Not only do dogs make great family pets but they do some amazing service in our community. I introduced you to my best friend Calli in a blog post last fall.
Calli passed her Good Canine Citizen Test after taking classes with Kelly of DoggonitNH last year and is now starting to do some therapy work. She is still a bit hyper and gets excited around some people but overall she does a good job. She has a long way to go to becoming a service dog like you see in the movies-right now she just helps students that are stressed during finals and helps students dealing with depression. It’s a really cool thing to see her in action and to see the smiles on the student’s faces! Don’t get me wrong one of these days I’d love for her to do more work helping others but we are starting out small! She has gone to Plymouth State University during finals this past winter and was asked to volunteer at St. Anselm College in the future.
Therapy Dogs come in all shapes and sizes but have a similar temperament of being friendly and they don’t mind being tugged on or hugged. You can see therapy dogs in hospitals, nursing homes, college campuses and helping those in hospice. Therapy dogs are also sent in to places after natural disasters or man made crises. Studies show that therapy dogs can help raise happiness in your body and lower stress and anxiety. Recently Therapy dogs were sent to Newtown in Connecticut and in Boston after the marathon bombings.
Here in New Hampshire we have some amazing dog heroes.
Canine Companions for Independence is a very cool non profit organization. It’s nation wide with over 3,000 volunteers and we have our very own chapter in the state. People sign up to raise a puppy and they teach it to do over 40 commands such as pulling a wheelchair, pushing elevator buttons, picking up keys, opening doors and even taking receipts and packages! Once the dog is capable of doing these commands the person then gives him/her up to be someone’s companion free of charge! They are so well recognized that Canine Companions even marched in President Obama’s Inauguration Parade this year!
Being a teacher I get to hear many amazing and inspiring stories. Last year we had a guest speaker, Randy Pierce, come to our school. He is a Nashua man that went blind in his 20’s. He and his dog Mighty Quinn started a non profit called 2020 Vision Quest, which inspires people to reach beyond adversity and achieve their highest goals — personal, professional, and philanthropic. They lead by example, in climbing the highest peaks and in sharing successes and challenges with each other. Mighty Quinn and Randy have hiked the 48 highest peaks in NH! (WOW!) You can even join Randy and Quinn on a hike, how cool is that?! If you haven’t heard him speak before, this is a must!
Yesterday we honored and thanked the amazing men and women that sacrificed their lives for our freedom! Did you know dogs serve too? Dogs have been used in combat dating back to the Egyptians and Romans. Today dogs are an essential part of combat, whether they are protecting their handler or finding bombs. The first monument to pay tribute to combat dogs in the States was just unveiled in California and honors dogs that have served since WWII. In the early 90’s, the Always Faithful Memorial was dedicated in Guam. The hit TV show NCIS also featured an episode on combat dogs this year!
The NH State Police K-9 Unit has been active since the 60’s. This unit is involved in over 1,000 missions each year. You can often see these dogs working Bike Week in Laconia and during Nascar races in Loudon. The dogs can specialize in drugs, explosives and search and rescue.
With all of this being said, we truly do owe a lot to man’s best friend.