Valuable Info – New Blog to Come SOON


Three girls on sofaMy passion and ambition is to detail any and all information about dogs. Rescues, habits, service dogs, anything and everything about the who, what, why and even where of life with dogs!

So keep your eyes peeled as I hope to be announcing the celebratory opening issue very soon!

Thank you all … feel free to ask questions, make comments, and even donations of information including text and/or photos!

~ Happy Trails

Dog Rescue in Action – Students Impact the Future


 Three girls on sofa

 

When Julie Ogden tells her Woodcliff Middle School science students about her volunteer work at The Last Resort Animal Rescue in West Milford, NJ, they want to help.

 

Unable to assist the rescue in traditional ways due to their ages, Ogden’s students formed Woodcliff Animal Rescue Engineers (WCare) in 2008.  Through the extracurricular club sponsored by Ogden and technology teacher Fred Matzan, students use technology skills learned in the classroom to promote animal rescue.

 

The partnership between WCare and The Last Resort exemplifies an increasingly popular education model and a national trend in animal rescue.  Service learning combines community service with social and academic learning.  Service-learning projects allow students to gain firsthand knowledge and hands-on experience while effecting change in their community.  These projects encourage a high level of engagement in the cause and the learning process. 

 

Students become more concerned citizens and are more likely to stay committed to a cause after the project is completed,” says Ogden.  “Likewise, students become more active learners and are better equipped for future academic and social success.” 

Last Resort pet adoption event in NJ

More than 20 WCare members meet weekly to create digital videos of The Last Resort’s dogs and cats, aiding in their adoptions by drawing attention to their unique qualities.  With these videos, Ogden’s students make a significant contribution to the rescue.

 

“Unlike many of our adult volunteers, children are tech savvy,” Ogden says.  “They have the skills and the time to create persuasive videos, incorporate music to set the mood and post them on You Tube for Potential adopters to view.” 

 

WCare is a valuable experience for the students too.  “In addition to practicing their technical skills, students learn how to edit photos and sound to reach people with a specific message,” Ogden explains.  “They have to carefully consider purpose, audience and communication strategies.  The world is changing rapidly.  More people are watching videos than reading.  These skills are going to be invaluable to these students’ futures.” 

 

WCare students are also developing leadership and social skills through engagement with their community.  Students are fostering dogs with their families and assisting with adoption events.  They are coordinating fundraisers and attending community events to raise awareness for rescue, and several past members have started rescue clubs in their high schools.

 

“These children are becoming concerned citizens who will be a force to be reckoned with,” says Ogden.

 

The Haven-Friends for Life in Raeford, NC, takes a different approach to service learning with its animal rescue internship program.  The program offers people 18 or older hands-on learning in administration, photography, building and contracting, graphic design, dog grooming, writing and outdoor recreation.  Internships require a commitment of 20 hours per week with at least one eight hour weekend day. 

 

The Haven started its internship program in 2009 but always has welcomed people seeking an educational experience with the rescue.  When David Osgood, of Dedham, MA, was stationed at Ft. Bragg, NC, the animal loving-sergeant began volunteering at The Haven.  Upon realizing the high level of need at the rescue, he decided to formalize nd promote the internship program. 

 

“The Haven has a real need for quality volunteers who are passionate and professional,” Osgood says.  “Volunteers work hard with no pay.  To have someone who is self-motivated do the job makes all the difference in this kind of work.  Our interns have wonderful drive and make The Haven a much stronger organization.

 

Osgood also recognizes the program’s benefits for the interns.  Our program gives interns a wealth of opportunities,” he says.  “They gain skills and, if they wish, credit hours while working for a good cause.  Employers today are happy if you have a degree, but what they really want to see on your resume is work experience.  If you can point to proven results – hours worked, projects completed – you will be far ahead.  This advantage is something The Haven can provide.”

 

Career preparation and an advantage in the work force are valuable benefits of service-learning experience at rescue organizations, especially for people interested in pursuing a shelter or veterinary career.  The Teen Track program at the Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA (AAWL) in Phoenix, focuses on teaching sixth through 12th grade students about animal rescue.

AZ Animal Welfare League & SPCA during Teen Tracks training program

 

Teen Trackers receive in-depth training in animal body language and animal handling skills, assist with daily care of the pets, observe and shelter veterinary clinic staff members, participate in guest presentations and education field trips, and help lead shelter programs.

 

Students participate in a minimum six weekend shifts during the semester-long course.  As they complete training and accomplish projects and volunteer tasks, students advance through the program’s levels: caregiver, handler and curator.  With each level comes advanced training and greater responsibility. 

 

Program coordinator Rachael Gardner of Phoenix says most Teen Trackers participate in the program because they want to work in animal-related careers.  “The Teen Track program gives them a head start,” she says.  “Students also learn responsibility and gain public speaking, problem solving, team building and leadership skills.”

 

In return, Teen Trackers help to change staff members’ perceptions about teenagers’ capabilities.  “I think there are perceptions in our society that teenagers are self-absorbed and don’t care,” Gardner says.  “The Teen Track program shows they can accomplish a goal and help society.”

 

Service-learning collaborations offer numerous benefits to students while helping to advance animal rescue goals and create long-term animal rescue supporters. 

 

“I can’t think of anything more empowering than these students discovering they have the ability to change the world,” Ogden says.  “The thousands of animals I have rescued pale in comparison to the impact these students will have on the future.”

 

 

 

 

Does Life Hit You Hard … Is Your Life Good?


