It is with great pride and pleasure that we introduce to you the Goldens-n-Doodles.com Service Dogs. Click below to view our many service dog stories.
It is with great pride and pleasure that we introduce to you the Goldens-n-Doodles.com Service Dogs. Click below to view our many service dog stories.
[su_highlight]OBI was donated as service dog to the Mugler/Kilpatrick family in Iowa. His new mistress and best friend, Harli, is a true angel as she has “ANGELMAN SYNDROME”. Learn more at www.angelman.org[/su_highlight]
by: Tami Mugler, Harli’s mom – 2/26/08
Harli’s Blue Obsidian aka Obi, is not just a pet to Harli. He is her life companion. He has, in his short one year, learned to pick up her remote control, water bottle and blanket when she drops them. Although not consistent yet with putting them in her lap, he is getting better all the time!
The most important thing he has done for her however, is ALERT US BEFORE a seizure begins! Harli had been seizure free for over 12 years and we did not forsee ever needing Obi for this task. However, in October of 2007 Harli went into ‘status’ (which is one seizure after another) lasting several hours. Prior to the seizures beginning Obi had tried to alert us.
He put himself between Harli’s home health aide and refused to leave Harli’s side! He even followed them into the shower where he KNOWS he is NOT allowed! I had to physically remove him from the area to which he planted
himself outside the bathroom door! I had no idea what he was trying to tell me….20 minutes later while getting Harli dressed and still trying to keep Obi
out of the way Harli began seizing! We layed Harli on her bed and awaited the ambulance. Obi positioned himself over her legs on the bed and had to be physically removed when the EMT’s arrived.
Harli has had 2 more episodes of seizures since that time and Obi has ALERTED me each of those days as well. WE now pay very close attention to Obi’s behaviors and no longer excuse it to him being a puppy. Seizure Alert dogs are very special indeed. I am not sure you can actually ‘teach’ this task. Either the dog has it or they don’t, and I truly believe that it is an example of the depth Harli and Obi bonded that he is so in tuned to her and how she is feeling.
If he never learns to pick up another single thing for her, it won’t matter. He has truly earned his place as her service dog and a HERO in this family! 🙂 He will continue to learn tasks that we deem appropriate and useful to Harli, we are hoping to teach him more ‘pick up’ type tasks, eventually adding him bringing us items we need to administer care for her, such as her AFO’s (her leg braces), a pull-up for changing, and eventually adding pulling her wheelchair up the drive way. (we do live in iowa and the ice can make getting from the bus to the house difficult).
Harli and Obi have participated in 2 awareness events. One they were featured in a local newspaper and then were guest speakers at a Sheltered Workshop for challenged people. We discussed his work, how not to approach a service dog in public as they are working and then allowed a small group to play and interact with him. It was a great socialization time for him as well.
In the future plans after Harli graduates her and Obi will begin offering speaking engagements to local schools educating children on working dogs, the rules, tasks and services they provide as well as becoming an active addition to a local childrens residential facility as a ‘therapy’ partner to other children with special needs. These are things we feel will be a great way for Harli to give back for being so blessed to be given Obi.
None of these things will be paid engagements but done voluntarily. Let’s not forget that Obi has also been a great conversation starter and ice breaker for Harli’s extremely shy sister Destini. She takes him on walks, roller blading and to the tennis courts for a rugged game of fetch…people are always
commenting on his beauty and asking her tons of questions which encourage her to socialize a bit more!
by: Harli, Tami and Destini Mugler and Lorre Leon Mendelson
LORRE: She walked into my life and into my heart in the same moment. She was so incredibly little, with the tiniest buds for ears and eyes that had not opened yet.
I waited quietly on the edge of the whelping box Teri had built in her family room, home to a beautiful white cockatoo and visited frequently by the mewing house kitties. Mercedes, beautiful golden doggie mom, watched, then determining safety, nosed my hand for ear scratches between cleaning and nursing pups. There were so many! I opened my heart and waited to see what would happen. The puppies seemed to practice their walking skills, tripping the light fantastic around the small wooden box, smelling their way, falling over each other, touching, licking, listening: it left me breathless as only new birth can. It was the most beautiful ballet I had ever seen.
