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The Many Adventures of Skyy the Border Collie

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…and God sent Skyy to our family to bring us great joy.  Our family, in turn, are sharing that joy.  Skyy, a 2-year-old border collie was destined to do great things. He has beautiful soft fur, bearing the traditional black and white markings of his breed and warm, soft, brown eyes that can melt the hardest of hearts.

Early on, he showed signs of being extra special.  At 8 weeks old, he began his obedience classes.  At 8 months old, he began dual classes of obedience and therapy dog training.  Excelling at all tests and challenges sent his way, Skyy passed his Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog International tests with flying colors. He is now fully certified, allowing him access to various facilities, including the VA Medical Center, where he visits each Saturday to the delight and anticipation of what has become his best buddies.

The residents in the VA, who gave much in service to their country, ask for so little—companionship.  The men and women who served so selflessly just want someone to visit them, which Skyy is very happy to do.  Along with his family members, Skyy is delighted to spend a few hours visiting and interacting with the patients, residents and staff.  With a happily wagging tail and a very enthusiastic personality, Skyy makes his rounds to an ever-growing list of must-visits.

According to the facility’s volunteer coordinator and our first-hand accounts, Skyy has made a visible (and remarkable) difference.  Patients who are withdrawn and quiet, openly talk to Skyy and share things with him they don’t share with others.  They find comfort and tranquility in petting him.  He listens without judgment and offers calming support, often bringing the peace the patients need and can’t find through other outlets.  His presence seems to bring out what the patients often keep in—things they need or that are bothering them.  Thanks to Skyy, a patient who was quiet during group sessions is now talking during them about their wonderful visitor.  Some veterans who felt they had nothing to smile about, openly grin when they see Skyy.  Other patients who were not initially happy to have Skyy visit, now can’t resist his kisses and they look forward to him sitting on their lap.  One patient even provides Skyy with his own pillow on the bed so they can watch TV together in comfort.  When Skyy leaves, they give each other high fives.

The best part of Skyy’s story?  It’s just beginning!  Skyy has so many more adventures to go on and much more love and happiness to share.  Skyy truly is a dog who makes a difference.

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Muddy boy

So what happens when your border collie has to run and exercise but it has been snowing and raining the past 2 days?

We are going to get a bath at Larry’s Laundromutt in Sewickley before we go home!

By the way, Skyy is in his glory right now! He loves being muddy!

Skyy Drawing by Lily

Earlier this week when we visited the Bethel Park School District, one special student named Lily drew a pic of Skyy in less than 1/2 hour while we were presenting to the class! I asked if I could share it with all of our readers.

Skyy and I think this is amazing! Lily has some real talent. Skyy and I both send our very best wishes for her and what seems could be a very talented future!

Nice work Lily!

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Skyy’s Visit to IMS – Bethel Park, PA

On Monday, 11/12, Kellee, Skyy and I had the honor of participating in Independence Middle School’s (Bethel Park, PA) Veterans Day program. The day started with a lovely breakfast cooked and served by the members of the student council and Bring A Smile To The Service Group. The veterans and their families were treated to a patriotic celebration that included the students singing several emotion-packed songs and an original poem written by two of the students. Many of the veterans in attendance were deeply touched by the enthusiasm, appreciation, and courtesy that was shown to them. Their service and sacrifices were not forgotten. Skyy was a hit. Greg, a Marine vet, requested that his picture be taken with Skyy. Of course, Skyy, the ham, was happy to oblige. He is not one to let a photo op go by!

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I spent the afternoon providing students with the history of the border collie breed, the difference between service and therapy dogs and showing them what makes Skyy a much-loved and anticipated visitor to the Aspinwall, PA, VA hospital. Skyy was in his element. The more the students cheered for him, the more he showed off. By the end of the day, after having performed five separate presentations in order to accommodate more than 600 students, Skyy was tired but very happy to have been an honored guest.

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Kudos to social studies teacher/student council and Bring A Smile To The Service Group adviser Jenn Makel (proudly raised by a Marine, as her shirt said) and principal David Muench for providing the support the students needed in order to put together a well-coordinated, enthusiastic celebration of those who have served our country. A big thank you to all of the students for making us feel so welcome. A special thank you to Matthew R., who had been our contact throughout the planning stages.

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Great job by all! Perhaps we can do it again! God bless our vets.

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Skyy’s Injury

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Last weekend as my wife and I were cleaning up the yard for the winter, Skyy and his sister Syrah were using the nice day as a chance to run around and enjoy life.

Suddenly, Skyy came up lame and would not put weight on his left front paw. We looked over his paw and leg vigorously and found nothing. After ten minutes, Skyy was back to his old self.

Later in the week, we noticed that he was favoring his paw.especially in the mornings. We had a big weekend planned for Skyy and Syrah, so I made an appointment with the Vet.

It turns out that Skyy may have poked himself or bruised his paw and was starting to lick his paw too much, causing more damage. Luckily, the paw was not infected, but due to the injury, we needed to get the paw wrapped up and our weekend plans were dashed. We were excited about the chickens on the wrapping tape!

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I am happy to report that Skyy is feeling better, but we can not unwrap the paw for another few days to allow healing. We look forward to getting back on track with our adventures in the next few weeks.

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US War Dogs

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Walking through the VA with Skyy on Saturday I noticed a collage of 3 photos hanging on the wall dedicated to the working dogs of the US Armed Forces. These are canines that neither Skyy nor I would want to tangle.

I recall watching the movie “Megan Leavy” a few months back, based on the true-life story of a young Marine corporal whose unique discipline and bond with her military combat dog saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq. How difficult must it be for these men and women whose lives rely so much on a furry companion to give them up when they retire.  I don’t think I could do that.

A quick search on the internet and I found the following website: https://www.uswardogs.org. There are some incredible stories on this site that tells the tale of these fantastic soldiers and the training, discipline, and dedication they give to these magnificent animals.

As always:

Thank you for your service!

Dan and Skyy

Therapy Dogs International Achievement

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TDIA Certificate for Skyy!

Yesterday, Skyy and I received our award for completing 50 visits on behalf of TDI-DOG.org. The certificate came with a pin and a thank you letter from the President of TDI. Skyy and I have been visiting the VA Hospital – HJ Heinz campus and HCR ManorCare in the Noth Hills of Pittsburgh since this March.

We have made so many friends in these past months and we cherish our visits every Sunday. There have been several friends whom we made friends that are no longer with us. Each of those lovely people had at least a few moments of relief due to a happy, furry face.

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Our TDI Certificate.