A Microchip Miracle: The Gift of Reunion

Like so many of us who share our lives with a beloved dog, we had our dog Teddy microchipped when he became a permanent family member after a short foster period. And although life is fickle, and nothing we do can guarantee that a lost dog will be reunited with its hopeful humans, anything that can make it possible is definitely worth the effort.

The American Humane Association estimates that over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year. According to the Petfinder adoption site, one in three pets will become lost at some point during their life. And while only approximately 22 percent of lost dogs that enter animal shelters are reunited with their families, the return-to-owner rate for micro chipped dogs is over 52 percent, a staggering 238 percent increase!

While these statistics are eye-opening, there’s nothing like a true-life story to bring home the message that a tiny microchip can make a huge difference in an outcome. When I posted on the National Dog Week Facebook Page asking for someone to share their personal microchip reunion story, Bebe Faryewicz sent me her family’s touching story about their German Shorthaired Pointer, Kris.

Bebe relayed that when her dog-loving daughter Valerie was only nine, she’d saved her money for a German Shepherd dog. She took great care of this dog – feeding, training, providing lots of play time that even included “dressing up” the big dog. At 13, Valerie remained a responsible young person; a good student who’d garnered recognition for many achievements. Bebe, and her husband Jim, thought their daughter deserved another dog.

According to Bebe, “We often visited family friends on their ranch where they had German Shorthaired Pointers. Valerie came to really liked the breed.” At that time, the Farywicz family was living in Plano, Texas, but usually traveled to spend time with family in Arkansas during the holiday season. During one of those visits, Bebe and Jim located a German Shorthaired Pointer breeder in Arkansas.That Christmas, Valerie’s surprise present was a puppy she named Kris, in the spirit of the holiday.

Bebe says Kris was very sweet, affectionate and smart even as a pup. He was a working dog, however, always chasing birds, butterflies, dragon flies, squirrels, and rabbits. His instinct for pointing birds found him running hard on the family’s 500 acre ranch, often until he dropped. Unfortunately, due to these breed traits, Kris eventually became lost in March 2013. “We lived in a house with a fenced in back yard. There was a partially broken picket, and Kris managed to break through the picket, probably chasing after an animal. By the time I realized he was gone, it was too, late,” Bebe sadly recalls.

The Farywiczs searched for Kris long and hard, doing everything possible to find him; visiting at least 50 shelters, calling vets, and putting up signs. But three months later, when the family relocated to Arkansas, the local ground search ended with their move. For several months, however, Bebe continued to search online.

As you can imagine the unresolved loss of their beloved dog was devastating. “Our hearts were broken. I had terrible thoughts of him getting injured, being out in the cold (which he did not like), or crying during storms,” Bebe says. The family held out hope that someone had found Kris and had taken care of him, but remained distressed about his unresolved disappearance.

Then, in June 2017, Bebe received a call from a veterinarian in Texas – Kris had been found by a rescue group in the town of Garland. With the information contained on his microchip he’d been traced to them. “I couldn’t believe my ears,” Bebe says. The rescuers who’d taken Kris in loved him and were so excited about finding his family that they drove that night all the way from Texas to Arkansas; at least a six hour drive, to reunite him with the Faryewiczs.

When Kris was found he was weak, dehydrated, skinny, had hookworms and suffered from lung inflammation. When the rescue group brought him to the vet, it had been determined that Kris hadn’t been on his own that long because he was relatively healthy; he had no liver or kidney problems. At age twelve, however, he’d become blind and deaf. According to Bebe, “We suspect someone took care of him for quite a while, and they either ignored the chip information, or never mentioned he was micro chipped to a vet. And we’re guessing, despite his advanced age, he’d escaped somehow, like he had done with us. I’m sure his new owners loved him like we did. At least, that’s our hope.”

