Joker’s Journey — From Shelter Dog to Alert Service Dog in Training


Hello humans!  I’m Joker (and more recently known as River), and I’m a 16 month old Lab/Border Collie mix.  I have a cool story to tell you about me and my journey from being at HSGKC to being an Alert Service Dog in Training.  My story starts back in July, when I was surrendered by my owner because of a real bad wound I had on my back (I had either a wound or a chemical burn that got infected), and they couldn’t afford to take care of me, so I came to HSGKC.

joker_before2joker_toyAfter my wound healed a bit, our humans started to let volunteers take me out in the yard to play and go on walks.  Well, one day, Pete was watching me play fetch with a volunteer (I LOVE playing fetch!), and when Pete  noticed how good I was at bringing the toy back to the volunteer over and over again, he saw something special in me.  He contacted his friend, Eliodora, who is a Canine Working Dog Recruiter (and she does a LOT of other really cool stuff, too) to come out to HSGKC and see me in action.  Eliodora also saw something special in me, and potential for me to go on to do something really cool because of my toy drive.  So, she showed Pete, Christine and Amber how to play with me to build up my stamina and keep me engaged with toys.

Pete, Christine and Amber worked with me for about a month, taking time everyday to play fetch with me!  I loved it!!  (On a funny note — one of the things they had to do to keep my energy up and positive was to yell funny stuff when I’d bring the toy back to them… Christine was the silliest ’cause she’d yell stuff like “all right, all right, all right!!!!” which I guess is from some movie she likes… anyways, I thought she was pretty amusing).

Me and Pete before I left for Indiana.

Anyway, they worked with me for about 2 months, everyday, and all the hard work we did (well, it wasn’t really “work” for me, it was FUN!) paid off. Eliodora came out to see me in action again, and thought I’d be well suited as a Diabetic Alert Dog.  She contacted a friend and colleague with Alert Service Dogs in Indiana… and I was accepted into their training program!!!  I went to Eliodora’s house on Tuesday, and Wednesday she took me out to different places to expose me to new situations (and I was on TV, too!) to prepare me for my plane trip and training. I left yesterday, and got to go on an airplane with Eliodora to Indiana!  I’m going to start training real soon, and after I finish training, I’ll be matched with a person who’s diabetic, and live with them.


Me on the airplane with Eliodora. After we landed, she said I “ROCKED!”

I’ve heard our humans talking about different kinds of jobs dogs like me can do (I’m energetic, friendly with humans and other dogs, and I have a VERY high toy drive… meaning I LOVE my toys, like a LOT), from FEMA Search and Rescue, or Wildlife Search and Rescue to Diabetic Alert Dogs to Bomb/Drug Detection Dogs. We’re dogs who have “jobs” where we help humans. We’re the dogs who are in shelters, and will be adopted and sometimes returned because we’re too high energy, we bark a lot, and need a job to do.  Most dogs who do these types of jobs come from humans who breed “working” dogs, but what some humans don’t know is that some of us are in shelters, waiting for an opportunity like this, to go on and help humans. I was given an opportunity for a better life when I was taken in by HSGKC and received care to heal my wound, and now I can return the favor and help a human in need.   Us “shelter dogs” are just as awesome as dogs from breeders, and my journey is proof of that!

I’ll let you know how training goes for me!  I’m gonna work super hard to complete training so I can go on to be a Diabetic Alert Dog, companion, and best friend to someone who needs me as much as I need them.  Bye for now!


Sasha (Adopted!)


Hiya humans, my name is Sasha.  I’m about 2 years old, and I’m a Lab/maybe-some-Boxer mix.  I was found as a stray by KCK Animal Control back in March.  I was real sick with somethin’ called Parvovirus, and another tummy bug, and heartworm infection, AND I was real skinny… so, I was a mess.  I’m almost finished with my heartworm treatment, and I’ve gained almost 20 pounds since I first got here… so ya know our humans are takin’ real good care of me!  I’m happy, too, ’cause I got moved to the back room in the kennel area… see our humans gotta have a place to fix our food, do laundry, and give us baths, and when this building was designed they put a run in the back room for a special dog.  I know the doggy run back there is now called “Smiley’s Run” and it’s for special dogs like him and me who just need some extra TLC!  I LOVE bein’ in the back room!  I getta hang out with the humans who take care of us doggies and some of the humans who take care of the kitties, too!  I have my own doggy bed that I can lay on and I have more room to move around.  I love it when humans come back and visit me and I get so happy and excited to see them I use my paws a lot to get their attention, and to get them to play with me.  I play bow a lot… but they don’t seem to get that move… silly humans!  I getta just hang out in the back room… unless they have to bring another dog back to get a bath, then I have to go in my kennel ’cause I’m not a huge fan of other dogs, I prefer to have all the attention for myself.  I’ll tell ya ’bout that the next time I blog… for now I got somethin’ else to tell ya ’bout: Dog-N-Jog.

