My Early Years
I was born in Pennsylvania on the 26th of August 2004 as part of the Canine Partners for Life (CPL) Breeding Program. My parents are Cindy and Quick (a champion bird dog) and I have a large number of siblings, some of which are also service dogs. I spent the first year of my life learning basic skills such as sit, stay and down, in the Puppy Prison Program. I spent six months in a women’s correctional facility and six months in a men’s one so I wouldn’t get use to one sex over the other. After I turned one year old, I moved to the Canine Partners for Life training facility in Cochranville, PA and spent a year learning many new service skills such as: turning lights on and off, opening and closing doors, retrieving items and even helping with the laundry. I graduated from CPL in July of 2006 as their first cardiac alert service dog after being partnered with Marty and completing a month long training session with her.
Taking care of Marty is my number one priority. I alert her to her heart condition (Acute Malignant Vaso-Vagal Neurocardiogenic Syncope) anywhere from five to twenty times a day. We are together 24/7 and I alert even when I am technically off duty. When I alert my nose begins to itch/tingle and I rub my muzzle on Marty’s legs to let her know if she needs to stand still, sit down or lay down. When her heart begins working correctly I then let her know it is safe to move again.
(The humans haven’t figured out exactly how I alert yet. I hear them say things like maybe I smell, see or hear changes in the body. I hope one day they will understand my abilities, until then I will just keep doing what I do best, Alert)
Work does not stop with Marty. I am not only a cardiac alert service dog, I also have the ability to detect seizures and diabetes in people and animals which make me extremely aware of those around me. I have alerted strangers a number of times over the years. Once, I needed to detour Marty a few blocks out of her way to ensure the safety of people in a downtown building with a strong chemical smell coming out. Not to mention alerting my best buddy Chewbacca (a collie) to his seizures.
One of our toughest days we experienced, was the bombing at the Boston Marathon. We were walking home from a Red Sox game down Boylston Street to watch the marathon when the bombs went off. We were far enough away from the blast that we were okay, just shaken up. When people started running towards us screaming, crying and bleeding, it was my job to keep Marty calm and safe. We ended up trapped in the crowds one block over from the blast zone. The noise of hundreds of emergency vehicles was painful to my ears and it was scary not being able to see past the sea of legs surrounding us. I witnessed the kindness of humans that day. A group of people noticed me and Marty and formed a protective wall around us. It took hours to arrive safely at home, a walk that usually only takes half a hour. Marty was not feeling well, so, we stopped at a small bakery with some of the marathon runners and rested. The staff went out of their way to keep us warm, fed and safe. Honestly, I still have a difficult time walking past where the bombs went off even today. Marty lets me take it slow which I appreciate and together we are healing the emotional repercussions of that day. I am proud to call Boston my home.
One thing I always enjoy doing is volunteering for Canine Partners for Life and American Charities. We set up a booth and spend the day teaching people the amazing skills service dogs like me have and how people can spread the word too.
Lately, Marty and I have been busy preparing for her art shows. First we walk around Boston, MA where she looks for inspiration for her paintings. Then, I spend time under her desk just waiting for her to drop a paint brush so I can help pick it up. This happens more than you might think. In addition to this I work once a week at a Coffee Roaster in Chatham, MA called The Art of Roasting during the school year and enjoy helping at the Farmers Market selling coffee during the summer. I also help with the chores around the house. Such as helping with the laundry, taking out the recycling, turning light on or off and picking up items.
When I am not working I enjoy playing with my best friend Chewbacca daily. I love squeaky toys, puzzles that have treats inside, cat toys, laying in the sun and rolling in the grass or snow.
I have traveled many places over the last eight years. Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, Cape Cod, Dallas, Colorado, Orlando, Las Vegas, Seattle, Santa Fe, Maine, New Hampshire, St. Louis…well the list goes on and on. I enjoy going to restaurants, Red Sox and Bruins games, attending the theater, movies and art museums. I have been to Disney World six times! (It’s a Small World is my favorite ride) I am a honorary mascot for LexRobotics, a high school robotics team and I have traveled by bus with them to Pennsylvania and Missouri for the FIRST World’s Championship. I am also proud to have participated in a cognitive research project at Harvard University. My life is very full.
After almost nine years of working I am preparing to retire. I will enjoy spending my retirement time staying with Marty and family while keeping an eye on her next service dog. The process of finding a new cardiac service dog will take Marty and CPL some time, so I still have a few more months of service and travel to enjoy.
In the meantime, events are being planned to help Marty fundraise for my successor. She needs to raise $10,000 by June 2015. Please click on the donate tab above if you would like to help.
I am happy to announce that I am going to be in a photography book due out in June 2015 called Dogs On Cape Cod by Kim Roderiques.
The most exciting news is I am going to be a movie star!
Long Haul Films from Boston/London is making a documentary about my story and abilities due out after my retirement 2015/2016.