Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 A Year in Review

Looking back at 2009, it has been a busy year filled with challenges and blessings.

In January, we launched Carolina Canines for Therapy as our own program after spending months developing the course material, registration and assessment. The program includes an affiliate through Teamwork’s Dog Training, Raleigh, NC and for the first time, the therapy program spans multiple locations in North Carolina. The third wounded veteran received his service dog from the Carolina Canines from Veterans (CCV) program in mid-January.

In February we were in full swing preparing for the 3rd annual Walk for Those WhoCan’t having pre-registered close to 30 teams stepping out to support the mission of Carolina Canines.
March found us saying good-bye to the first service dog placed, Saint. Joshua, the service dog placed in January was named the Booker Willoughby Service Dog of the Year by Chapter of Mega Tau Sima (OTS) at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in Blackburg, VA. And, the Walk for Those Who Can’t was held raising $20,000 thanks to the many volunteers, supporters, teams and individual walkers.

April brought us to the Coastal Living Show and the Azalea Festival Parade with preparation underway for PawJam in early May. We had to say good-bye to another friend, Service Dog Samson as he crossed the Rainbow Bridge. We also welcomed a new compliment of Board Members that are truly dedicated to Carolina Canines mission and services and share the passion to continue to service our community.

May events included PawJam and Vets Helping Vets, a fundraiser sponsored by North College Road Animal Hospital providing wellness checks for dogs and cats for a donation to the Carolina Canines for Veterans Program. And, the Ms. Atkinson’s 6th grade class of Shallotte Middle School raised over $500 in a fundraiser for Carolina Canines for Veterans.

June was busy serving two more wounded veterans with their service dogs from the CCV program, adding new dogs into the CCV program one coming from Tails U Win and Adopt-An-Angel, a new puppy in the civilian service dog program and Carolina Canines for Veterans was named the SPCA Shelter of the Week for our work with rescue dogs.

July celebrated a new pup into the CCV program donated by Carolina Animal Protection as a training exercise for the prisoners to learn how to train a young dog and we fully engaged in the world of social media managing a FaceBook page for Carolina Canines. August kicked off a fundraiser, Power of Ten, in which 10 people donate $10 each and ask 10 friends to do the same.

September we recognized our Volunteers for all their service in the annual Volunteer Appreciation Picnic, welcomed two new puppies donated by Georgette and Jim Lynn, Serendipity Dry Pond Kennels, into the civilian training program, worked with our 6th wounded veteran as she received her service dog Isaac, and celebrated national recognition as a recipient of a Newman’s Own Award through Fisher House Foundation to reward ingenuity and innovation for programs that benefit service men and women and their families.

Service Dog Titus finished up his advanced training with a training mission to Disney in October. Our very own volunteer, Donna Sweetman was awarded the New Hanover County Volunteer of the Year and was one of 20 recipients of the North Carolina Volunteer Service Award Governors Medallion of Honor. October also found advanced trainers, Stephen LeQuire and Caroline O’Brien working with clients Kathy and Diane as they received their service dogs. Ms. Atkinson’s 6th grade class at Shallotte Middle School was at it again, this time over $600 was raised for the CCV program. The first annual VolleyPaws tournament was held at Captain Bill’s, Shallotte Rotary sponsored the first annual Coastal Hounds Walk the Town and at the end of October we were excited to launch a newly designed website for Carolina Canines thanks to our corporate sponsor and their creative design team, Talk Inc. and Home Health Testing provided an incredible look at the work done by Carolina Canines in a new video titled Triple Win.

We welcomed November with the 7th wounded veteran receiving his service dog, Titus and a new relationship with Air Compassion for Veterans making transportation possible for our wounded veterans to attend team training in Wilmington, NC. A new puppy for the civilian program donated by Richard and Carolyn Burton joined the family and a team of dynamic volunteers came together to plan the 2010 Walk for Those Who Can’t with a new location at Hugh MacRae Park

And in December the President/CEO reflected upon how he began his passion for service dog training and commitment to continue to service those in need. Christmas week found us celebrating the arrival of Stella, a 9-week old Anatolian Shepherd donated by Nancy and Ken Wargas of Full Circle Farms.

