Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I want to extend a very grateful thank you to all of our dedicated volunteers and amazing supporters. The 2008 year has been a rough one for the economy but we have been so blessed to have made it through another year!

We have been able to provided four service dogs to those in need. Along with having touched hundred of lives through our Animal Assisted Therapy program and Paws for Reading! We have also been able to assist people in getting out of domestic violence situations through the use of our Domestic Violence Animal Assistance Program.

We could not have the effect that we do in this community if it wasn't for all of our wonderful volunteers and supporters. We can only hope that 2009 will be as blessed and successful as 2008 has been.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Volunteerism – The Cornerstone of Our Organization

Carolina Canines would not be who we are today without our volunteers. One special volunteer, Stephen LeQuire has been featured recently in the Wilmington Start News for his volunteer work with the Carolina Canines for Veterans program at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Brig (, but there are many volunteers that make our mission possible.

At this time of year for giving thanks, we would like to thank the many volunteers that give every day to help others in need. From our foster families committing to raising and training the service dogs, to the advanced trainers working to ready a dog for their partner, the 63 active therapy teams that visit people in our community’s facilities, our office helpers, and Board of Director and Advisory Council, we cannot do the work we do and provide the services we do without each and every one of you.

Thank you to all the volunteers that make our organization what it is. Merry Christmas!

Won’t you be a part of the work we do in our community in 2009?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hope For A New Year

This has been an interesting year for the economy as well as Carolina Canines for Service. We have had our up’s and down’s and everywhere in between. We are so grateful to have some of the most amazing volunteers that dedicate so much of their time to making CCFS what it is today, from the foster puppy parents to the Animal Assisted Therapy teams.

In January, we started, Carolina Canines for Veterans. In 2006-2007, the Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign of North Carolina selected Carolina Canines as their charitable project. The statewide organizations goal was to raise funds for one service dog to be placed with one deserving veteran. As a result of this project, Carolina Canines questioned how more veterans could receive the benefits of a service, if they wanted one. From this project, Carolina Canines for Veterans was started in January 2008. Carolina Canines for Veterans is a national pilot program that provides wounded warriors with trained service dogs. What makes our program one of a kind is that we train military prisoners to raise and train the service dogs that we provide to veterans with disabilities at no cost to the veterans. This program is unique in the United States. Prisoners get a second chance to help their comrades. Wounded vets get a second chance for an independent lifestyle. The dogs from for this program are all from rescue or shelters and have passed a strict health and temperament evaluation. The dogs are between 9 months to 2 years of age when entering the Carolina Canines for Veterans program. Training is expected to be completed within a 7 to 15 month timeframe due to using older dogs, rather than the 2 to 3 year training time in our civilian program. The service dogs trained in the Carolina Canines for Veterans program will only be provided to veterans.

We have also been able to partner four people with their service dogs. In 2008 alone, we provided 4 service dogs, at a total worth of $152,000. This brings our total amount of services provided to $1,178,000. We are at a point where our clients are retiring their service dogs and coming back to us for a second dog. We are blessed and happy that they have been served so well that they would like another one to assist them with their independence. One placement was done with a young lady named Randall Ford. She was eleven years old when she received her first service dog, Jacob. Jacob was placed with her when she was in 2nd grade and assisted her in daily activities up through her freshman year of college. This year we placed Conway with Ms. Ford to assist her through her college years and many more to come.

2008 was also the Year of the Wedding! One of our amazing foster families, Lori Gurganious, tied the knot with Andy Brinkley on May 24th. They had a beautiful ceremony with all of the service dogs in training in attendance. Also tying the knot was Ed Salau, one of our clients. Ed married Dawn at an elegant ceremony in Greenville, NC. Also making wedding news, our very own President and C.E.O., Rick Hairston and Executive Assistant, Pat Nowak announced their engagement. We wish them all the best of luck and many years of blissful marriage!

As you can see, it’s been a very busy for Carolina Canines for Service. We have been blessed to provide service dogs for those in need, begin an amazing new program to benefit our wounded warriors, and share in the joy of marriage with friends near and dear to our hearts. We can only hope that next year will be as prosperous as 2008!

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Want a Corporate Sponsor for Christmas….