Kris may have begun his life with the Faryewicz family as a Christmas gift, but his lasting gift was that of reunion defined as the act of getting people, and their pets, together again after they have been apart. Bebe, Jim, their son Jimmy and of course Valerie, remain grateful for all those who were involved in their dog’s rescue and return.

Microchipping is an inexpensive, simple, permanent, and painless procedure that can be safely administered by your dog’s veterinarian. Remember to register the microchip so that it’s included in a national database, and keep your contact information updated when you move. To ensure your dog’s chip is operational and critical information is up-to-date, ask your vet to scan your dog during an annual veterinarian checkup.

Hopefully, you’ll never experience the angst and uncertainty experienced when a pet goes missing, or is stolen. But knowing that you’ve had your dog microchipped can offer a sense of hope and ultimately, the gift of reunion. Just ask the Farywicz family.

About the Author:
According to Chinese star-gazers, Lisa Begin-Kruysman was born during the Hours and the Year of the Dog. It’s no surprise then that she’s made canines the focus of her award-winning works of Fiction and Non-Fiction, and social media platform. She is the recipient of the DWAA’s Maxwell Medallion and the North Shore Animal League America Award and the author of Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher (McFarland & Co.) and other titles. Her writing is inspired by the licks and love of her adorable foster-to-forever dog, Teddy. For more information please visit: www.lisabegin-kruysmanauthor.com

On the Scent of Life

On the Scent of Life

In the distance he saw it; the figure of a woman, emerging from a stand of pin oak and palmetto. He had to squint to make sure he was seeing right. Sometimes at dusk, when daylight mixes with the onset of early evening’s darkness, things get murky; one’s eyes can play tricks on one.

But the figure was real and young; willowy, dressed in a black T-Shirt and short black skirt. Her pale face framed by dark hair pulled tightly behind her head in a pony tail. Ahead of her trotted an unleashed scruffy brown and white dog.

Barefooted, she navigated the sandy soil filled with crab grass, prickly weeds and mounds that teemed with armies of fire ants with no problem.

The young woman moved slowly to where he stood in the middle of an overgrown vacant lot next to the motel where he’d been staying; a perfect place for walking one’s dog. Continue reading →

Being Brave for Bailey

Pet loss is a hard subject for all pet parents, but it can be especially hard for children. Being Brave for Bailey is a sweet book that helps children prepare for and deal with pet loss.

Being Brave for Bailey was written by a veterinarian, Dr. Corey Gut, for her niece, Lexie, who had an aging dog named Bailey that developed liver cancer. The book features lovely illustrations and a story that moves through the lifetime of the beloved pet. It’s written so children can easily understand, and also in a way that isn’t too heavy considering the subject matter.

You can purchase copies on the site BeingBraveforBailey.com, where you can also find a version for cat owners called Being Brave for Smokey. We also love that there is an option to buy a book for your local library. We would love to see this in libraries everywhere to help prepare kids for pet loss.

Tennile + SPOT have given Trevor a new meaning to “lifesaving”

Trevor Thomas has always had a passion for extreme sports, ranging from backcountry skiing to racing cars. Then suddenly, his entire world changed at age 35 when he learned that he had a rare autoimmune disease with no cure, leaving him blind within eight months. Thomas says, “I thought I’d been issued a death sentence. Every day my vision got worse. I went from being perfectly normal to having to learn everything all over again.”

Spot Guidedog

After being encouraged to get out on the trails by an inspirational speaker who was a blind hiker, Thomas began training for long distance hikes. He accomplished his first hike blind in 2008. While it was a huge achievement, he didn’t complete it unscathed and endured several broken bones. He then reached out to several guide dog organizations across the United States with a request for a dual-mode guide dog that not only could perform normal guide duties, but could also handle extreme hiking and navigating the back country.

Denied by all but one organization, his request was finally answered by Guide Dogs for the Blind. In 2012 Thomas and Tennille, an energetic black lab, graduated from training, marking the start of a truly unique and life-altering friendship.

