2018 Veteran’s Day Celebration

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This year on November 9th, 2018 Skyy and I will be attending a very special day in the Bethel Park School District celebrating and remembering our veterans. Although we have yet to meet, Skyy and I feel a special kinship towards a young man helping in the organization of this event. Matt is in middle school and has a particular passion for aiding our veterans and current military men & women. Skyy and I have heard that he is organizing boxes to be sent over to the guys and gals currently serving overseas, and Skyy’s information will be in there!

If you are a service member and received a box from this school, please comment below (if you are able) so you can let our buddy Matt know what you think!

We can’t wait until November 9th!

Thank you for your service!

The Border Collie rescue 9/11/2001 plus some!

Skyy and I wish to pay homage to Cowboy! Just look at his story below…another amazing hero!

By: Craig Wirth 9/11/2016

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – We have seen the anniversary stories about 9/11. Each is of tragedy and each involves heroes. This is the story of a man and his dog. We first met them right after September 11, 2001. We never forgot them so we went back to find the man. This update and remembrance is special and, definitely, ‘Wirth Watching’.

We all saw the pictures from New York City, Washington DC and Shanksville, PA. They united a country. And first responders became the new symbol of America.

Well after 9-11 it was a story of tributes and a story of heroes. For one Salt Lake man, it was a really special hero. A friend. The man is Dave Richards. The friend was a dog named ‘Cowboy’.

After the attacks of that day, within what seemed like just a few hours, they were at ground zero. ‘Cowboy’ and four other Utah dogs were indeed first responders. Among the best rescue dogs around.

Dave Richards remembers, “When we would ride the bus every morning from the Jacob Javits Center down to the World Trade Center, New Yorkers would be in the middle of the street with signs and flags supporting the efforts at the world trade center.”

For years, back in Utah, they had trained and trained at local construction sites and dumps with other rescue dogs for this kind of a calamity. Something about Dave and ‘Cowboy’ became very special, almost magical.

Richards says, “I think he knew. I think he spoke English. I could tell him anything I could…Get down from there and go there. Don’t do that just wait here for a second. It wasn’t, Stay!”

In a story we did 15 years ago, ‘Cowboy’ showed he could find the scent of a buried reporter in 20 seconds. But in New York it was the real thing. It was walking on top of beams that were still hot from the explosions. And over fires from the smoldering debris.

Dave told me, “I think about what he thought we were doing. You know, he didn’t know the trade centers had come down. He just showed up at this stinky pile of crap and concrete but he was the same dog. It was just like what are we doing today.”

The two looked for a miracle of life in the rubble. But there were no miracles. Just more rubble.

In our chat of 15 years ago, Dave remarked about how ‘Cowboy’ would never give up. And how he never balked at the challenge. Richards said, “He doesn’t have gloves and knee pads and hard hat. He just has what God gave him and he is giving his all in conditions without a respirator and working his butt off.”

For 8 days, they searched and searched. It was demoralizing to know there weren’t any people alive, just bodies. But it was in these conditions where ‘Cowboy’ seemed to sense he might have a unique gift that could bring some moments of calmness and relief to the responders.

Dave says, “If there was a stick on the ground or a ball he would grab it and flick it at you. So these firefighters sitting down all exhausted in a row outside the pile he would come up to them and he would look at them, pick up something and flick it at them and it would whiz past their heads, they loved it so they would find things for him to flick. He helped bring some sanity to the situation because it was pretty bazaar, it was pretty sobering when you got there.”

There was only one ‘Cowboy’. He would go on to work in Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

But like all heroes, they become lost to the ages. Cancer had set into the little sheep dog. Just as they had spent all the other days, Dave would spend cowboy’s last day together as one. “I took him to Sugarhouse Park and we spent the whole day laying on a blanket just watching the world go by.” A difficult world that cowboy made better, as a hero.

At the time, Dave and Cowboy trained with the Rocky Mountain Rescue Dogs. Three other dogs went to New York from Utah to join dozens of others from throughout the county. The last 9/11 dog died this past spring…. All heroes.