The popular Christmas song, I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas, continues to captivate many of us; we either love or hate the song. As I think about this song, I think about other Christmas songs and a few of my favorite things.

One of my favorite things is corporate sponsors. Corporate sponsors are the cornerstone of support for non-profits in their community by making an investment in their community. When they align with a non-profit, the corporate sponsor gains recognition as a community-oriented business and marketing opportunities through the non-profit. The corporate sponsor can help to build the non-profits brand while benefiting their corporate identity in the community through positive visibility.

What does it take to be a corporate sponsor? Desire to be part of something bigger than the everyday business conducted and motivation to help others. Just ask Talk, a branding and communications agency in Wilmington, N.C., about their endeavor Project Pet Project ( and you’ll find a mutually beneficial relationship between Talk and Carolina Canines for Service. Motivated by her love of animals, Debbie Elliott, Talk President's Project Pet Project helps pets that are helping people (pictured is Debbie Elliott and Camden, Carolina Canines for Therapy team).

Corporate sponsors come in many forms and an affordable sponsorship is within reach from support for the care of a service dog in training through a monthly contribution, sponsorship of team training for a person receiving their service dog, or sponsoring a service dog through completion of training. Help us continue to help others by standing out in our community as a Corporate Sponsor. For more information contact Carolina Canines at 910-362-8181 or -Pat Nowak, Executive Assistant

Friday, December 12, 2008

2008 Wilmington Holiday Parade

Carolina Canines for Service was proud to participate in this years Wilmington Holiday Parade! The event was held on December 7th, 2008 in the evening hours. It was a beautiful site to see all the community gather around to watch the local organizations celebrate the holiday season.

We were lucky to be joined by a few of the marines that work so closely with our service dogs in the Carolina Canines for Veterans program. The guys brought three of the dogs from the brig down to show their support of the wonderful program. This is the first of many years to come that the Carolina Canines for Veterans has been in existence to participate in the parade. Thanks again guys!

Our wonderful trainer and some of our amazing foster puppy parents also came out to show their support. Donna Sweetman with advanced dog Judah and service dog in training Tobias were all set for the parade in their holiday gear. Our programs couldn't exist without these amazing people and all the support that they give.

Also joining CCFS for the chilly evening to celebrate the holidays were a few of our Animal Assisted Therapy Teams. These teams go into local hospitals, nursing homes, and school and work to brighten someones day just a bit. As you can see Joshua is ready to make anyone smile with his antlers!

Thanks again to everyone who participated in this years' event and to everyone else who helps make what we do possible!


Monday, December 8, 2008

Sacrificing Fashion to Benefit Local Charities

Carolina Canines was one of six charities selected by Keller Williams Realty for the second annual Fashion Victims Ball. This event was held December 6th at the Coastline Convention center. The Fashion Victims Ball is a unique twist to a formal affair in which the attendees dress in their most gaudy outfit. The Master of Ceremony for this year’s ball was WWAY’s very own Steve Rondinaro and music was provided by Lenny Frank. Good food, dancing and fun was the main course of the evening and the outfits were outrageously lavish. Carolina Canines would like to thank Keller Williams Realty, all of the sponsors of the 2008 Fashion Victims Ball and the Fashion Victims Ball Committee for a wonderful event.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Luke - Our Newest Service Dog in Training!

We have just added our newest service dog in training to the group!

Meet Luke, an 11 week old black Labradoodle. Luke is all fur and even more ferocity as he trys to keep up with the big boys in the office. When Luke isn't sleeping, eating, and sleeping some more, he is busy following his temporary foster mommy around. He has a healthy appetite and loves relaxing and gnawing on his Nylabone!

We are already working hard on learning to potty on command and sitting like a good boy. Luke hopes to grow up big, strong, and smart like his three big brothers Judah, Izzachar, and Zebulon. He can't wait to get started on becoming a service dog to help a person with a disability.

Wish him luck everyone!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Carolina Canines Christmas Capers

‘Tis the season to be jolly…. Often times we find ourselves having to be in multiple places at one time. It is at these times, we are very appreciative of our volunteers who always step-up to help with the schedule.