“Trevor and Tennille are an amazing team and we are proud of all they have accomplished both on and off the trail. We are grateful for all of Trevor’s efforts to help change perceptions around blindness and to serve as an ambassador for our organization,” commented Karen Woon, VP of Marketing, Guide Dogs for the Blind.

To date, Thomas and Tennille have crested over 6,000 miles and are aiming to reach 7,000 this year. He says, “It’s mind-boggling the miles she has covered in only 4 years. There are many long-distance hikers who have not done as many miles as Tennille.” Thomas is the first blind person in history to complete a solo, end-to-end thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, which is 2,175 miles long. He says one of his biggest successes thus far was completing the Colorado Trail, since he attempted it in 2011 and was unsuccessful without Tennille. “There are no other guide dogs that I know of that do what Tennille does. She’s enabled me to do things not only personally but professionally that I otherwise would not have been able to achieve; in a sense, she saved me.”

While Thomas says they err on the side of caution and try to take every safety measure possible, sometimes things can be unpredictable while in the backcountry. They’ve had their share of close calls on the trail, but that it was always comforting knowing he had a way to reach out to get help if needed.

“Safety for Tennille and I is my priority when in the back country. No matter who you are, things can go wrong and my SPOT Gen3® is the most important piece of gear that I have to let folks know where I am and summon for assistance if needed,” comments Thomas. “And should I truly be in a life-threatening situation – I can remember a few close calls – the S.O.S. button on my SPOT device will be there for me.”

Not only does he carry a SPOT Gen3 for himself, but Tennille also has her own SPOT device which she carries on her pack. “It’s simple. She is very important to me and while I know she would never voluntarily leave me, if something were to go wrong in the back country and we were separated, then her SPOT will be pinging and we could find her,” he says.

When they aren’t on the trail, Tennille holds Trevor to a strict schedule. “Every day we hike 8 to 15 miles just to stay in shape. She can tell time and will definitely give me attitude if I am working in my office all day and we haven’t gone on our daily hike.” Tennille also enjoys car rides and visiting their local grocery. “People are always amazed when we walk into a store and I tell her my list and she will bring me to the items. We end up with an audience following us around. She can differentiate between specific chips and even varieties of the same sports drink brand.”

According to Thomas, Tennille has a very strict diet she must adhere to as all guide dogs do, and that “trail angels” will often bring her some of her favorites including bananas, baby carrots, mangos, broccoli, Greek yogurt and green beans. When they complete a thru-hike or a special trek, he says they have a tradition, “We both get filet mignon!”

Upcoming adventures for the pair include hiking the high altitude Collegiate Peaks Loop in Colorado, a total of 187 miles that will take around two weeks to complete. From there they will travel to California and thru hike the John Muir Trail to summit Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States. Completing this climb will make Tennille the first guide dog ever to do so and set a new altitude record for a blind person and guide dog at 14,997 ft.

Throughout the year and especially during September Guide Dog Awareness month, Thomas hopes to help educate society on the importance of what guide dogs do for people in everyday life. “None of the guide dog schools receive public funds. They are raised and paid for by donations only.”

In addition to supporting Guide Dogs for the Blind, Thomas is also passionate about his foundation, Team FarSight Foundation, Inc., which he founded in 2013 to challenge misconceptions and to push the boundaries of what is considered possible for a blind person to achieve. The Foundation is devoted to empowering blind and visually impaired young adults through outdoor activities like hiking. Through these programs, Team FarSight Foundation helps participants develop self-confidence and adaptive skills needed to succeed in mainstream society.

Ever optimistic, Thomas feels that every day is an accomplishment, focusing not on what they have done, but on the challenges ahead. He looks forward to taking on these challenges with Tennille by his side, saying, “She makes life more enjoyable because she is my best friend. She helps me to do expeditions that I wouldn’t be able to do by myself. The sky is the limit.”