  

There’s so much we can learn from pets, especially dogs.  I have three female dogs – my little angels on earth.  Their devotion, undying love and friendship all are mine.  They have an inner sense of our feelings too.  When we’re happy – they are happy!  When we are distressed, they offer their hand (a paw) and kisses (or licks) to help ease the pain.  We have so much to learn from them in our daily lives.

Recently I watched the movie “City of Angels” which stars Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan.  She portrays a doctor who loses her first patient and then cannot understand why she suddenly feels so small.  He portrays one of God’s Angels here on earth watching over us.  And he tries to console and help her with the anguish and emotional doubts she suffers.

Later on in the movie Cage (the Angel) asks Meg (the doctor) why humans cry.  Her best effort at an answer is, “Maybe … maybe emotion becomes so intense your body just can’t contain it.  Your mind and your feelings become too powerful and your body weeps.”

That’s it isn’t it?  When I lost my husband Martin by suicide, the overwhelming emotion was more than my body could repress or control and my body wept.  We are designed with an internal mechanism to help us in times of brutal emotion, pain and suffering.  Thus it is why this type of grief takes a long time to work through.  And although it has been two years since his suicide, I still have those moments though they are fewer than they were two years ago.  We never really know how we will react to hardship but our body and mind are made to do what they need to do.   Randy Pausch said, “It’s not how hard you hit.  It’s how hard you get hit … and keep moving forward.”

Which leads me to realize that if we did not know fear, pain, or hunger and never heard music or encounter a magnificent sunrise how could we say we truly felt anything?  Strangely though it may seem, we learn to cope with pain and suffering only by experiencing both.  Just like we enjoy the summer growth of flowers, plants and trees we also admire their brilliant foliage in the Fall as they ready to die and rest through the cold of winter.  I believe C.S. Lewis said it best, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

One of my goals is to truly enjoy life and enjoy my girls – yes, the dogs.  Today – Sunday – I wanted to finish this blog in order to post it.  But it was a bright and beautiful day and the girls kept staring at me as if to say, “Mom, aren’t we going to have some fun?  Can we go out and play?”

So what did mom decide to do?  Work or play … it’s a difficult chore for me, knowing how I was raised to do the ‘right’ thing.  Surprisingly, I realized the ‘right’ thing to do in my ‘2nd chance with my girls’ was to go outdoors with them and play in the pool.  And we had the absolute best time we have ever shared!  And you see, I am finishing this article for my blog, just a bit later than I had on my personal timeframe.

Life is a mystery and I suppose we could agree that death is also.  It is said that there are no “do overs” in life.  But every now and then, I believe that we are gifted with a second chance.  I lost my one true love two years ago.  But God brought me my three little angels who love me like no other human could.  And the question remains: what am I going to do with it?  How am I going to play my second chance?  Stay tuned and I’ll let you know.  In the meantime I ask you, “How will you play your chance at life?”

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance.  Don’t wait until it’s too late!

I don’t know about the rest of you, however, as for me I’d like to say each day without regret, “Today I loved and lived life … and it was good!”

We Are Family – My Dogs and Me!


 

Dogs invite us into their world, and through that, our lives are deeply enriched.  My two beautiful white boxers, Miley and Casey, have brought me such happiness, love and calm after a terrible tragedy befell me.  They are a God-send.  I post this in order to celebrate our love and devotion for dogs, which in turn is reciprocated many times over by their love and devotion for us.

There is so much we can truly learn from dogs.  They teach us how to go with the flow of life.  And they are the kindest, most caring and devoted animals known to humankind. 
Dogs have become a part of our family and a part of our personal history. They live in the house with us; they sit and sleep together with us. They have brought something unique and fulfilling to our lives. They have loved us unconditionally and have taught us important lessons for better living — how to embrace life, how to enjoy the moment, how to let go when it’s time to let go, even when it seems way too soon.

While we struggle to figure out why we were put here on Earth, all a dog wants is to love and be loved — a powerful lesson for us all.

 

 

Furry Shrink

I’d double her life if I could —
we share a history.
When friends turn false, my dog stays true,
her head upon my knee.

She can erase my loneliness —
my pain melts in her eyes.
My dog lies close — she understands
what I cannot disguise.

 

I came across a couple of poems written about our love for dogs.

I think you’ll agree with their sentiments below.

 

 The Greeting

I open the door.
You are already
bounding to the door
with a wagging tail,
flashing teeth,
and four prancing paws.
Your healing power dissolves
the most difficult day
from memory.
A cold nose
and warm kisses
trigger a child’s laughter
from my heart.
I am a better human
for having you
in my life.

— Joan Noëldechen

 

 

 

Puppy Days

Bless this frisky puppy
Who’s into everything
His playful fresh behavior
Is like a day in spring

Remind me to be patient
When he’s chewed another book
Or races through the living room
With a newly laundered sock

He loves without condition
Gives me kisses every day
And greets me with a wagging tail
After I have been away

Like any other baby
He needs a lot of rest
When he falls asleep curled next to me
I know that I am blessed

— Louise Webster

 

 

 

Lessons

If I greeted everyone happily
Instead of eyeing with distrust
If I didn’t pass judgment
But accepted all
If I listened intently
With understanding in my eyes
If I brought comfort
All the time, no matter what
If I loved unconditionally
Without reservation
If I lived life more simply
Instead of worrying so much
If I played tirelessly
And didn’t work so hard
If I made people smile
Just by my presence in the room
If I experienced true joy
At the little things in life
Then I’d be the perfect friend
Just like my dog.