 8 41 23 PMHer lumpectomy went well, and the biopsy came back that the lump was benign!

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Thirteen days later, when we got home from Penny’s suture removal, Brian asked me if I wanted  a glass of wine to celebrate.  I asked, “Celebrate what?”  Brian said, “Our newest family member!” After tears of joy, hugs, and celebration, we renamed her Señorita Margarita (Rita for short)!

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Rita’s third surgery was for her spay.  The good news is that her spay procedure went well. At the time of her spay, we opted to have an additional procedure called Gastropexy in order to avoid bloat (a common cause of death in pointers) in the future.

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Thank goodness we opted for that extra procedure, because it was during that part of the surgery that our vet discovered that Rita had lesions on her spleen as well as a separated spleen – commonly seen in a dog that has suffered blunt-force trauma from being kicked. Although this was heartbreaking news to hear, it was during this discovery that our vet also noticed a mass on her spleen. Had we not opted for this additional procedure, the mass as well as a part of her past would have gone undetected. An aspiration of the mass did not give enough information to determine a diagnosis, so Rita will have an ultrasound done in May to explore the mass and other organs to determine our course of action. She is recovering nicely from her spay and is being extra-spoiled. However, we ask that you please still keep her in your thoughts, as we do not yet know the complete outcome of the mass on her spleen. Thanks to all of you for your support and kindness through our fostering as well as our foster-failure of this angel!!

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Señorita Margarita: Our First English Pointer

Well, we are proud to admit we are complete failures.  Foster failures that is! Remember Penelope our foster-kid? (If not, click HERE to read her story) Well, she quickly ingrained herself into our hearts and home…and we could not imagine our pack without her!  We have officially adopted her, and her new name is Señorita Margarita (“Rita” for short!)

Welcome to your forever home, Rita! 

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Penelope, The English Pointer

The rescue we volunteer for, GSP Rescue of NJ, covers all of New Jersey, parts of New York, and assist other recognized out-of-state GSP rescues in urgent situations. In addition to rehoming GSPs, they also work with owners to help them with any issues they may have with them.  In emergency situations, the rescue will also reach out to help English Pointers.

GSP Rescue of NJ offered to help a female English Pointer, known as Penelope.  Although the rescue was willing to help this poor girl who was found as a stray, our foster homes were full, and there was no one available to foster her.  This meant that Penelope could find herself in a shelter.  Although we do not usually foster, we decided that we just couldn’t let this skinny pretty girl end up in a shelter. On March 3, 2016, we committed to fostering Penelope so that she could begin her road to recovery.

She was transported to the rescue’s vet, and was examined.  Penelope was emaciated, appeared to have had many litters, had a lump on her neck, and severely damaged and rotted teeth.  She also had a cut on her tail and her belly.  While at the vet, she was supposed to have dental work done, and also be spayed.  The dental work took so long, that not all needed teeth could be pulled, and the spay could not be performed due to the length of time she was under anesthesia.  She had a total of 6 teeth pulled.  The vet set her up with a future appointment for continuation of dental, her spay, and removal and biopsy of the lump on her neck.

Another rescue volunteer, Mandy, was nice enough to pick Penelope up from the vet and meet me half way to cut down on my 2 hour drive-time.

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Penelope was a great passenger, and rested calmly for her ride to our home.

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Once home, we introduced her to each of our fur-kids individually on lead by meeting out on the street and taking a short walk together.  After the initial greetings were over, we gave her some time to explore the yard on her own before we settled her down in a crate.

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In just the first night and day that we spent with Penelope, we got her to sit for a treat, and sit-stay for a picture.  She does not appear to know basic commands, but is very food-driven and eager to please.  She did wonderfully in her crate, ate well, and slept soundly.

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We introduced her to our cat, Loki, and she seemed to be just fine with him.

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We also introduced her to fellow rescue friends Jen and Grace’s male English Pointer (Penelope LOVED him!) as well as our friends’ two GSP puppies.  She did amazing with all the dogs, and had a very fun-filled, exhausting day!

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We will be fostering Penelope until she has her vetting complete, and can be adopted.

Click HERE to view a public photo album of Penelope!

Think There Is No Way You Can Help? Think Again!

If you can’t adopt….foster.

If you can’t foster…sponsor.

If you can’t sponsor…volunteer.

If you can’t volunteer…donate or transport an animal to safety.

If you can’t donate or transport…educate, network, and cross-post.

Everyone can do something, large or small, to help save a life.