She walked toward me: dark blonde brownish-red hair, still getting used to her “land legs”, a single curl across the bridge of her nose. She walked all the way across the box to me. I sat in awe, then gently lifted her and we became known to each other. I inhaled her puppy smell and sweet puppy breath while she leaned against me, learning my heartbeat, my scent, my touch. It was
supper time and what may have appeared an awkward stumble to others was an un-choreographed dance of movement, testing the ground, testing her strength as she found Mercedes’ nipple to suck hungrily along with her other 8 sibs. Eating their fill or until they were nudged/pushed away by another hungry pup, they fell asleep in pods that reminded me of seals at Ano Nuevo State Park, laying close together by the shore, just north of Santa Cruz.
I named her Sunshine and as we grew together and learned from each other, she traveled with me for my job, providing assistance to me with my anxiety. I was unprepared for the community response and soon realized, I must be proactive. I put the word out to the community: there is a chance you have seen me since I travel a great deal. You may have met me in the grocery, walking in the mall, dining in a local restaurant, checking in to the same hotel in which you stay,walking in the park, trying to access my laptop in the library, arguing for or against a proposed bill in a legislative committee, or conducting business at the bank. You would recognize me because when I travel, I always travel with Sunshine and she is unforgettable. She weighs about 50 pounds, is 4 years old and as sweet as can be. A musician friend of mine once told me she has hair most women would kill for- curly with red highlights, blond and white hair. She IS the Sunshine in my life.
Sunshine is my service dog. You cannot tell by looking at me that I have a disability. Many people with disabilities use animals to provide assistance and help us enjoy a higher quality of life. Some people may use monkeys as service (or working) animals since monkeys have an opposable thumb and can help us dress and grip certain items. Some people use horses (we call them Minny Whinnys) and one fellow in NY uses a parrot that helps him have a natural life outside his apartment who has a psychiatric diagnosis.
Many of us use dogs as an accommodation, based on our disability and need. People who use working animals may include people with autism, epilepsy (and other seizure conditions) multiple chemical sensitivity disorders, anxiety/panic disorders, deaf people or people who are hard of hearing, people who are blind or visually impaired, and people who use wheelchairs to name a few. What tasks the animals perform may include getting medicine, alerting us to an alarm or telephone, helping us gets to a safe place, getting
us assistance, guiding us to transportation or shopping, alerting us to dangerous chemicals, etc.
State laws may be more restrictive regarding working animals, but the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is federal law and supersedes state law. Under the ADA we are not required to carry papers indicating this is a service animal. I try to keep a bandana on Sunshine with a badge glued on that reads “Service Dog” to make our path easier but for many people working animals are still a new concept. For every instance where I have been yelled at, escorted out of buildings, challenged to “prove” she is a service animal, and treated with disrespect, I have a dozen more instances of restaurant owners, business managers, store keepers, sales associates, and librarians who greet me asking appropriately “is this a service animal?”, those who come toward me with a question on their face and when I let them know she is a service animal, that is all that is needed. There are many people asking me what she
does for me and in many cases how they can get a service animal.
Service animals are working animals, not pets. We are not trying to sneak our dogs in to a building so people and their service animals should be treated respectfully.
Service animals enable us to be more independent, safe, healthy and aware of our surroundings. Most of us are responsible and obtain working animals through a school or have trained them ourselves to perform certain tasks. When I meet someone who is afraid of dogs I always offer to move to a different area if they would be more comfortable. As with everything else, I have found communication is the key.
Teri, Sunshine’s breeder, was amazed to learn how much she does for me and, in a wonderfully generous act, offered to donate a puppy as a service animal to a person with a disability. But, there was more. She wanted me to be the one to select who would be the recipient of the puppy. I was so honored. I looked for just the right forever home for this new service-puppy to-be and soon learned of a wonderful surprise waiting just around the corner. The non-profit I worked for was holding a conference and I learned a
family would be attending from Iowa about whom I heard wonderful things. Tami and her two lovely daughters, Harli and her younger sister, Destini were attending. Harli has
Angelman Syndrome. Once I asked what her definition of it was and she described it this way, “brain not broken, just a few curves in the road”.
We really clicked at the conference and they loved Sunshine. Tami told me how wonderful a service dog would be for Harli when I mentioned the available puppy. There was no question in our minds. After putting her in touch with Teri, there was one more traveler in the van, a beautiful, black, curly ball of fur who was soon named Obsidian. But that story belongs to Tami, Destini and Harli!