As we look back on 2009, we were faced with many challenges that we managed to deal with. Special thanks to our funders, volunteers and supporters for their unwavering commitment to support our mission. Without your support, we could not have accomplished all that we did. Carolina Canines for Service provided $280,000 in services to people with disabilities. Our volunteers logged an average of 2500 hours each month with their time valued at just over $600,000. We registered 79 Carolina Canines for Therapy teams who continue to touch the lives of thousands of people in their communities with pet therapy visitations. The total value of services provided by Carolina Canines for Service exceeded just over $800,000 for 2009.

We look forward to continuing to serve our communities. Wishing you and yours a Happy 2010!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Commitment

People ask me when I knew I was going to pursue training service dogs as a career. There are actually two answers to that question. The first answer is that when I was learning advanced training with Kojak, a big black lab in St. Louis, I knew I would do this for a long time. I went to class one night and witnessed the meeting of a young boy and his new service dog Crocker. The delight, happiness, joy, and glow that came from that 10 year old boy and that dog was nothing short of God’s miracle. The flame of passion was lit at that exact moment, and I knew I would do this for a long period of time. What I didn’t know then was shortly I would be leaving St. Louis and the life I knew there for Wilmington, North Carolina. I was very comfortable in St. Louis, with a lifetime of family, friends, recreation, and church. I had no intentions of leaving St. Louis for anywhere else in the world. He had other plans, and in September of 1996 I moved to Wilmington.

Moving to Wilmington was a big change, and as I looked for an organization to volunteer with, I found no service dog organizations existed in North Carolina at that time. So through a lot of prayer and soul searching on December 1st, 1996 Carolina Canines for Service came into existence; which is the second part of that answer.

I can still see that boy and Crocker, and a chill goes up my spine every single time I think of them. We have now placed 38 service dogs with our program and the same feeling, the excitement for the client, and that very soul identifying chill happens with each and every one. As times become more trying, we will continue to train as many quality service dogs as possible, whether it be one at a time or 300 at a time— that is my true commitment to the One we celebrate this Christmas Season.

Merry Christmas,
Rick Hairston

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Disney Give A Day.Get A Day.

Carolina Canines is pleased to be a part of the 2010 Disney Give A Day. Get A Day.

"Give a Day. Get a Disney Day." is a program that celebrates and inspires volunteerism.

Starting January 1, 2010, you may sign up for the program from As part of the sign up process, you will search and select from a list of eligible volunteer opportunities with participating organizations. After you sign up and complete your chosen volunteer activity, and the HandsOn Network has verified your service, you will receive an email from Disney prompting you to log in to your account and print a vouchers that may be redeemed for your free ticket to a Walt Disney World® or Disneyland® theme park.

If you plan to celebrate at the Disneyland® Resort, you can choose to redeem the voucher for a 1-day ticket to either Disneyland® Park or Disney's California Adventure® Park. If you plan to celebrate at Walt Disney World® Resort, you can redeem the voucher for a 1-day ticket to any of the following 4 theme parks: Magic Kingdom® theme park, Disney's Animal Kingdom® theme park, Epcot® or Disney's Hollywood Studios™ theme park. Tickets are not valid for admission to a Disney Water Park admission, DisneyQuest® Indoor Interactive Theme Park or Disney's World Wide of Sports®Complex.

See FAQ and rules on
Things to Remember:
· You may pre-register at and receive an email from Disney reminding you of this opportunity. Before January 1, 2010, you can provide Disney with your contact information so that you can be reminded of when sign up begins and receive fun downloads in the meantime.
· Starting January 1, 2010, you may search for volunteer opportunities from this site and—once you've selected one, of course for Carolina Canines for Service, —sign up to volunteer and complete your service.
· You must sign up for an eligible volunteer opportunity through Only volunteer opportunities signed up through the are eligible.
· Volunteer time beginning January 1, 2010 will be counted towards the Give A Day. Get A Day ONLY if you have registered on
· Your volunteer time will be verified by the organization you volunteer for. All guests who participate in the program will be notified by Disney by email when their volunteer project has been verified.

What Will You Celebrate?