Tuesday, January 27, 2009

WALK for Those Who Can't Registration Now Open

Registration is now open for the third annual fundraising walk benefiting Carolina Canines for Service, on Saturday, March 28 at 9 a.m., at “The Loop” in Wrightsville Beach. Teams and individuals can register for the Walk For Those Who Can't online by visiting http://walkforthosewhocant.org/ or calling (910) 362-8194.A minimum donation of $20 is required to participate in the walk, and a minimum $30 donation is required to receive a walk t-shirt. On the day of the event, sign-in and on-site registration begins at 9 a.m. and the walk around Wrightsville Beach’s 2.45 mile loop begins at 10 a.m. Participants are encouraged to bring their canine companions.

Last year more than 300 individuals participated in the Walk For Those Who Can’t, raising more than $20,000 for Carolina Canines’ programs. Funding was used to support growing programs within the organization such as the Carolina Canines for Veterans program. In the last three months of 2008 alone, three service dogs, valued at $38,000 each, were placed with wounded warriors. The dogs for the Veterans program are trained in the Camp Lejeune prison, making it the only program in the country in which military prisoners train rescued shelter dogs to become service dogs for their wounded comrades. This year, as the Veterans program continues to grow, Carolina Canines will also launch its own therapy animal training program, with curriculum designed by Carolina Canines Founder and Executive Director Rick Hairston. Members of the public who have pets that have passed basic obedience courses can register to train as a pet therapy team and volunteer in children’s reading programs (Paws for Reading), hospitals, nursing homes, Hospice and more.

In 2009, Carolina Canines will also continue to operate its Domestic Violence Animal Awareness Program. As a part of that program, victims of domestic violence who are scared to leave their home for fear that harm will be inflicted on their pet, can call the police department, who in turn contacts Carolina Canines to pick up the pet and house it for up to 90 days, free of charge, while the victim seeks shelter.“There has never been a greater demand for our programs, so to our end, there has never been a greater need for funding,” said Executive Director Rick Hairston. “This walk is a wonderful opportunity to learn about our many programs and support our mission through a sponsorship or donation.”Support for the 2009 Walk For Those Who Can’t comes in part from Merrill Lynch, Papa John’s, NRL Builders, Inc. and Talk, Inc. Corporate sponsorship opportunities and volunteer opportunities for groups and individuals are still available by calling Carolina Canines at (910) 362-8194.

Carolina Canines for Service is a non-profit corporation dedicated to empowering people with disabilities to achieve greater independence. The group trains certified service dogs with the help of volunteer foster families, matches the dog to an eligible recipient and provides the dog free of charge. Since its inception in 1996, Carolina Canines has placed 31 service dogs, valued at more than $1.2 million. For more information, call (866) 910-3647 or visit www.carolinacanines.org.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Abram Is Going To Prison

Those of you who know me, know that courage is my middle name. While I have finally stopped looking for the MOST difficult path to follow, I do still enjoy a challenge once in awhile. Truth be told, I'm not feeling so courageous right now.

Next Monday morning the 26th, Hope Ridge Irish Whiskey CGC, aka 'Abram', will be headed up to Camp Lejeune's military prison to complete his advanced service dog training under Carolina Canines for Service, before being finally placed with one of the returning Wounded Warriors from Iraq sometime this summer or fall. Abram will be two in March and will do me (and all ridgeback lovers) proud. Fortunately, one of the program requirements is continued contact with both foster parent and breeder, so I'll get to see him in action at some point, which makes losing him worthwhile.

As a breeder, I figured it would be relatively easy to say goodbye. After all, I was always THRILLED to see 8-10 week old poopin' machines go to their new homes, so how much different could it be?


Abram is a very special boy. Those of you who have had the pleasure of meeting him know what I'm talking about. He's found his karmic purpose, as so many dogs don't. I had one frail 84 year old lady that we visit with threaten to climb my fence and steal him away one night.

Please wish Abram well and consider helping with food and care for him at Carolina Canines http://www.carolinacanines.org/ . While the government provides the room and trainer, Carolina Canines still has ownership and upkeep of the dog. The program they are running is the first of its kind in the military prisons and will likely be the model for others, so that's exciting. This link will tell you a little more about the Wounded Warrior Project also, the men and women that dogs like Abram will help https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/content/view/412/875/ . Nothing much about the dogs, but you get an idea of what they are doing to help.

Another way you can help is by volunteering your time as a foster parent or puppy raiser for a year or two (all programs are different- check locally), with or without a donated puppy. My goal was to see whether one of my ridgebacks had it in him to become a well-mannered, biddable dog capable of assistng an adult in balance, support and other mobility related life tasks. I'm happy to report that he has done wonderfully, other than the few counter-surfing episodes once he learned to 'Rise'. He's nothing if not opportunistic and I think of that as a pretty typical RR trait.

