Influence Positively Stories: Emotional support & psychiatric service dogs


(CNN) -- His name is Valor. He's half Labrador retriever, half Great Dane, and goes everywhere with Sgt. Charles Hernandez. But Valor is more than a pet -- Hernandez considers the dog a personal physician.

When Hernandez was having seizures, Valor would nibble on the side of Hernandez's leg before the veteran realized anything was wrong. And the dog pulls him away from conflicts and jumps on him during anxiety attacks to calm him down. In combination with medications, Hernandez says the dog has helped his symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I'm alive again," says Hernandez, 49, of the Bronx, New York, now retired from the U.S. National Guard. "What keeps me going is my dog."

Read the full story

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!

Flying Colors: From California Stray to Search Dog Trainee

Cleo's First Few MonthsYou may not know this but my dog Cleo was surrendered to a shelter in Northern California. We never would have met if the shelter hadn't contacted the San Francisco SPCA, and told them how great she was.

We never could have had these past seven years together, showing off her talent and cuteness on this website, her if she hadn't passed with flying colors all of the tests the SF-SPCA gave her.

They were her advocate, and gave her a chance at performing the role she was made for -- that of Grouchy Puppy muse.

Meet Lilah, another former shelter dog

In January 2011, the National Search Dog Foundation (SDF) received a call from volunteer Andrea Bergquist (whose husband Chris is a handler with Sacramento Task Force 7), letting them know that she had discovered an excellent Search Dog candidate at the Sacramento SPCA.

SDF - image from
Lilah and Marshia Hall

Lilah, a one year-old Black Lab, had been picked up as a stray by the shelter. Suffering from kennel cough and described as “friendly but skinny,” She was evaluated by Andrea for search and rescue work. Lilah passed with flying colors and was transported down south to begin her training.

Continue reading "Flying Colors: From California Stray to Search Dog Trainee" »

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!

Prevention: What people can do to prevent dog bites

Dog Bite Prevention Week is May 20-26, 2012. Understanding the basics about dog behavior is important for preventing dog bites. Read this informative piece from Kelly Gorman Dunbar about hugging a dog, or rather why you respect your dog's doggie-ness. Before having a dog, consider one who is the right mix for your lifestyle. A dog's age, breed(s), coat, health, and energy level will all impact your life together.


Continue reading "Prevention: What people can do to prevent dog bites" »

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!

Therapy dog Coco lands new job at Hospice

Coco or "Coco Bean" went from a horrible start in life, to being discovered in a shelter by dog trainer Jo Brosius, who saw Coco's "loving heart". With training, Coco is now a helping families with their grief as a hospice care worker. Dogs never cease to amaze me with their ability to love.

Coco-Chocolate-Labrador-Dog-Hospice Plus Compassionate Care Center in Richmond


A ‘rags to riches’ story: Therapy dog Coco lands new job at Hospice

She gets lavished with affection all day, every day. She gets professional beauty care every other week. She has multiple beds in which she may rest from a long night of work.

Some call her “Coco Chanel” but some call her “Coco Bean.”

Whatever they call her, everyone at the Hospice Plus Compassionate Care Center in Richmond agrees it wouldn’t be the same place without her, said Brenna Wallhausser, Hospice community outreach coordinator.

The three-year old chocolate lab is the new therapy dog at the center. She replaced the now retired Annie, a golden retriever that had worked at the center since it opened in April 2008.

Coco’s typical work day includes greeting guests at the door, a job she can do from her usual position under the front desk at the feet of Kathy Bryant, patient care secretary.

“She’s got a pretty posh pad,” Bryant said of Coco’s nook, furnished with a sleeping pillow, stuffed animals and her favorite toy duck.

But Coco’s life was not always so “posh.”

The lab was found at a rescue shelter by dog trainer Jo Brosius of Berea. Authorities at the shelter said they had found Coco living in horrendous conditions.

Read the full story

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!

First Diabetic Alert Dog in Scotland

A severely diabetic mother of three can rest easy today, knowing Hamish her cocker spaniel is there.

Hamish is the first trained diabetic alert dog in Scotland. He can smell small changes in Carol Miller's blood sugars. Since Carol could die in her sleep or fall into a diabetic coma at any time, Hamish the dog, is trained to also find her medical bag.

After reading about diabetic alert dogs online, Carol found Linda McHendry, a local dog trainer, in Scotland willing to help. 

Carol said "I can't thank Linda enough, she has done it all free of charge. She has never done anything like this before and couldn't guarantee any results but she has done a brilliant job."



Learn more about diabetic alert dogs in the United States visit Guardian Angel Service Dogs

Read my Influence Positive Interview with Dee Bogetti, an amazing dog trainer specializing in diabetic alert dogs.

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!

Dog Saves Owner's Life With Heroic Phone-Grabbing Trick

This story should make every dog trainer, and service dog proud. And I couldn't agree more with this headline, "Genius Dog Saves Owner's Life With Heroic Phone-Grabbing Trick" that Anna North wrote.

What I love about this photo, Danny seems to be saying,"What trick? That was all skill baby." I say, Danny, you're the man and one amazing dog! Nice job buddy.


Bethe Bennett fell on her tile floor Friday and broke her femur. She lay on the ground in excruciating pain, aware that no visitors were coming until Tuesday.

“I was scared. I really thought I was going to die,” Bennett told “I knew I was going into shock because I’m a nurse.”

But Danny, a trained service dog who used to care for Bennett’s now-deceased mother, lent a helping paw that helped save his devoted owner’s life.

