Unleash New Possibilities in Your Life

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Elaine likes to start her morning at the window and thinking about the possibilities of the day ahead. While her sight may be fading, Elaine’s search for the promise of each day is strong. The glimpse of a new flower in the garden or a bird sighting brings a smile to her face.

It is a philosophy that has served her well for more than eight decades. Elaine had two children and lost her husband in a war when both youngsters were still in diapers. She found new possibilities in the tragedy and went to work while earning a degree in nursing. Elaine went on working and helping people until her faltering sight took her independence and ability to drive. That is when Elaine moved to the senior community she now calls home.

fold-63623_960_720One of her favorite new friends is Clyde. Elaine sometimes forgets his name, and just calls him “Sweetheart”, but Clyde doesn’t ever seem to notice. Clyde always sits as close as possible to Elaine’s wheelchair. So close, some people stop and watch their sweet exchanges of affection in the lobby of the senior community.

Clyde and Elaine have a lot in common. She likes to share stories of her family and Clyde likes to listen. Both are avid birdwatchers. Elaine knows the names of the various species and Clyde seems eager to learn more about one of his favorite past times.

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Clyde is one of the few visitors Elaine ever has. She has outlived most of her family and friends. She looks forward to school and church groups who might visit the senior community on special occasions. But week after week, she knows she can count on her faithful friend Clyde to come see her. Elaine shares some of her favorite stories over and over again, and Clyde never tells her he’s heard that story before. He is the most patient and polite conversation companions one could ask for.

Clyde’s love of birdwatching comes naturally, but not his skills as a great companion. You see Clyde is a bird dog. He is a Pointer mix and a therapy dog, trained to visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and rehabilitation centers. Clyde’s intensive training equips him to work with all kinds of people in a variety of situations.

Clyde and wheelchairClyde and his owner enjoy volunteering in pet therapy. They are part of the Animal Protective Association of Missouri or APA Adoption Center PetReach Program. Since 1983, PetReach has sent APA staff, volunteers and their pets into senior care facilities and convalescent centers. PetReach was the first no-fee, pet-assisted activity program in the St. Louis area. You can get more information about volunteering, pet education, pet adoption and PetReach therapy dogs at the APA website: http://www.apamo.org/

Another nonprofit in the Saint Louis area with free dog therapy teams is C.H.A.M.P. Assistance Dogs, Inc. CHAMP provides free assistance dogs and also offers a disability awareness education program, facility dogs and a reading program utilizing dogs. These are just a few of the services CHAMP has offered since 1998. Learn more volunteering, pet therapy, assistance dogs and other services at their website:   http://www.champdogs.org/ Spring_CHAMP5

Both nonprofits are a great way to help someone else. Sometimes it’s the best thing you can do for yourself too! You never know what you’ll learn in the process. Think of the ‘pawsibilities’ of volunteering with or without a dog.

 

Follow Hank to the Fun of Fast and Furriest to Help Homeless Pets

It’s said some of our most precious gifts we place in museums or vaults; others we take for walks. It is a very unique walk and run for dogs and people I want to share with you.

I think most dogs and pet people find ways to make friends. Just visit your local dog park to see how pets and owners mix and mingle.

BucaneerstateparkwldogsonbeachI recall a dog park visit where I met a woman and her pooch visiting the facility for the first time. Hank was met with wagging tails. Hank’s mom just moved from Atlanta. Other pet parents learned Hank came into her life in college and has been a constant companion through moves, break-ups and celebrations including the job promotion to Saint Louis. Hank is more than a great companion; he helps his owner meet new people and learn about their neighborhood.

Hank and his owner exercise together. I mean serious running. Hank is a Whippet, a superb athlete as well as a gentle companion. Several of us want to make sure Hank can stretch his legs in an upcoming event to help homeless pets.

