Help People. Help Dogs.
Yesterday, the University of Missouri celebrated the opening of their satellite offices in Blue Springs, MO. Among the departments who will have offices in this new facility is the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. Specifically there will be offices for the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction. They invited Anthony and Leonidas to join them as therapy dog ambassadors and examples of the benefits of human-animal interaction. Also in attendance was Hero’s mom with her other Rottweiler, Halo, who is a Registered Therapy Dog and a Certified Search and Rescue Dog, among other things. We had a lot of fun meeting people and acting on behalf of the Center.
Game Dog Guardian truly values the efforts of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction (ReCHAI). The human-animal bond, and particularly the human-canine bond, is at the core of GDG’s philosophy and mission. We believe strongly in the benefits of that bond and strength of the symbiotic relationship we share. Where veterinary medicine focuses on the health and well-being of animals, ReCHAI is set up to study the health and well being of people and animals and how they can benefit each other.
From the ReCHAI website:
ReCHAI is designed to:
-Develop a program for research and education to study the health benefits of human-animal interaction (HAI).
-Promote the science of HAI.
-Further the understanding and value of the relationship between humans and animals.
-Document evidence demonstrating Animal Assisted Activity (AAA) as a beneficial form of complementary therapy.
-Celebrate and better document the benefits of HAI.
-Foster educational and research opportunities for MU students.
-Collaborate with other centers nationally and internationally to promote HAI.
-Foster public understanding of benefits of HAI.
ReCHAI Research Projects:
-"Pet Attachment," Health and Well-Being of Ethnic Elders" studied to what extent ethnic elders are attached to their pets and whether pets are part of their fitness activities.
-"Walking for Healthy Hearts" study motivated residents of public housing to walk with a trained visitor dog.
-“Pet Pals” study of older adults newly relocated to a nursing home.
-"Walk A Hound, Lose A Pound" a community shelter dog walking study providing adults and families with children an innovative way to increase physical activity.
-"Pet Owner Intensive Care Unit Visitation Policies in Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospitals" surveyed VMTH to learn about their policies for owner visitation of pets hospitalized in the ICU.
-"Owner Perceptions of Visits with their Hospitalized Pets" asked dog owners their perspective of visiting their dog while it was hospitalized in the ICU.
-"Ask the Community: Barriers & Facilitators to Exercise & Physical Activity" aims to identify existing exercise and physical activity resources in the community.
-"Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound and Stay Fit for Seniors" studies effects of shelter dog walking on fitness and social support of older adults.
Visiting veterans with our therapy dogs has always been a top priority of the GDG Delta Force. We just finished the process to become volunteers at the Topeka VA and met some great people who work in Veterans Affairs at the event yesterday. ReCHAI is launching a new program we find very exciting. It is a “Vets and Shelter Dogs” program that will pair veterans and their families with dogs from shelters. The families will work with the dogs with the goal of the dogs learning to help with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and exploring any other benefits from the pairing. It is a brand new program, still in its formation stage, but it is a program we are keenly interested in and will be keeping an eye on.
We were grateful to be invited to the event yesterday and we had a great time. Thanks to the Research Center for Human-Canine Interaction! We look forward to working with you in the future.
The Delta Force had a busy week this week. We visited Baker on Monday and Tuesday and visited Lawrence Wesleyan Church on Sunday:
Anthony, Leonidas and Liam were guests at two Baker University “Ethics” classes on Monday and Tuesday of last week. This is the third time they have been invited to speak at the classes alongside Midge Grinstead of the Lawrence Humane Society. Anthony and Midge are asked to appear when the class is discussing “animal ethics” issues. It is an opportunity for them to speak in a higher education environment about the issues that are important to Game Dog Guardian, introduce the students to the dogs, let them ask questions, and enjoy an interactive experience.
Often in ethics issues the debates exist in a gray area where there is not a clearly defined “good” side or “bad” side. At Baker, they discuss how often-times the competing interests in animal ethics debates are the needs of the animals versus the needs of people. Often, the needs of people are more superficial. (e.g. the fur industry where the discussion is about the use of animals in fashion and how they are treated.) But other times, the discussion is about more trivial issues such as the use of animals in testing medicine that can save people’s lives.