“I started asking Danny to get me the phone,” Bennett said. “He ran back and forth a couple of times barking and finally jumped up and knocked the phone over and pushed it with his nose toward me.”

But then Bennett realized the paramedics may not have been able to get into her locked house.

“Paper!” she asked Danny. He brought over five sheets, one of which had the phone numbers of Bennett’s neighbors.

Bennett called her neighbors, who unlocked her home with a hidden spare key just as paramedics arrived.

Read the full story and see the video at


Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post! | 10 ways a puppy prepares you for parenthood is an online parenting resource. They sent us this list of ten ways that a puppy might be the best idea for those thinking about becoming a parent. Pet care and vet bills will be for the life of your dog. Being prepared for medical costs, number five on the list, rings true for me. Having a budget for vet bills, and exploring pet insurance, are important considerations before having a dog. How do you think a dog, as a puppy or a senior, prepares you for being a parent?



5 of 10: There is no such thing as a free puppy.

Vaccinations and spaying/neutering add up to a number of pricey vet bills in the first few months of companionship. Spoiler alert: Puppies don't get cheaper as they grow up, and neither do kids.

Read the full article

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!

Celebrating lifetime of service: Guide and therapy dogs honor their own


This has to be the sweetest tale of finding the perfect role for a dog to have in their life. We wish Tag-a-long the happiest 12th birthday.

Click on the link above, or here for the whole story of this retired service dog.

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!

Minnesota Dog Sledding History | Brainerd Public Library January 20


Charlotte Wolf, musher and veterinary technician, will be speaking about the history of Minnesota dog sledding and demonstrate how the sled dogs are harnessed during a presentation at 10 a.m. Jan. 20 at the Brainerd Public Library.

Wolf’s presentation is the first of several events scheduled at the library as part of the 2012 Kitchigami Regional Library’s Legacy programming.

Wolf is a big supporter of the few dog sled races that run around the country, like the Iditarod in Alaska and the John Beargrease race along the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. Her dreams have been realized and she is as passionate as ever about her dogs, mushing and caring for other sled dogs wherever she goes.

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!

6 Years Later | Rescued Puppy is Therapy Dog Calendar Pin-up


Had it not been for neighbors, who spotted the severely injured dog lying helplessly in the nearby grass, and Duane Hodges of St. Anthony, who happened by as security officials were deciding what to do with him, Dobie’s story might have been different.

As it is, Dobie, the rescue dog, is now Dobie the certified therapy dog. He’s been faithfully performing his duties since the age of two.

“If we’re going someplace special, he starts singing in the back seat of the car,” said his owner and handler Richard Bartel, also of St. Anthony and a friend of Hodges. “It sounds like sort of a gurgling Tarzan yell. He’s so excited to see his buddies.”

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!

Dogs Listen in Suffolk Humane Society’s Books and Reading for Kids


As soon as media specialist Kim Richardson gave the OK, the third-grader hopped from his seat to find a book that he thought Pete, a Labrador retriever, would enjoy.

Aiden picked a book about Siberian huskies to share, hurried back to Pete’s side and plopped down next to the dog. In a clear, loud voice, Aiden started reading, while Pete lay down to listen to every word. The student went to turn the first page but stopped suddenly.

“Oops, I forgot to show you the picture,” Aiden said.

He turned the book to Pete to reveal a photo of another dog staring back at him. Sure, the book wasn’t about his breed, but Pete didn’t mind.

He just enjoys listening, and that’s what makes him such a perfect fit for Suffolk Humane Society’s Books and Reading for Kids in Suffolk, or BARKS, program.

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!

Kids help socialize guide dogs in training


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - It was puppy love at two Virginia Beach Schools Tuesday.

Two adorable guide dogs, named Joanie and Julie, spent the day with students. Julie is Brian McCann's guide dog. "I love her to pieces. She's everything to me. I would do anything in the world for her," McCann said.

They share a bond much, more powerful then even most pet owners

McCann added, "People say when she looks at me there's hearts floating above her head." He relies on her to be his eyes and while he couldn't see the impact Julie on the students they visited, he didn't need to.

"I think it's really important to teach them while they are young the importance of the service dogs, McCann said.

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!

Dogs Follow Humans' Gazes Just as Infants Do


"Gaze-following" is what it is called. Our dog Cleo does it, and has done it since we adopted her years ago.

If they can track with their nose, why can't they track with their eyes? We always thought this habit only confirmed that dogs are smart. Like poker players, they know to follow our visual cues. And we humans "tell" them or transmit our intentions. 

We can only hope to figure out what their tail is transmitting. I believe they have the upper hand, or paw, in this relationship, don't you?

Does your dog follow your gaze? Have you noticed them tracking your movements? We'd love to know your thoughts and comments.

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!

Great Dane brings smiles to hospital patients


Hospital staff and patients are glad the Diems are back with a Great Dane.

“After the loss of Morgan, everyone at BRHC (Blue Ridge HealthCare) was devastated,” said Wanda Saunders.

Saunders was the executive assistant to the president and CEO of Blue Ridge but this week started her new job as system patient advocate.

She said, “Trained therapy dogs such as Siobhan work wonders for a patient’s morale, and how can you rub a dog’s head and not smile? We love and value our beautiful therapy dog.”

Phyllis Deal works at Grace Hospital and her husband, Johnny Deal, is a patient at the Infusion Center at Valdese Hospital.

“I have seen both sides of it,” Phyllis Deal said about therapy dogs. “They can help the employees and the patients. And kids go crazy over them.”

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!