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

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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.

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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!

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Rylee (Adopted!)

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Hey ya’ll doin’?  My name is Rylee and Ah’m ah Lab/Hound mix from Loo-sianah who came here with Diesel.  Ah’m a lil over a year old, and Ah’m ah real, real sweet girl!  Diesel already told ya’ll ’bout where we came from, so Ah just wanted ta innerduce mahself and tell ya’ll a lil bit ’bout me, who Ah is and the kinda forever home Ah’d really like ta get.  Ah love Diesel, but we don’t gots ta be adopted together, but Ah’d LOVE ah home with anoder dog (me and Diesel’d love ta go together, but we don’t gotta)! Ah’ve got lots and lots of energy and love ta wrestle and run ’round with Diesel in the yard. Ah love goin’ on the Pack Walks, too, ‘cuz they’s fun and Ah like bein’ ’round dogs and all the humans!  Ah’ve been ta a couple a satellite adop-shun events, too, and am hopin’ Ah’m fixin’ ta go on Saturday ta Brookside Barkery and Bath for the event then!  Adop-shun events are soooooo much fun cuz when us dogs getta go, we get lots and lots of deee-lih-shous treats and pets and attention!  Check out hsgkc.org for more info ’bout the event.

So, here’s the stuff ya’ll should know ’bout me.  K, Ah already told ya’ll Ah gots lots ah energy, and that Ah’d really love ta live with anoder dog, and cuz Ah’m energetic and spunky Ah prolly shouldn’t live with lil ones.  Ah like bigger kids and grown-up humans lots, but sometimes Ah can be ah lil shy when Ah meet humans Ah don’t know, but if ya give me ah treat, Ah start ta warm up pretty fast.  Ah’m mostly house-trained, but it’d take me a lil time ta adjust ta my new family’s routine and home, but Ah’s ah smart girl, so Ah’d learn fast!  Ah gots one flaw tho… Ah can’t live with cats… Ah wanna chase ’em too much, and Diesel tol’ me humans don’t like that too much.  Ah’m sure cuz Ah’m so sweet and friendly that humans could look past that one lil flaw Ah got!  One last thang, when me and Diesel came here from Loo-sianah, Ah was very underweight, and our humans are doin’ the best they can ta put some weight on me, but that takes time.  Ah think when Ah go ta my forever home, Ah’ll put on weight fast… cuz Ah just know that my future humans’ll spoil me rotten!

That’s all Ah gots ta tell ya’ll for now!  Don’t forget if’n ya wanna learn more ’bout me ta check me out on my Petfinder page!  Buh-bye!

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Ladybug (Adopted!)

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Hi humans, or people, whatever it is ya’ll wanna be called!  My name is Ladybug, and I’m a 2 year old Corgi/Terrier mix.  I was found as a stray by a Kansas City, KS, Animal Control Officer, very, very prego, and got to come here.  I went to a foster home to have my pups (they went to a real great rescue group, and are doin’ great, btw).  I loved livin’ with my foster mom… she’s awesome!!!  I had to come back here, though, ’cause our humans were hopin’ I’d get adopted at the Plaza Art Fair, but… I’m still here, but that’s cool, ’cause I’m doin’ great here!  I getta be in play groups, and have had a couple different roommates, first Annie, and now Mischa, a pup who loves to wrestle and play, too!!  I hope “my” humans find me soon so I can go to a home again, but til then, I’m cool waitin’ on the right family for me.

I wanna tell ya ’bout all the good things my foster mom had to say ’bout me, not ’cause I’m braggin’ or nothin, but ’cause I’ve gotta promote myself to find a forever home!  I’m completely house-trained (I just need to learn the routine of my new family), and I’m crate-trained, too… not all the other dogs can say that, so ha!  I’ve got lots of energy and love to play with toys, like squeaky toys (I completely rip them to shreds, pull out all the stuff inside, then throw the outside part of the toy up in the air and chase it), and I love to play tug, too!  My foster mom thought I’d be a good frisbee dog… I’m not totally sure what a frisbee is, but I think it sounds like fun!  I’m really good with small humans, and love to snuggle and cuddle, too!  I love gettin’ lots of pets and attention, and I’ve even gone to a couple obedience classes… so I’m pretty smart, too!  I’d really love to go to a home with another dog so I have a friend to play with, and I’m good with pretty much every dog I’ve met so far… the only “flaw” I have is I like to chase cats… see I know humans got all kindsa rules, but I seriously dunno what the big deal is with me wantin’ to chase cats… but I’ve heard some humans don’t like that, so I figured I’d better tell ya ’bout that lil tiny thing I like to do that’s maybe considered naughty.

It’s been crazy ’round here… tomorrow is the Pet Reunion & Open House (I’ve heard our humans talkin’ ’bout this, and know they’re real excited), so maybe since I’m great with other dogs, I’ll getta come out and meet some new doggies and humans, and someone’ll decide they wanna adopt me!!!  Ya never know what could happen!  So come see me tomorrow!  I gotta run… time to go play with Mischa!  Kisses!

click here to find out more ’bout me >

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Smiley, the Narrator

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Hello humans.  I know all of us dogs are happy the weather is finally nice and starting to warm up.  I love naps in the sun.  There have been a lot of adoptions this month (Rosedale, Zelda, Freckles, and some puppies to name a few), and some of our dogs, like Ruby and Taz, went to rescue groups this month.  For those of you who are not in the shelter/rescue field, I thought I should tell you about rescue groups, and transferring dogs to rescues, sometimes out of state.

Our humans do the best they can to help the dogs of Wyandotte County, but sometimes we have more dogs who need to come in than we have room for, so we ask for help from other groups.  Ruby came to us very pregnant, and she is an American Staffordshire Terrier (like Pit Bulls, and harder to adopt).  Our facility is wonderful, but we are not adequately set up to accommodate a mama dog and her 9 puppies. So our humans reached out to other humans and through an amazing dog rescue network, a group called ColoRADogs, which is a Pit Bull Rescue, said they would take Ruby (who had not yet had her babies).  Transport (really awesome humans who drive dogs all over the country) was quickly arranged, which is good because she had her babies Monday.  Ruby left this morning, with a very nice human who drove 8 hours to get here, and she is probably settling in to her new foster home as we speak.  There are some really fantastic humans all over the place who have a passion for rescuing and finding forever homes for dogs!

Ruby and puppies on the road to Colorado

Ruby and puppies on the road to Colorado

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There have been quite a few adoptions this month, which made me think I have yet to tell you about the forever home I would like.  I would prefer to be the only pet.  I have lived here for a few years, and although I enjoy watching the antics of the other dogs, I would love to be the center of attention.  I do not play with other dogs, and cats… well… they are cats and are not of much interest to me.  I like short walks (I have some arthritis), and playing fetch.  I have been told I am the easiest dog to walk on a leash because I do not pull the human who is walking me.  I also like to snuggle and take naps, and just hang out with humans.  I would be fine, I think, with teenagers, but not really young humans because of the arthritis, and I am not quite active enough to keep up with them.  I would like a fenced in yard because I do enjoy playing fetch.  I am great with humans and have a big heart, and really, really would love to have a nice bed to curl up on with humans who will spoil me rotten.

It has been a long, pleasant day, and I am ready for bed now, but I am sure I will have more to tell you soon.  Goodnight.