~Pit Crew, IL

 

I often hear people say they can’t help because “It’s too upsetting,”  “I don’t have the money,”  “I don’t have the time,” …etc, etc, etc…. well – you CAN help – in many different ways, regardless of your time, level of involvement, or financial situation.  The purpose of this post is to show you that there are many different ways, and numerous levels of participation you can involve yourself in to help save an animal’s life – both with little time, or little/no money!

There are also many people out there who really want to help, but not sure what they can do to assist.  There are plenty of different ways to help either at a local shelter – or a rescue organization.  Remember…Just a few hours can make such a difference for an animal in need!

Contact a local shelter or rescue organization today, and ask how YOU can contribute…there are MANY ways to assist! Here are just some ways how you volunteer to help change the life of a homeless animal:

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LOCAL SHELTERS:

  • Walking and exercising the dogs: Get some exercise yourself while giving a shelter dog a break from the kennel! Walking and playing with shelter dogs can be very rewarding, and provide much-needed exercise and stress-relief for shelter animals.
  • Cleaning kennels: Help keep kennel, walking areas, and play spaces tidy, and help wash kennel bedding to help shelter animals’ stay a more enjoyable one.
  • Donating food, toys, newspapers, old towels and sheets: Have you ever heard the saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?”  Many items you may normally throw out could be used by shelter pets to provide stimulation, reduce stress, or provide bedding. There are MANY toys, household items, pet care supplies, medical supplies, and even office supplies that shelters could use. Contact the specific shelter to find out what items they could use most.
  • Donating money to the shelter: Most shelters even have an online donation option.
  • Planned Giving: Remember a favorite local shelter in your will.  Making a lifetime gift by bequest is easy.  Simply direct your attorney to include the shelter in your will when it is drafted.  You can designate a specific dollar amount, or percentage of your estate.  You can also bequeath specific assets to the shelter or organization.
  • Sponsoring a shelter animal:  You can sponsor a specific shelter animal by donating monthly to that animal until they find their forever home.  You can decide on the level of support to which you would like to commit, select a shelter pet to designate that support to, and receive updates on that supported shelter animal.
  • Memorial and tribute gifts:  Honor a loved one – human or pet – by making a memorial or tribute donation.  Most shelters and organizations will send a card to whomever you wish to honor with your donation.
  • Get involved at shelter events: Volunteer to help set up, break down, or run a table (sell merchandise, educate people who stop at the table by telling them about the organization, accept donations, etc) for the rescue at events.
  • Foster a pet to free up space at the shelter: Fostering a shelter pet frees up space in the shelter for other incoming animals.  It is also a very rewarding experience, and a personal way to get involved in saving an animal’s life. Fostering increases the number of animals a shelter can save, and plays a huge part in the shelter’s ability to find homes for homeless animals.  Most shelters will provide veterinary care, supplies, advice, and more while the animal is in your care. Contact a local shelter for specific details.

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RESCUE ORGANIZATIONS:

  • Become a foster: Fostering is a critical part of an organization’s success.  Fostering provides a loving a stable environment for an animal until they can be adopted into their forever home.
  • Transport animals to their foster or adoptive homes: Drive a “leg” or two of a transport!  Most legs are only an hour or so long, and just an hour’s drive can help get a homeless animal closer to their foster or adoptive family.
  • Be a coordinator: Help coordinate or monitor transports, or help by working with shelters and other groups who need assistance with animals in need. Coordinators receive information about dogs in need, and work with the shelter and rescue to place dogs in foster homes.
  • Perform home visits/inspections for  potential adopters: Visit homes of nearby potential adopters and evaluate the home, property, and family for rescues in order for decisions to be made for adoption approvals.
  • Make phone calls: Call potential adopters to review applications, and applicants’ veterinarians for background checks in order for decisions to be made for adoption approvals.
  • Evaluate a animal in a shelter: Visit a specific animal in a shelter to analyze it’s temperament, overall health, etc.
  • Get involved in a fundraising event for the organization: Volunteer to help set up, break down, or run a table (sell merchandise, educate people who stop at the table by telling them about the organization, accept donations) for the rescue at events.  There are even more opportunities for fundraising, or participating in the event itself.   Some events you can even bring your dog – have them participate as a donation dog!
  • Donate: Rescue organizations depend greatly on donations from supporters.  Most rescues are all-volunteer non-profit organizations. Monies donated go directly to the care (spay, neuter/vaccines/heartworm testing, treatment, and preventative/and other general vetting of the animals in the program)… there are no offices, shelter, or paid staff to support.
  • Donate supplies: Food, treats, collars, leads, toys, bedding, crates…and much more!
  • Shop Online and at Sites that Support the Organization: Many rescues now have sites that will donate a portion of sales to the rescue.  It does not cost you any additional money, and really adds up for the rescue organization.
  • Buy rescue merchandise: Show off your love of animals and your passion of saving animals lives by buying merchandise from a rescue.  Rescues often sell hats, shirts, magnets, and more.  Proceeds will help fund your favorite rescue or organization.
  • Educate: Get the word out of animal-related events happening in your area.  Rescues always need volunteers to help spread the word about the work they do.  Often rescues have brochures and other materials available to help publicize their organization and the work they do.

