Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Unwrapping the Gift

Unwrapping the Gift – by Donna Sweetman

I was first introduced to Carolina Canines at the New Hanover Kennel Club Dog Show in 1999. I talked with the folks there and knew I was interested in fostering a puppy, but it was not the right time in my life. Later that year, I received their newsletter that rekindled my interest and it got me to call. It was still not a good time for me to bring a puppy home as I was in the process of selling my house and moving into another, but I started to attend classes to learn more and see how the training was done. I was concerned about giving up the dog at the end of the training time and I had a dog at home that I was not sure how she would react. Then, one day I received a call from Rick. He had a black Labrador puppy that needed a foster parent.

Gideon came into my life after I drove to South Carolina to pick him up and it was love at first sight. My world changed and my purpose changed. For me, when I heard how just one little task that the dog can do can have a big impact on a person’s life, I knew this was something I could be a part of for a long time.

Gideon was my first and only puppy. He was with me for 18 months before he went to his advanced trainer. I learned a lot in that time and enjoyed working on his basic obedience skills with him, teaching the foundation tasks he would need for the future, and taking him on outings. Gideon was the most difficult for me to let go of, but one way to let go of him was to channel my emotions and newly found purpose into another dog.

Because of my demanding job, taking another puppy would have been very challenging, but, thankfully, I was given the opportunity to train a dog moving into advanced training, Bekah. Since that time, I have worked with Marcus, Rapha, Zaccheus, Reuben, Maya and Judah. Judah will be placed sometime this year and all the others but Marcus have been successfully placed with their partner. Marcus was disqualified due to hip dysplasia at nearly two years old, a sad reality of working with these incredible animals.

I enjoy the opportunity to learn new things and to teach the dogs the skills. To work with the dogs and see their hidden potential be unlocked through positive reward and encouragement is a wonderful experience. I became really passionate about the training while working with Rapha. I had the opportunity to teach a new skill to Rapha that had not been taught before; a skill to help a person get into bed by scooping the person’s legs onto the bed. The first time we did it correctly was an unbelievable sense of accomplishment.

Since beginning with Gideon, I have worked with the puppies, tweeners (7 – 18 months old), and advanced dogs. As a volunteer, I have been able to grow with the organization and now teach the intermediate obedience and foundation skills to the foster families and tweeners. Seeing a client meet their dog for the first time and watching the team training is magical. While giving up the dogs does not get easier, I look forward to it with nervousness and excitement. Most of all, I look forward to the opportunity to start working with a new dog and unwrapping the gift they are capable of being.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Heel 2 Heal - New Pet Therapy Program

Carolina Canines for Service, a Wilmington, N.C.-based non-profit that provides quality-trained service dogs to people with disabilities, at no cost, launched a new animal therapy training program developed by President/CEO Rick Hairston.

The new Carolina Canines for Therapy training program’s mission is to improve the quality of life for people though animal visitation. People and their pets, which have graduated from basic obedience courses, and completed Canine Good Citizens certification can enroll in Carolina Canines’ six-week preparation class that trains the team for volunteering at hospitals, public schools and special-care facilities.

Hairston began animal therapy training in 2002 using the Delta Society’s training curriculum. In January, he realized the need for a new curriculum that included more hands-on preparation prior to visitation, which no similar programs offered. Also unlike other programs, the completion of training includes a 20-point assessment of the animal and a criminal background check of the handler. Hairston developed Carolina Canines for Therapy along with Michele Godlevski, the owner of Teamworks Dog Training, Raleigh, N.C., whose organization became the first affiliate program.

Currently, Carolina Canines animal therapy program volunteers 1000 hours of time in the community each year for approximately 30 local facilities, including New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Lower Cape Fear Hospice Life Care Center and Hermitage House, as well as New Hanover County Schools.

“A dog has the ability to bring joy and happiness to a sick patient, shorten a hospital stay, assist with therapeutic interventions and comfort a child, as long as the animal receives proper training to prepare for these interactions,” said Hairston. “Our comprehensive, hands-on approach is really what sets us apart from other programs.”

Enrollment in the training program costs $135 with additional fees at the completion of the course. Anyone interested in registering with their dog for the next class, scheduled to begin February 24, can contact Carolina Canines at (910) 362-8181 or info@carolinacanines.org.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Demin for Dogs - Join the Cause

Talk, our marketing and PR corporate sponsor, announced that they would be implementing a Denim For Dogs day, where employees are allowed to wear blue jeans to work each Friday for a suggested donation of $5 to their philanthropic initiative Project Pet Project. Stepping out in the pawfront of philanthropic efforts, Talk is the lead dog for innovative ideas. Employees have the opportunity to dress casually once a week at the office and they are giving back within the community they work; helping us to help others.

We know that the folks at Talk would be happy to share how their Denim for Dogs day program works and how your company can join the pack of philanthropic businesses in our community.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Many Benefits of Volunteering!

You may find yourself in a tough situation due to the current economy and out of a job. So what do with the free time you have when you're not job hunting? Have you considered volunteer? Volunteering in your community is a great way to help out while reaping many benefits yourself.

Learn or develop a new skill
It is never too late to learn new skills and no reason why you should stop adding to your knowledge just because you are in employment or have finished education. Planning and implementing a major fundraising event can develop goal setting, planning and budgeting skills. Supervising and training other volunteers helps to develop supervisory and training skills. For example; chairing a committee for the annual Carolina Canines' Walk For Those Who Can't.

Take part in YOUR community
Volunteering is about helping others and having a positive impact on other people. What better way is there to connect with your commmunity and give a little back? As a volunteer, you return to society some of the benefits that society gives you.

Boost your career options
A survey carried out by TimeBank through Reed Executive showed that among 200 of the UK’s leading businesses
73% of employers would recruit a candidate with volunteering experience over one without.
94% of employers believe that volunteering can add to skills.
94% of employees who volunteered to learn new skills had benefited either by getting their first job, improving their salary, or being promoted.

Volunteering makes the heart grow stronger
Research suggests that volunteering is particularly beneficial to the health of older adults and those serving 100 hours annually. According to the report:
A study of adults age 65 and older found that the positive effect of volunteering on physical and mental health is due to the personal sense of accomplishment an individual gains from his or her volunteer activities.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Have You Formed Your Team?

It's easy you know, just click on the firstgiving page for Carolina Canines http://www.firstgiving.com/carolinacanines click the "Get Started" button and fill in the information. Then, send an email to everyone you know to help support your Team in the 2009 Walk for Those Who Can't on March 28, 2009, Wrightsville Beach Loop.

Join the teams already registered: Strut for Service Dogs, Delta Mae's Devotees, Chatam and Bo's Walk for Service Dogs. Don't be left out in the doghouse!

Get online, form your team, send emails to family, friends, co-workers and see if you can be the top team for raising funds to help us, help others!