TAMI: There we were walking along the carpeted walk-way heading for our first information session at the annual Microboards Conference in Nashville, TN, when we happened upon her. Sitting there silently but so obviously alert, her head resting on her paw as her eyes darted about keeping a vigilant watch over her charge. A woman greeting people, handing out programs and giving
directions was standing very close by; close enough in fact that every few seconds she would reach down and gently touch the mound of blonde curls at her feet. With her long skirt, loose flowing blouse and long wavy hair she resembled a flower-child perhaps lost in a time warp. She projected warmth and love with every word, ever gesture.
My daughters, Harli and Destini, were immediately distracted by the beautiful golden girl that lay at the woman’s feet. Admiring the dog I spoke to my kids as the woman handed me our name badges, “Wow girls, isn’t she beautiful?” A bubbly voice responded “Why thank you, but isn’t my dog pretty too?” We all laughed at her humor and agreed the dog was indeed pretty, too. I then asked what her companion’s name was and her breed. “Oh this is Sunshine. She is a GoldenDoodle and she is my service animal”. I had never heard of a Golden Doodle, but definitely agreed that Sunshine was the perfect name for this beauty.
We visited a bit about service animals, educating my girls on the various tasks they could perform. My daughter Destini had wanted a dog for many years, but with Harli’s disabilities we just couldn’t get any lost soul looking for a home. I grew up with many animals and very much wanted my children to experience the unconditional love of a dog, but it just wasn’t in the stars, well, not yet anyway.
The woman introduced herself as Lorre and we continued our conversation about her dog, disabilities and life in general over the next few days. Harli continued to get very excited each time she saw Sunshine. Destini, who is painfully shy the majority of the time, finally mustered up the courage to ask if she could pet Lorre’s companion during a break from workshops. Destini knew that working dogs shouldn’t be pet or played with but she was going crazy to touch that dog’s long curls. Lorre thanked Destini for
asking first and since we were on break she let Destini reach out to Sunshine who glanced up at her charge for permission. Lorre assured Sunshine it was okay and she and Destini became fast friends.
Being more comfortable now Destini asked what kind of things Sunshine did for her. Lorre was fabulous and explained that she is an individual with an ‘invisible’disability and that she has extreme anxiety in crowded places, large groups and sometimes, going to the grocery store can make her heart race. She continued in great detail that Sunshine was very sensitive to her moods and her needs; that when she begins to feel the fear rising, Sunshine moves very close to Lorre, gently nudging her hand to remind Lorre to stay in
Destini asked, “Does it help to pet her when you get stressed?” who had noticed Lorre touching Sunshine’s head repeatedly while working. “Yes it does. It helps me a lot in remaining calm. Now I can enjoy many things in life I was missing out on. I can go out and about much more now. Sunshine has opened the door for me; I no longer stay home due to fear.” “I wish I could have a dog. Mom, you should get a dog for sissy and then we could share it.”
I responded with a smile “Oh that would be perfect wouldn’t it, but service dogs are very expensive.” Thus began the conversation
that would change all of our lives forever. Lorre talked about Sunshine’s breeder, Teri Rowland Fann, who was so impressed with the difference Sunshine was making in Lorre’s life that Teri wanted to donate a pup to someone in need to be used as their service dog. Lorre told us excitedly that Teri had given her the honor of selecting the recipient. Lorre had been watching Harli and Destini all weekend and fell in love with the joyous smile that emitted from Harli every time she saw
Sunshine walk by. Her heart tugged knowing how desperately Destini wanted a dog, and mostly she knew the importance of getting the ‘right’ dog for Harli.
Lorre took me aside and asked if I would be interested in a service puppy as she very much wanted to give this gift to Harli. We emailed the breeder together and explained our unique situation, Harli’s disability and her sister’s desire to ‘help’ with the pup.
The very next day we were on our way to Teri’s and her gorgeous puppies. From our conversation Teri felt that Destini should choose the pup. Upon our arrival it was immediately clear to Teri just how painfully shy Destini is and it became even more important that she be part of the process. Well it wasn’t easy or quick, but
Teri never rushed her: she let Destini play with the pups as long as she wanted and talked with us about vet care, potty training, grooming: mostly about how much love would be required. Destini grinned ear to ear at those words, she knew she could do that!
