Review and Giveaway: Angel on a Leash by David Frei

It’s February, and you know what that means — it’s almost time for the 136th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show! (More rhapsodizing on my other blog to come soon.)

David Frei, the voice of the Westminster Kennel Club and its Director of Communications, lends his extensive knowledge of the world of dog shows to the show for the 23rd year in a row. For the other 364 days a year (this is a leap year), David is also known as an author, a speaker, and the founder of the pet-assisted therapy organization, Angel on a Leash.

Frei’s book, also entitled Angel on a Leash, should inspire anyone considering work in pet-assisted therapy. He describes the circumstances that brought him, with his wife Cherilyn and their Brittanys Belle and Teigh, from Seattle to New York. When he joined the Westminster Kennel Club, he was able to parlay his experience in therapy dog work and an idea for community outreach into a pet-assisted therapy program for dogs and children at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in New York and at the Ronald McDonald House (where Cherilyn was the chaplain). Soon, dog-handler teams from Angel on a Leash were visiting multiple hospitals (including facilities in Portland, OR and Milwaukee, WI) — including some that had never allowed therapy teams before.

The book is filled with anecdotes — about the patients and their interactions with the dogs, about lessons learned on visits, about New York landmarks, about Angel benefits and awards ceremonies, about David Frei’s role as a dog show judge on Sex and the City… but most of all, about the dogs. The Freis’ own Brittanys Teigh and Belle take center stage, of course, followed by their Grace and Angel, Dakota the Golden, and many other canine characters. Some of the Westminster Best in Show winners have taken to therapy-dog careers after their big wins, including Uno the Beagle, Rufus the Colored Bull Terrier, Stump the Sussex Spaniel, and Hickory the Scottish Deerhound.

Angel on a Leash is a testament to the healing power of animals, and to the seeming miracles they can perform simply by doing what they always do: offering unconditional love.

For more information about the organization, Angel on a Leash, visit their website.

Angel on a Leash therapy dogs are certified through the Delta Society. Other nationally-based pet assisted therapy certifying organizations include Therapy Dogs International and Therapy Dogs, Inc..

Want to Be Inspired?

We’re giving away a copy of Angel on a Leash to a lucky winnah! All you have to do is follow these Wicked Simple Rules:

Wicked Simple Rules

  1. Visit the Facebook fan page for Angel on a Leash and give them a Like.
  2. If you haven’t done so already, please stop by the Shaggy Dog Stories Facebook page and leave us a Like, too.
  3. Leave a comment here on the blog about why you’d like to read the book. Comments left on the Facebook page, alas, do not count.

As always, the lucky winnah is drawn at random by comment number, using a number-picking script.

Closing date for the drawing is Wednesday, February 8.

Responsible Dog Ownership Month

Duncan the Bearded Collie Canine Good Citizen

Duncan the Wonder Dog was my first CGC dog.

September is AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Month. Not only will you find RDO Days events taking place all over the country, but this year, you can even participate online as well. You can share your “acts” of responsible dog ownership, whatever you perceive them to be, through Facebook, Twitter, email, YouTube, or Flickr. Whatever. Sometimes you just have to get away from the computer and go do something.

I will be  offering Canine Good Citizen (CGC) tests at a Meet the Breeds event on Sunday, September 19 with my Distraction Dog Extraordinaire, Dinah Moe. Offered by the Vacationland Dog Club and the York County Kennel Club of Maine, the event takes place from 9-4 at Tractor Supply on Route 1 in Scarborough, ME. Participants at the event include various local breed clubs (including the Bearded Collie Club of Maine, thankyouverymuch), obedience clubs, rescues, and other groups of dog lovers. One of the obedience clubs will offer a rally course that anyone can try — so if you already do rally, come on by and get some practice in. If you don’t, come by anyway and see what I’ve been raving about on one of my other dog blogs. We expect the local press to drop by, including Downeast Dog News — plus you never know who else might show up. Last year, a photographer from FetchDog came by, looking for models. They ended up hiring one of my friend’s puppies to model some doggie products for the catalog and website.

The CGC test costs $15, but the rest of the event is free, and of course your well-behaved dog is welcome. We don’t usually have vendors or much of anything for sale at this event, though some of the rescues might have fundraising items available. The obedience clubs will have their fall class schedules available.

If you want to take the test, just drop by with your dog and bring the following stuff with you:

  • Plain buckle, snap, or martingale collar. No prongs, chains, halters, or harnesses, please. It’s OK if the collar has tags on it.
  • 6-foot plain leash. Don’t bring a Flexi — which is probably good advice for all areas of the event, really. I will supply the long lead for the exercises that require one. Yes, a 4-foot leash is fine is you use that. It just has to be a plain leash.
  • Your dog’s brush or comb.
  • If your dog has an AKC registration or PAL (formerly ILP) number, you can bring that to add to the signup form. You don’t have to have it to take the test, though.

The test itself consists of ten exercises. You can read about them here beforehand, if you need to decide whether your dog is ready.

Even if you don’t plan to take the test right away, stop by and say hello if you’re in the area. Dinah and I hope to be busy with testing and chatting up people curious about the Bearded Collie breed, but we love company. We have  lots of CGC schwag, too — brochures, detailed training guides, AKC pencils — and maybe even other goodies, too, if AKC delivers on its offer to send additional stuff to the host clubs.

Don’t live near southern Maine? That’s okay. There are RDO events going on everywhere, including multiples in various parts of the State of Maine. Just check the calendar and come on by!

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