If you are looking for some holiday alternatives, check out the Grace United Methodist Church Alternative Gift Market. The gift market runs from Saturday, Dec 6th from 11 am – 2 pm and Sunday, December 7th from 10 am – 3 pm. This is a unique opportunity to give alternative gifts to family members and friends while helping worthy causes through a donation. Carolina Canines is one of the causes benefitting from this Christmas event. Grace United Methodist Church will provide a beautiful acknowledgement card for the person you are giving the gift to. Grace United Methodist Church is located at 401 Grace Street in Wilmington.

Also this weekend, the Fashion Victims Ball, sponsored by Keller Williams Realty, is being held on Saturday evening at the Coastline Convention Center from 7 to 11 pm. Tickets are just $25.00 and proceeds from the event will benefit one of 10 organizations of which Carolina Canines has been selected. Dress in your most gaudy outfit and come on out for some good times, good laughs and learn about the organizations being supported.

On Sunday evening, December 7th, look for Carolina Canines in the Wilmington Holiday Parade. The parade starts at 5:10 pm at North Front and Walnut Streets proceeding past Riverfront Park.

And, also on Sunday evening, December 7th from 6:30 – 9 pm are pet photos with Santa at Independence Mall.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Optimism, Turns to Sadness

Everyone loves to hear happy news. But, sometimes, the news is not so good.
Our new service dog in training, Miriam, who became so sick on Thanksgiving, lost her battle tonight. Miriam is the newest angel at the Rainbow Bridge.

We know that we, along with the team of veterinarians and technicians, did all we could to give her the fighting chance she deserved. Whatever infection she had went systemically and she could not fight the battle any longer.

With dignity, compassion and respect, we say farewell to a sweet tempered Labrador girl that we barely had the chance to know and who never reached her full potential.

Be free precious Miriam; know peace and that you were loved.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dealing with the Unexpected, Optimistically

Carolina Canines for Veterans is a unique program providing an opportunity for prisoners at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune to learn news skills while giving back to their wounded comrades by train service dogs for our wounded warriors.

While this is a program about people helping people, the link between the two is a dog. These dogs learn over 70 skills to assist a person with a mobility disability, making the person’s life easier.

Where do the dogs come from for the Carolina Canines for Veterans program? The dogs come to us from rescues and shelters. They are anywhere from 9 months to 2 years old. The dogs are selected by first determining if they are heartworm negative, then doing a 20 point temperament assessment to determine if they have the interest, desire and drive to be a working dog. If this assessment is successful, then the dogs are sent to a veterinarian for hip evaluation by radiograph, updated on vaccinations and if the hips are good, spayed/neutered if necessary. Then, placed in the program and named. These dogs are given a second chance to help someone in need instead who being euthanized.

What happens if the dogs get sick? Recently, a newly found service dog in training named Miriam, an 11 month old yellow labrador, became severely ill within 5 days of entering the service dog program. Miriam had intestinal distress that progressively worsened. On Thanksgiving evening she ended up in the emergency veterinary clinic in Wilmington. Taking aggressive therapeutic steps to help manage Miriam through an unknown crisis, she survived the night to be transferred back to our program veterinarian, Dr. Pandolfi. Dr. P. continued the aggressive therapeutic treatment and again on Friday night, Miriam was transferred back to the emergency clinic. Hanging on for another night and back to Dr. Pandolfi Saturday morning, there now seems to be slow and cautious improvement. Miriam will spend yet another overnight at the emergency clinic for therapeutic support in the hopes that she will continue to improve.

The veterinary care is nearing well over the $1,200 mark with at least another 36 hours in the emergency clinic. All of these costs are the responsibility of Carolina Canines for Service. Many may ask why we are going to such efforts and such expense when the financial times are so challenging. For one thing, she was given into our charge and our care, therefore, if sick, it is up to us to provide for the best possible outcome for Miriam. And, she is a living, breathing creature of God. So, we wait, cautiously optimistic for a glorious outcome for Miriam.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Foster Puppy Parents

Puppies/dogs entering training with Carolina Canines for Service, Inc. are placed in volunteer foster homes to begin socialization and basic training. Foster puppy parents are individuals or families who volunteer to raise a service dog puppy in their home up to 24 months.

It is acceptable for a foster family to have children and/or other family pets as long as the service dog puppy is the youngest dog in the household. Socialization and tolerance of children and other animals (dogs, cats, birds, etc.) is an important aspect of a service dog puppy’s training. If you are interested in becoming a foster puppy parent and live in the vicinity of Wilmington, NC or Myrtle Beach, SC.