After a thoughtful 2 hours Destini wanted to show 2 of the pups to her sister who was waiting outside with our family friend. Harli was excited to see the puppies and blew kisses at them over and over. Destini knew which was the right pup for Harli and we took him home with us.
On our long drive back to Iowa, the little pup cried relentlessly for his mommy and siblings. Harli surprised us all when she reached out to him offering her ‘blankie’ as comfort. The pup climbed up on the seat and curled up tightly next to Harli and never made another sound, that is, unless we took him away from Harli! Their connection was so immediate and amazing! Those two bonded like long lost loves, confirming Destini had indeed made the right choice.
A few days later Destini chose a name for our pup, Obsidian. She explained that in folk lore the Obsidian stone is also known as the ‘apache tear’ believed to protect us from negativity and harm. Obi, as we now call him, has woven himself into the very fabric of our lives and we cannot imagine a day without him. He not only warns us of oncoming seizures and changes in Harli’s blood sugar, he picks up items that she drops from time to time. But most importantly, Obi has brought us all closer on our journey. After a long day at a crowded holiday festival in a nearby town Destini proclaimed “You know, mom, I think Obi helps me too. People notice me when I am with him and when they ask me questions about him, it makes me talk to more people.” Indeed it does! So while Sunshine and Obi live in very different worlds they are living very similar lives and bringing independence to those who need it most.
February 2014 Follow up letter from Tami: Obi has changed all of our lives in so many ways! Destini does have such great issue with her shyness and as she has gotten older now often can suffer from extreme anxiety in large groups or public situations. She really wished she had Obi at college with her! ha! She still takes him out roller blading with her or bike riding in the summer months. Some days when we are at a mall she will insist we should have left him home as he will draw so much attention, (which of course she hates) but the day always ends with her snuggled up in the back seat with him telling him how popular an amazing he is. LOL!
She spends time in her room an when she lets him in, he knows how lucky he is and snuggles up with her on her bed, or lets her paint his toe nails lol* he doesn’t mind a bit.
While Obi is amazing at detecting Harli’s seizures before they happen, he is just as equally amazing at knowing when Destini needs some
extra attention too. When her anxiety is high he is right there at her feet, putting his paw in her lap an offering comfort.
Harli has learned to actually throw a ball, something we spent many years trying to teach her, she learned within a year after getting Obi…. she LOVES to throw his ball for him, althoug it doesn’t get far, he will still fetch it and bring it back to her.
She takes great pride in feeding him every single day and has learned to dump out a bowl by doing this – very hard fine motor skill btw!
Every day, every year, he teaches us all something. Not a moment goes by that Obsidian doesn’t have a great impact on each of us. Every single day we are grateful for having Lorre and you in our lives….
Thought you might enjoy some updated pictures of Bob. He continues to grow into such a gentle and personable dog. He weighs in now at 65 pounds but thinks he is a 5 pound lap dog!
Emma is just as thrilled with him being around as she was the day he came to live with us. She wants him to be with her all the time and asks constantly if Bob will be going with us….to the store, in the car, on a walk, etc.
Bob also continues to go to work with me about 2-3 times a week. He brings such joy to the patients and seems to know when someone is in need of extra love. Being on a psychiatric ward, there is minimal positive physical contact.
Bob seems to fill this void for many of the patients with his slobbery kisses and how he such settles into their laps/arms, etc.
Thank you again for bringing him into our lives.
Emma – 5 years
Wrigley and Kristin Barbour have visited
several schools now as a therapy dog/handler team.
They’ve been invited to visit an outpatient cancer unit.
Wrigley is bringing a lot of joy to people and is a great ambassador for this
breed wherever we go!
From: Kristin Barbour
Sent: November 23, 2010
Subject: FW: Kristin and Wrigley at
I hope you and the family are well. Wrigley and I have visited several
schools now as a therapy dog/handler team. Here are some photos from an urban school where we visited pre-schoolers. They asked if Wrigley was a lion!
They were fascinated by him and Wrigley spent a good 45 minutes with them in their classroom. It was a lot of fun. We’ve been invited to go and visit at a
an outpatient cancer unit which we will probably do next month. Wrigley is bringing a lot of joy to people and is a great ambassador for this breed
wherever we go!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving,
Kristin, Richard and Wrigley