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I’m sure there are even more ways to assist a local shelter or a rescue organization – contact one today to see how YOU can help save the lives of animals!

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“Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever”

~Karen Davison

Clarabelle’s Journey

Meet Clarabelle!

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Clarabelle was Cello’s house guest for 5 days while she was in between foster homes.  Clarabelle was rescued from a high-kill shelter in North Carolina, and is a (approx) 9 month old Hound-mix.  She is a sweet southern belle with ice-blue eyes (no filter on those baby-blues – they are truly THAT blue!).

She is spayed, up to date on shots, and has been to the vet this week.  We took her to the vet while she was with us because I suspected that she had ear infections (she did)…and while we were at the vet, it was discovered that she has an umbilical hernia – which is common – and  is not harmful to her at the moment, but would have to be watched for possible repair.
In the Jeep on the way to the vet, enjoying a bully stick:
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She is a very happy and affectionate dog despite her unfortunate past.  After being abandoned in a kill-shelter, Clarabelle was then unfortunately placed in a foster home that was found to be not adequate.  That’s when we took her for a few days, so that she would be out of yet another unfortunate environment.  She came to us with a broken harness, un-bathed, and I immediately could “smell” ear infections (if you’ve ever had a dog with a bad ear infection, you know what I mean!!)   It was also suspected that Clara was made to stay in a crate for long hours at her first foster home.
We went to a local pet store and bought Clara a new harness and martingale collar asap.
We made sure to provide her with lots of running and play time so that she could release some of her pent-up energy!
Clarabelle after much running decided it was time to rest!
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Clara was SO good during her clean-up and let me bathe her, clean her ears and teeth, and brush her after her bath.  It was great to see her all cleaned-up and smelling good!
She was so sweet… she “hugged” me gently with her paws and nuzzled in for kisses for as long as I would let her.  All she wanted to do was to be around people and dogs, and be petted, kissed, and loved – and OUT of her crate.  As far as we had seen, she had shown no aggression toward people, children, or other dogs.  She had seen my cat, Loki, from afar/through a gate – and just stood there watching – no barking or aggression – just curiously watched.  We did not truly introduce her to Loki, so I can’t verify if she is completely cat-friendly.
Clarabelle loved playing soccer in our yard!photo 4
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Clara has an amazing jumping ability, and can easily jump over gates and fences and onto tables and counter tops.  A high, physical fence is necessary, as she can easily jump a 4ft+ fence.
Originally, we were only supposed to have Clara for a night or two.  During her move to us, her next lined-up foster home fell through.  She wound up being with us for 5 days.  Although she immediately stole our hearts, we knew our home was not the right fit for Clara to be fostered.  Cello was NOT happy with Clara’s puppy behaviors, and was acting-out.  Clara also continuously tried to jump our 4ft fence.  We did our best in our short time with Clara to love and care for her.  We were happy to have gotten her out of her unfortunate situation, and to have been able to provide Clara with a temporary stay in a gentle, loving, and caring environment.  Clara’s has moved to another foster home, and is still looking for a long-term foster, or better yet – a forever home!
Here is a FB link with her pictures
Also, pictures and video of her can be viewed on New Life Rescue’s FB page  https://www.facebook.com/NewLifeAnimalRescue
New Life Animal Rescue’s website  http://www.newlifeanimalrescue.org/   … as well as on Cello’s FB page, and Cello’s Instagram and Twitter pages (all easily accessed here on Cello’s Corner).
Help Clarabelle’s Journey end, and give her a forever-home! …To find out more details on Clara, to volunteer to foster her, or to apply for adoption, please visit New Life Animal Rescue’s website  http://www.newlifeanimalrescue.org/  or email them at newlifeanimalrescue@gmail.com.