It'll be awhile before I do another foster, mainly because I don't plan on doing any breeding for awhile and will want to continue to foster my own. I am connected with an assistance dog club in San Diego that should feed my need to stay involved, but I'll be pretty busy taking care of my new grandson anyway, so he trumps another puppy!

Mary Phelps

Monday, January 19, 2009

Everyday Heroes

America was captivated by the incredible demonstration of heroism by Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, first officer and co-pilot Jeff Skiles of the USAir jet that were challenged to complete an awe inspiring feat to land the jet in the Hudson River after a bird strike took out the engines. All the passengers and crew made it out alive; a miracle in itself. The pilot, co-pilot and crew, and emergency responders all were everyday heroes, called into action when least expected and achieved an extraordinary result; saving the lives of 155 people. People you and I don’t know, but who are mothers, fathers, wives or husbands, children or grandchildren, friends of someone that does know and love them.

Everyday heroes are found right here in our community; just look around. They may not be faced with the challenge of saving the lives of 155 people but each day they are working to change the life of just one person. How? By raising a service dog for a person with a disability, training to become a therapy team and visiting at a local facility bringing a smile to brighten someone’s day, forming a team for the upcoming Walk for Those Who Can’t to raise the funds needed to continue our work in the community.

Everyday heroes, who are our heroes every day.
Come be a hero with Carolina Canines for Service!

Friday, January 9, 2009

What's In A Name?

Do you ever wonder how the Carolina Canines service dogs are named?Every service dog entering training receives a name that is biblically based. It is not always an easy process and the name initially selected may not be the name that the dog ends up with.

First, if a service dog has been placed or is in training, that name will not be used again. Next, a search starts with the day of the year and looking at the scripture in the bible for that day. This usually happens after we have picked up a puppy or two so we know we need a male or female name or both. If we have received several puppies from the same litter, we try to name the puppies within a family group. If it is a seasonal time of year, like Christmas, we may name the puppy something to do with the time of year, such as Joy or Holly or Star. Then there is the need to have a one, two or three syllable name so it is easier for the puppy to learn it’s name. And, we prefer not to use common names such as Peter or Mary or names that can be shortened. We will also look for names with specific meanings. For example, using one of many internet tools, we may ask “what names have the meaning of blessed?”, and then use a name with that meaning which may be of various cultural descent. We also test the name against some of the common training commands so the name is not too close to a command that is frequently used (Levi is too close to the command ‘Leave It’).

Once a name is selected, we say it over and over and over again to see if we like the sound of it. And, then we test the name with the puppy to see if the name fits. The puppy is usually named when it is goes to its’ foster family to raise, but sometimes for our families that have fostered multiple service dogs for us, we let them help select the name. Of course, final approval is always the responsibility of the CCFS staff.

So, the next time you meet one of our service dogs or service dogs in training, you’ll know just what has gone into finding that perfect name.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

3rd Wounded Warrior Receives His Service Dog

Carolina Canines for Service, Inc. is completing the third placement of a service dog with a wounded warrior. Joey Bozik, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom was severely injured in Iraq in October 2004 and is a triple amputee. Joey, a native of Wilmington, is receiving the third service dog trained in the Carolina Canines for Veterans program at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Joshua is trained to assist Joey with his many daily tasks.


  • People with mobility limitations benefit from a service dog because the dog is trained to do different tasks, from helping individuals that use a wheelchair to assisting those who are still mobile but have stability issues
  • People with disabilities gain freedom, independence and a sense of self because of the service dog
  • Dogs best suited to assist people through service work are from the "working class" category, which include Labradors and Golden Retrievers, as well as mixes of these breeds
  • Some tasks a service dog does for a person include: Retrieving dropped/distant objects, Pulling wheelchairs and loading wheelchairs into vehicles, Retrieving dropped/distant objects, Pulling wheelchairs and loading wheelchairs into vehicles, Opening doors and cabinets, 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
  • Each person receives a service dog valued at $38,000


  • National pilot program developed by Carolina Canines and the Camp Lejeune Brig called “Carolina Canines for Veterans”
  • Participating dogs have been rescued from local shelters
  • Carolina Canines on site at the Brig 2 to 5 days a week
  • Dog training cycle lasts 9 to 15 months
  • Purposes: Assist in the rehabilitation of prisoners , Train and certify dogs for service
    Provide service dogs to wounded warriors with mobility limitations
  • How it works: Brig staff and Prison Psychologist select primary and alternate handlers, Handlers chosen based on custody classification, sentence remaining, social worker recommendations, All training dogs are between 9 months and 2 years old, have come from shelters or rescues and are evaluated on temperament, aptitude to work and health before entering the program, Handlers and dogs are housed together in a dormitory and follow written procedures on everything from feeding to recreation

Individual contributors, Veterans organizations, corporate and civic groups, fundraisers and grants fund CCFS. For more information, call (866) 910-3647 or visit http://www.carolinacanines.org/.