Foster puppy parents must commit to the following:
*Provide indoor shelter, food, water, grooming, care and humane treatment to meet the basic needs of the puppy
*Attend training classes and socialization outing with the puppy as scheduled and following CCFS training guidelines and protocol
*Promote the mission of CCFS by providing community education regarding disability awareness and service dog information as the opportunities arise when out in public with their service dog puppy
*Financial responsibility for any and all food, supplies and veterinary care the puppy requires while in their care

Understand that the puppy belongs to CCFS and the requirement to relinquish the puppy and any equipment/supplies belonging to the program immediately upon notice.

Foster puppy parents are provided a training manual explicitly outlining the program’s training protocol and standards of care for CCFS puppies. CCFS trainers provide group and individual training sessions at weekly classes and are available to offer advice and guidance 24 hours a day.
Giving up a puppy after it has been a part of a foster family for 24 months is not easy - but it can be done. Foster families have the opportunity to meet individuals who have service dogs and learn what a difference a service dog makes in their lives. A loving, committed foster family is the key to a puppy’s success in becoming a life-long partner and helpmate for a person with a disability who might otherwise never experience the level of mobility and independence a service dog offers.

Carolina Canines for Service, Inc. accepts applications for Foster families on an on-going basis with the desire to have a number of approved foster homes ready and waiting for a puppy. In the past the program has had to turn down the offer of many quality puppies and dogs due to having no foster home readily available.

The Matching Process

The matching process begins after the dog's service category type has been determined. Applicants' needs, personality and lifestyle are reviewed and a preliminary match is made. Each dog receives the same basic skills training for its service category, but it can be trained to meet specific needs its partner may have.

For example, a dog may be trained to work on either the right side or left side, depending upon its partner's needs. One dog was trained to bring a cold cloth out of the refrigerator to his partner to assist his partner with recovery from seizures.

Once the dog completes advanced training, an individualized team training schedule is developed which includes intense training for 1-2 weeks to teach the partner how to utilize the dog's skills and to initiate the life-long bond between human partner and service dog.

This training may take place at the training facility and/or in the community. Some training may take place in the recipients home if the recipient lives in the greater Wilmington, NC communities.

The recipient generally will have an opportunity to meet the service dog's foster family during training.

The joy of meeting their former foster puppy's service dog new partner makes the months of training and heart wrenching "giving-up" process all worth it!

What is a Service Dog?

A service dog is a dog individually trained to perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. Service dogs perform a wide variety of tasks which enable individuals to experience increased independence and enhanced quality of life. Carolina Canines trains service dogs for people with funtional limitations of mobility.

Service dogs trained through Carolina Canines for Service, Inc. are able to perform the following tasks for their partners:
•Retrieving dropped/distant objects
•Pulling wheelchairs and loading wheelchairs into vehicles
•Opening doors
•Carrying items/packages
•Rising to high counters
•Physical support for mobility and transfers to/from wheelchairs
•Physical assistance to recover from a fall
•Dressing or undressing
•Assisting with household tasks such as bed making and laundry

Carolina Canines for Service, Inc. acquires dogs for the program from a variety of sources including donations from reputable breeders, rescue organizations, and local animal shelters. Purebred and mixed breed dogs are both utilized, with an emphasis on using rescued and shelter dogs.

All dogs are spayed/neutered prior to entering service. Male and female dogs are equally suited to service work.

Dogs best suited for service work are from the "working class" category which include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Border Collies, as well as mixes of these breeds.

Carolina Canines accepts puppies into training between 7 to 10 weeks of age. Older dogs are rarely accepted.

Each dog is individually temperament tested to determine its innate characteristics and strengths. Upon passing the temperament test and a health screening the puppy officially becomes a Service Dog in Training.

Throughout the course of training, service dog puppies are closely monitored for good health and temperament. Hips and elbows are x-rayed to rule out hip dysplasia and elbow dysplastia. Chronic health problems or aggressive/unpredictable behavior result in disqualification from the program. Carolina Canines For Service, Inc. commits to placing only healthy, temperamentally sound dogs into service.