Peace of a Border Collie

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Last week Skyy and I visited our local nursing home. We had the honor of visting a patient who was in the loving care of hospice and on her last days. As we moved into the room, we were told that the patient was not doing well at all, but had loved animals their entire life. The patient was curled up in their bed laying on their side. I commanded Skyy “all four” and he promptly jumped up into bed with the patient and laid down allwoing the patient to spoon him. He wiggled up the bed a bit and every once in a while he licked the patient’s chin.

I stood there and was amazed how a high strung, ball chasing nut like Skyy could instantly become an instrument of peace. There is no doubt in my mind he understood the situation, and acted in the peacful and loving way that was not only appropriate, but beautiful and uplifting to all in the room. He was able to demonstrate the undying love associated with therapy animals to help bring peace in a time of suffering.

The prayer of St. Franics of Assisi, the patron Saint of animals, speaks volumes to this adventure:

Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life
DFS

How to safely approach a dog.

Skyy had his first adventure at a grade school last week! He was able to interacat with several grade school classes to teach the children how to safely interact with a new dog. I read a book called, “Don’t Lick the Dog” to the children which instructs them how to safely approach a strange dog. Then, they all had an opportunity to approach Skyy and try the techniques the book outlined. Skyy then did some agility, obedience and tricks for the dazzled children. We all had a great time!
Below is a copy of the facebook post the school district posted! Thank to all who were involved!
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The Bellevue kindergarten classes enjoyed a visit from Dan Sadler, Certified Therapy Dog Handler, and his dog, Skyy, on May 17th. Dan is a member of TDI (Therapy Dogs International). TDI is a volunteer group organized to provide qualified handlers and their therapy dogs for visitations to institutions, facilities, and any other place where therapy dogs are needed. Dan discussed types of service dogs, their role in the community, and training efforts. He also demonstrated the safe approaching of dogs, dog obedience, and caring for dogs. Skyy is a Border Collie and a registered Therapy Dog.

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Do you like dogs?

As the recreational therapist, Skyy and I walk around to patient rooms, the residents of the places we visit are questioned if they like dogs. Many residents have a puzzled look on their face when the question is asked, because they were not prepared to see any type of animal there. It is really fun to watch their reaction when Skyy comes into their view.

Suprise!

Oh how wonderful!

Sometimes, it does not go as well. A patient may say no. I liken the “no patient” to a guy like my father. See, Dad is a great guy, but he grew up on a farm when he was young. To him, all animals have a farm purpose and that is all. To ask him if he would like to see a dog is like asking him if he would like to have a visit from a pig or cow!

Skyy and I never take offense to a no. Who knows, maybe next time it will be a yes?

In the first visit to the VA, Skyy and I met a veteran who didn’t want anything to do with him. Skyy did not take it personally.

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On our second visit, our veteran friend said they would give Skyy a pat on the head. Skyy accepted this with grace.

On our third visit, Skyy’s buddy ask for him to put his paws on their lap. Skyy really loved this!

On our fourth visit and since then Skyy comes up to his buddy and, with permission, jumps up and gives lots of kisses.

Oh the difference we can make if we just keep trying and offering……

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Visiting our Veterans

We will always remember

We will always be proud

We will always be prepared

So we may always be free

These words are on a large glass panel when my wife, Skyy and I visit the VA each Saturday. The emblems of the 5 branches of militaary service are also etched in the glass.

Abraham Lincoln said, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” We go to the VA to remember, to be proud of my family who served, to thank those who were prepared to answer our nation’s call in thanksgiving that our family is free.

On top of that, these guys and gals are hysterical! I am always grinning walking around the place. They constantly kid each other and the staff, but there is a solid understanding of respect from all parties.

I will be telling some of their stories on this blog, never to use names or genders to protect Skyy’s buddies. The veterans always show their appreciation to to us visiting. We honor them and show our appreciation by visiting with a 41 poound ball of fur and energy!

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