The 8th Annual Fast and the Furriest 5K Run and 1-Mile Walk will be Sunday, April 24th at Hollywood Casino in Maryland Heights from 9am to 11am. The run is the Saint Louis original dog-owner professionally-timed race. Others with or without pets will take part in the walk at a leisurely pace or activities on the grounds. This is an event not only for athletes, but the entire family. Fast and Furriest also offers children’s face painting, vendor booths and food trucks.

Another fun element of the event to help homeless pets is Pooch Poker where walkers will be dealt playing cards at stations along the 1-Mile Walk route. Players with a winning hand receive a prize at the end of the walk!

Animal lovers don’t have to walk or run to participate to help pets and be a winner.  There are online options to take part in the Fast and Furriest. Plus for first time contributions are matched! A generous donor is matching participant pledges for Fast and the Furriest. $25 turns into $50; $100 turns into $200. Think of the possibilities for homeless pets!  There is also a social media component, share your online fundraising page with your family, friends, coworkers and neighbors. It is easy to share your passion for the APA on Facebook and other social media outlets. By getting the word out, you could win fundraiser prizes!

All proceeds from this event will benefit the APA’ s mission of bringing people and pets together, advancing humane education, and creating programs beneficial to the human-animal bond.

You can learn more about the event and register at https://apamo.org/event/apas-fast-and-the-furriest/

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Fast and the Furriest 5K Run and 1-Mile Walk

Pets are a Powerful Prescription for Healthier, Happier Lives: Starting with Health Benefits for Babies!

I saw a bumper sticker in the shape of a dog’s head that read: “Wag more –Bark less.” Great advice but it seems man’s best friend has a lot of lessons to teach us which can make us healthier and happier. In one of the hottest videos online, canine crawling coach, Buddy, helps his family’s baby learn how to get moving. Mom and Buddy’s owner, Valerie Stevens-Scott posted the video on YouTube with the caption: “Bear Bear hasn’t gotten the hang of crawling, so Buddy decided to show her how it’s done.”

This little baby girl just hasn’t figured out how to crawl on her own, so her loyal terrier pal, Buddy, decides to give baby Allie multiple demonstrations and a helping paw. As you can see in the video, Buddy is a good teacher and Allie soon is crawling.

Crawling help and companionship are not the only benefit dogs may offer to babies. Youngsters with pets may have added protection against allergies. Researchers found children under the age of 1 who had two or more dogs or cats as family pets saw a reduction in allergy development by the time they were 6 or 7. Additional medical research produced similar results, finding children with early cat exposure showed reduced the development of allergies later in life.

Pet ownership continues to provide health benefits as children move from toddling to adulthood. Youngsters and adults taking their dog out for a walk get more than heart smart exercise. Researchers and smart parents believe it may benefit social skills in an era of text messages and online chats. New research indicates walking with a dog leads to more conversations with neighbors, other dog owners, and helps people of all ages stay socially connected.

A 2014 study in the Journal Applied Developmental Science found that young adults with a strong attachment to cats and dogs also reported feeling more connected to their relationships and communities. And studies have shown those that have a pet live more fulfilled and busy social life live longer, happier lives.

The medical community believes companion animals are a good prescription in many cases. Pets are being used to help our nation’s war veterans heal from post-traumatic stress disorder. Our pets innately know when we need them most, which gives us a feeling of belonging and a self-esteem boost. Researchers in a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that pet owners had hearts that adapted better to stressful situations than non-pet owners. The American Heart Association cites a number of studies that found pet ownership may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Some data even indicates that pets help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and that owners with heart issues are more likely to survive heart attacks.

541030_10200807370730847_356137719_nI believe my two Maltese dogs, adopted from the Animal Protective Association of Missouri, are powerful and playful prescriptions against loneliness. The APA is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing people and pets together, advancing humane education and creating programs beneficial to the human-animal bond. They offer many services and programs for all ages. In fact, kids of all ages and community groups can take a guided tour of the APA and get a health boost by petting some of the awesome animals available for adoption. Check them out at http://www.apamo.org

How do you think your pets help you? I would like to know, please leave a comment with stories about your furry friends.
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