I’ve heard our humans talkin’ bout this big event thingy called Dog-N-Jog (I’m gonna call it DNJ for the rest of my blog… too much to type out, lol).  Anyways, DNJ is this Sunday, June 14 from 7-10:30 a.m. on the Country Club Plaza.  There’s a 1 and 2 mile run and a 1 mile walk, an agility course, and lots of other fun stuff.  If ya wanna learn more ’bout it and register online, go to  I’ve heard it’s fun for humans and doggies, and it raises money for our humans to keep takin’ care of dogs like me who are real sick, and need lots of medical care to get better!  I can’t go ’cause I’ve got ’bout 2 1/2 weeks left of “leash walk only” before I can run ’round.  That’s ’cause of the heartworm treatment… see I can’t have my heart goin’ too fast or it’d be real bad for me… so I’m gonna supervise the humans who are gonna bathe the dogs who are goin’ to DNJ to make sure they look their best!  Sometimes you humans need help from us dogs, too!  I keep myself real clean, my kennel is clean, and when the doggy yard is really muddy,  I’m always super careful to avoid the muddy spots when I go out for my morning walk!  I think I heard our humans sayin’ that maybe 7-8 dogs from here are gonna go to DNJ and represent all of us dogs here at HSGKC!  Whoever blogs tomorrow will fill ya in on who’s gonna go.  If you’re goin’ to DNJ and ya have a Black dog like me, be aware of signs of overheating… see ’cause of our coats bein’ Black, we get hot lots faster than other colors of dogs!  I know that may seem silly, but some humans don’t know that.

Well, that’s all I got for now… I’ll tell ya more ’bout me and the kinda forever home I’d like next time!  Bye!

Click here If ya wanna learn more ’bout me >


Bear the Braveheart (Adopted!)


Hi, my name is Bear.  I’m a Black Lab mix, and I’m about 13 months old. I guess the reason I have the nickname of “Braveheart” is ’cause I’ve been through a LOT already, and I’ve been brave about it all… and I’ve got lots of love to give.  I was picked up by Kansas City, KS Animal Control in April, and went right to Blue Pearl Specialty + Emergency Medicine for Pets ’cause I was really hurt.  I had surgery there to fix my pelvis (it was broken), and then came here.  I was real scared when I first came in… and on cage rest for almost 8 weeks.  I was nervous with our humans here, and it took me a while to trust the humans who were taking care of me.  I wasn’t mean or anything, I never tried to bite anyone, I was just real quiet and didn’t know how to act.

I moved into the main kennel a couple weeks ago, and that’s been interesting and fun to watch all the other dogs.  I’ve learned to like lots of humans like Pete, Alex, Lea Ann, Joyce, Christine, Nicole (they all work here and take care of me or spend time with me), but it does take me a while to show new people how affectionate I can be.  If I really know you, then I show my silly side by smiling at you, and I love to be petted, and brushed.  I went to a couple satellite adoption events, too, and was real well mannered with the new humans (big humans and little ones) and dogs I met.  I had fun and got lots of treats and attention. I’ve met a few dogs here, and so far Pete, Christine and Alex think I’d do well in a home with with either a mellow dog or puppy.  I’m still trying to figure out how to play with other dogs, but I think I’m doing okay… you know, all things considered.

I really want a forever home… I’ve heard from the other dogs that black dogs (and cats) are sometimes harder to find home for ’cause humans can be “superstitious” (I’m not sure what that means totally, but I guess it’s harder for us to find homes).  I love humans, even though it does take me a while to warm up to new humans.  I do like to doggy toys, and short walks right now (the vets said that I’m ready to be adopted now but I’m still a bit nervous and moving a little slower than most 13 month old dogs).  I’d be fine with young humans (maybe like 5 years or older), and another dog or two if they’re mellower.  I’d probably be fine with cats, too… they are very strange creatures.  My energy level will probably be medium, so I don’t need a really active family, but will want to go for walks and explore things.  I’m a pretty easy going guy in a lot of ways, so even if you’ve never had a dog before I’d be good for a first time pet owner.  I’m gonna go for now… I like watching the antics of the dogs now that I’m out in the main kennel.  Leo, Copper, Gandalf, Nemo and Elvis are all lots of fun to watch!  Elvis really makes our humans work to bring him in at the end of the day, which I wouldn’t do, but it is funny!


Click here to find out more about me >

PS  If you want to help save other dogs and cats who come to HSGKC with serious injuries like me, or who are sick, please make a donation to Gabriel’s Fund. Thanks!

This is me after I had my surgery. I needed help walking.

This is me after I had my surgery. I needed help walking for awhile.

And this is me at Dog-N-Jog on June 8, walking on my own and doing just fine!

And this is me at Dog-N-Jog on June 8, walking on my own and doing just fine!


Radical Robert (Adopted!)


Hi humans! Lots of stuff has been goin’ on ’round here, and it’s finally my turn to blog again! Yesterday was sooooo nice outside.  Alex took me for a long walk, she always walks me when she’s here ’cause I’m one of her favorites! I’m happy the weather is warmin’ up ’cause that means it’s almost time for kiddy pools! I love runnin’ and jumpin’ in the pools to cool off!! I can’t wait!!

‘Cause it’s my turn to write today, I wanna tell ya about the kinda forever home I’d like. Ok, so I probably sound like I’m really high energy, and I can be, but I also like to just chill, ‘specially after a long walk or run! I’d like a pretty active family who’d take me for walks or runs or hikes like everyday, or almost everyday… we all need a day off sometimes! I’m still bein’ good ’bout not jumpin’ fences as much, but a tall fence would be best for me, or no fence… but you’d have to always take me out on a leash which’d be ok, too!

I love humans, little humans too! I’m great with them ’cause I’m smart and know ya gotta take it easy on them! I’d do best if I were the only pet ’cause I was runnin’ ’round on my own, takin’ care of myself before somebody nice found me and brought me here, so I’ve never really learned how to play much with other dogs. I had a puppy roomie for a while named Rudy, and I liked him lots, but after he got adopted I haven’t met any other pup I’ve liked as much, but that’s ok ’cause I’d love bein’ the center of attention! I’m pretty smart, kinda stubborn at times but I do ok with some obedience stuff!  Anyways, that’s all I got for now… gotta go ’cause I’ve got a busy day ahead. It’s Saturday and lots of humans come in to spend time with us on Saturdays! Bye!!