Twice-monthly we take Amber, our therapy dog and a permanent member of our group, to C.A.S.I. (Center for Active Seniors) in Davenport These people really look forward to her visits when they each have an opportunity to pet her and look into her loving eyes.
We have begun a Reading Assistance Dog program at the Rock Island Public Libraries. We bring Amber, Abel, and Connor. This helps the puppies develop patience and adds to their socialization experience. Children coming into the library are directed to the Children's Room for an opportunity to read to one of the dogs. The dogs offer companionship and are non-judgmental listeners. When a child is finished reading he gets a bookmark with a photo of the dog they read to. We have had five sessions so far, covering all three Rock Island Public Libraries. The Davenport libraries have contacted us to set up some sessions in the fall.
Rick's House of Hope is a center for grieving and traumatized children. They primarily offer support groups to children who have lost a loved one or whose families are going through divorce. On the closing evening of their Spring session we brought some of our dogs as examples of "community helpers". We told the children and parents about our group and gave them each time to spend with the dogs. During their summer day camp, Camp Good Grief, we brought the dogs for the kids outdoor recreation time. We let the kids share about how their pets help them to feel better when they feel sad, mad, or lonely, and each of the approximately forty-five children took a turn walking or running with one of the dogs. They were so excited and had lots of fun.
Gilda's Club Quad Cities is a cancer support community providing people living with cancer, and all who touch their lives, access to other people going through the same experience. We brought our dogs to Camp Abe Lincoln where some of the kids of Gilda's Club families were enjoying camp. Each child got a chance to walk one of the dogs and share how their pets have helped them.
We have also functioned as a "rescue" for dogs on occasion, making homes for dogs who had lost their homes for various reasons. In one case a 3-year-old Golden Retriever was donated to our group. This dog had a wonderful, calm personality and connected eye-to-eye with each person he met. After months of training we placed him with a local Vietnam veteran who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The dog has been a great help, helping him stay relaxed and focused on the here and now, instead of being distracted by traumatic memories. Other dogs we have rescued have not been suitable for assistance dog work, but we fostered them until permanent homes could be found.
We have two dogs who were donated by area breeders, as pups, to our organization: Abel, a 10-month-old black Labrador Retriever, and Connor, a 6-month-old yellow Lab. These puppies are well cared for and trained by Zig and Maria Salata at their home. The dogs are also taken to many locations in our community for a wide range of experiences. Recently Abel passed an obedience test with flying colors. As he is marked to be the future mobility dog for a local girl with cerebral palsy, he is currently being trained to pick up items and turn lights on and off, open doors and will soon learn to pull her wheelchair and carry her books at school.
Dinner with the Dogs
Join us the first Thursday of every month at a restaurant listed in our Calendar of Events. This is a way for those interested in what we do or those with questions to sit and talk with us. You can meet not only the staff but the clients that we are supporting. This is also an opportunity for our teams to practice their skills in a public setting. As a group we discuss all aspects of our lives with assistance dogs. For a person with an assistance dog there are not many people who understand what they go through on a daily basis. A support group puts you in contact with others such as yourself. This time together gives you an opportunity to discuss problems or occurances in your day-to-day life. This gives also your dog time to socialize with other assistance dogs and just be a dog.
Reading Assistance Dogs
Rock Island and Davenport Libraries will be participating in a Reading Assistance Dog program, where kids will get one-on-one reading time with our therapy dog and service dogs in training. This has proven to raise reading levels, the children relax and don't worry if they mispronounce a word or are reading fast enough. The dogs are impartial to their reading skill or level. Check our Calendar of Events for the time, date and location of upcoming R.A.D. sessions. If your school, library, or facility are interested in the dogs spending some time with your students, or clients, please contact Nancy.
If your school, organization or group is interested in learning more about assistance dogs, please contact Dawn or call 563-940-7373, and we would be happy to schedule a presentation.