Each time the dogs visit, Midge and Anthony are able to show the class that with people and pet animals (on issues such as abuse, cruelty, neglect, fighting, etc.) they see common viewpoints and fewer, if any, opposing ones. They discuss the correlation between poor conditions for people and poor conditions for animals. They also address the cycles of violence and the high correlation between animal abuse and violence toward people. Additionally, with Leonidas present, Anthony focuses on how breed bans contribute to problems for people and animals in our communities – by failing to make people safer and by diminishing the quality of life for other breeds of dogs by increasing shelter intake and euthanasia numbers.
It was a great opportunity to share our GDG philosophy with a college ethics class: Help people. Help Dogs.
(We should note that this visit was done as a part of the Lawrence Humane Society and not through the Delta Society. As a visiting team with the Delta Society we only visit one dog with one person - never two dogs with one person)
Lawrence Wesleyan Church
On Sunday Anthony and Leonidas were asked to attend services at the Lawrence Wesleyan Church. The Pastor did a sermon on “trust” and invited GDG to his church to use the human-canine bond as a visual demonstration of trust. Pastor Nate was particularly interested the process of rebuilding trust with rescued dogs that have been abused or treated poorly.
The beautiful tragedy of that situation is that many times it takes very little effort at all to repair the trust in the human-canine bond. Anthony and Leo were able to share with the congregation that people betray dogs on a daily basis and, for better or worse, the dogs just keep coming back for more. For the purposes of a Christian sermon, the love of a dog may be the closest thing to unconditional love that people ever experience.
Anthony shared Leonidas’ story and how his road to recovery had much greater physical obstacles than psychological ones. Even after Leo was betrayed by people, and abused so badly it resulted in the loss of his rear leg and both rear feet, he still trusted and loved Anthony as soon as Leo came to his home - instantly. It was through his trust and bond with Anthony that he was able to pass his Delta Society evaluation, and it was that bond they shared on Sunday. They also discussed some of the steps GDG takes with dogs who do need more time and help to trust people.
In addition to the topic of trust, Anthony addressed some of the core principles of GDG – the social issues beneath dog issues - and drew parallels between issues affecting people and contributing to the reputations of pit bulls. He also discussed the importance of not judging entire groups based on the actions of a few. Leo and Anthony even took a trip down to the daycare and spent some time with the children at church. Leonidas LOVES kids. One little boy said “I wish he could have his leg back.”
We were received warmly, and even had a chance to reach out to people who were a little skeptical. Overall, it was a very nice experience and we are grateful to the Lawrence Wesleyan Church. Leonidas slept the entire afternoon after a busy morning helping Pastor Nate teach about
We are proud to introduce the Game Dog Guardian Delta Society Registered Therapy Dogs –
or maybe the GDG visiting
Liam is a Scorpio and likes long walks on the…well he just likes long walks. He loves to play at doggie daycare and at home with his “brothers and sisters.” Liam has his CGC and loves to learn new tricks. His favorite tricks are begging, speaking, nodding left, and sneaking up on his treats (although his very favorite trick might be trying to guess what trick you’re going to say before you say it). Liam even won “best trick” at a local Humane Society event. He loves kids and can’t wait to visit them. Liam is always very excited to meet brave veterans and also has an affinity for hearing stories about the “old days” from senior citizens. Liam has a calming energy and works well to comfort and win hearts.
aka Leonidas the 3-legged dog, aka Leo, aka Leon “the ladies man” loves EVERYBODY. He prefers places where he can let his natural exuberance for life shine through – at least a little bit. Leo hasn’t yet met a situation or person that doesn’t make him happy. Leo enjoys walking, sitting, napping, eating, going in his kennel, getting out of his kennel, visiting the vet, getting his nails trimmed, taking a bath, getting in the car, getting out of the car, going into a room, leaving a room, playing, not playing, meeting people, being alone, being inside, being outside, getting on the couch, getting off the couch, drinking water and grabbing dryer sheets out of laundry piles…among other things. He has just begun his illustrious career as a 3-legged agility dog, but is still “enthusiastically cautious” when it comes to the “dog walk” obstacle. Leo also loves to meet veterans and loves kids. He is always up for a good play with whoever (or whatever) and likes to remind us that he has 3 legs (and only 2 paws) so the rest of us can keep up.
This page will be their “diary” of sorts. We will tell you the story of how they got to where they are and the stories of their adventures now. Hopefully along the way we will tell the same stories of some of the people they meet.