Archive for the ‘AKC’ Category

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.


Celebrating Hero Dogs, Before It’s Too Late

Much was made in September about 9/11/2011, the tenth anniversary of the unspeakable 9/11 tragedy. In September there were ceremonies honoring both human and canine rescuers, helpers, and survivors — and those who didn’t survive.

Ten years is a long time — most of a lifetime — for a dog. Few of the dogs who were there in the aftermath of the attacks are still alive. Sometimes I think that dogs must find us confusing when we do things like honor them at public events, but since we’re humans, it matters to us that we do it — and while we can. It gives us comfort, and brings us together for at least a short while. It reaffirms the power of our love for animals, and how that love can bring great help and comfort in times of need.

Eli, Am/Can CH Celebre Elijah of Hillside

Eli, a Belgian Sheepdog (Groenendael), and his owner Sherry Hanley were there after the attacks, comforting survivors and first responders from a command center in Jersey City, NJ. He had only just received his therapy dog certification a short while before.

Ten years on, Eli is now 12. He has received numerous honors for his good works, including an AKC Lifetime Achievement award and a place in the Purina Hall of Fame. This year, he is being honored as a Therapy Dog Ambassador at the National Dog Show, sponsored by Purina© and the Kennel Club of Philadelphia. Eli competed at the very first National Dog Show in 2002.

The National Dog Show, presented by Purina, will be broadcast at starting at noontime on Thanksgiving Day (November 24) on NBC stations. There, you can see Eli being honored for his achievements. In the Belgian Sheepdog ring, two of Eli’s champion grand-puppies will be competing for Best of Breed.

If you want to go to the show, it actually takes place on Saturday and Sunday, November 19 and 20 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center.

More About Eli

Here is a copy of the press release that lists Eli’s public appearances in conjunction with the show:

PHILADELPHIA, PA (October 25, 2011) – Eli, one of the few living therapy dogs who comforted first responders and victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, has been named Therapy Dog Ambassador for The National Dog Show Presented by Purina® and the Kennel Club of Philadelphia for 2011.

A retired show dog and therapy dog who competed at the first National Dog Show in 2002, Eli travels around the country with owner/handler Sherry Hanley appearing at dog shows and fundraising events benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project and other causes.

On behalf of the National Dog Show, Eli will visit the New York City Ronald McDonald House on Nov. 10, spending time with children with cancer and their families. The National Dog Show’s 2009-10 Therapy Dog ambassador, Rufus, visited the Ronald McDonald House in 2009 as part of its therapy dog program, which includes a partnership with the Angel on a Leash Foundation, connecting therapy dogs, like Eli, with pediatric cancer patients.

Eli will also appear at the Kennel Club of Philadelphia (KCP) cluster, meeting the public on Saturday, November 19 from 2-3 p.m. in the Purina Pro Plan exposition area at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks/Valley Forge, just west of Philadelphia. Eli will also appear on Sunday, November 20 from 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. He will be part of NBC’s online/broadcast coverage of the show, which airs nationally on November 24, Thanksgiving Day, from noon-2 p.m. following the Macy’s Parade. A total audience of some 20 million tunes into the show each year.

“It’s a great honor for Eli to come back to Philadelphia as Therapy Dog Ambassador for the KCP and The National Dog Show,” said Hanley. “Therapy Dog work is important and Eli is active in generating awareness about its value. Also, he loves to meet people and he is a ham, so we are looking forward to being involved.”

“Eli’s therapy work will never be forgotten and there is a whole generation of therapy dogs who walk now in his footsteps,” offered National Dog Show NBC expert analyst David Frei, the author of “Angel On A Leash,” a new book about therapy dogs. “Eli and Sherry Hanley will get a huge ovation Saturday when they are introduced in the stadium at The National Dog Show.”

Hanley, a Lehigh County (PA) Deputy sheriff from Allentown (PA), took Eli to the September 11 command post on the banks of the Hudson River just months after he was certified to help comfort rescue workers and victims of the tragedy. Fourteen months later Eli was a celebrated competitor at The National Dog Show both in the Belgian Sheepdog show ring and as a 9/11 hero.

He went on to win scores of titles and honors as an obedience dog and in herding competitions along with his show dog accomplishments, which include twice being ranked in the top 20 in his breed nationally. He is a member of the Purina Hall of Fame for his 9/11 therapy work and last October he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Kennel Club.

Now 12 years old, Eli is also a noted sire, the father of multiple champion and grand champion show dogs, including two who will be competing in the Belgian Sheepdog breed at The National Dog Show this year.

Visit Eli’s fan page on Facebook.

More About the Show


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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