During the month of September, Team Farsight Foundation will receive $5 from every SPOT Gen3 purchased on FindMeSPOT.com/GuideDog using promo code TENNILLE at checkout. For a limited time when using code TENNILLE between September 1 – 30, SPOT Gen3 will be discounted to $99.99 on its website, a $50 savings! In addition, supporters of Trevor’s inspiration and mission can make a donation to either organization by visiting GuideDogs.com and FarSightFoundation.org.

Second Chances

Second Chances

A battered pick-up truck rattles up to the curb of a neglected house. The vacant property’s lawn is infused with crab-grass, clover and dandelions. Wispy white puffs of dandelion tufts drift above the yard resembling tiny wayward ghosts.

From the truck exits a man with well-worn boots and face to match. A realtor, he seeks opportunity in this abandoned house now owned by a bank.

At age forty, this man has had his share of “second chances”, so many in fact, he’s lost count. But his friends and relations haven’t. Rehabs, bad investments, poor life choices – all have led him to start over again, once more, miles from home.

It’s been a lonely struggle.

The man’s assets are few; his old truck, a thousand bucks in the bank, and a rented studio apartment. With no property of his own, becoming a realtor has been a dicey proposition. While his well-dressed colleagues escort clients in luxury cars to fancy open-houses in gated communities, he’s found some success fixing and selling run-down properties in run down neighborhoods. This house presents his first Foreclosure, so recent, there is not yet “A for Sale” sign sprouting from the house’s overgrown front yard.

He wonders what’s become of the home’s former residents; their circumstance somehow resonates with him. He blocks this thought, moving along the side of the house to the back. Rusting gardening tools and a plastic watering can rest near a tangled mass of drooping stems and browning leaves that have overtaken an area that looks like it was once a garden.

He quickly punches a code on the home’s lock box. He is cautious. Warned that some foreclosed houses contain squatters, meth labs, or infestations of wild critters, he’s prepared for unpleasant surprises. The door creaks open to stillness, but within moments, the empty room is overcome with a plaintive cry; the saddest sound the man has ever heard. It draws him to the kitchen where beyond a safety gate, a small brown and white dog stands amid overturned bowls. All traces of food and water are gone.

The dog fixes its amber eyes on the man’s face. They speak of loneliness and despair. Spooked by the sudden appearance of a stranger, however, the dog hangs back.

“Good dog,” the man whispers.

Loathing and sympathy consume him. He feels hatred for those who have abandoned such a helpless soul. But his anger mingles with sadness. These people were forced to give up their home and pet – believing this was the best they could do for this dog. Hoping for someone, even someone like him, to come to the rescue.

The man removes the gate and sits on the kitchen floor. The dog settles at his side, licking at the man’s face, wiping away the tears that trickle from his eyes.

The man stands and walks around the kitchen. Plastered on the refrigerator door are photos of the dog surrounded by his former care-givers in happier times. Next to one photo is a handwritten note. “Please take care of our dog. He is a good boy but we can’t take him with us.”

He recalls the bumper stick on the back of a car that he’d seen the day before – the image of a dog’s paw with the words, “Who Rescued Who”. Now those words take on new meaning.

The man removes one photo in which the dog sits alone, staring up and into the camera. The rest of the photos he leaves. He crumples the pleading note. He wants to track these people down and rage at them, and then report them to the police for being so negligent. But what good would come of it? They are already cloaked in their own brand of desperation; it lingers in the walls and floors of this home.

According to his information, the family has vacated the home just days earlier. It is fate that has brought him here in time to be useful. The choice is clear. He will make a new home and life with this fellow cast-off. The thought of this lifts a weariness that he’s carried for a long time.

The man leads the dog out of the house toward the truck. He’ll pass on trying to make any money on this empty shell. Let the bank seek the money owed them; he’s collected his commission.

Out on the front lawn, the dog pauses and with his nose pokes at a fluffy orb at the end of a dandelion stem. In the afternoon breeze, tiny white dandelion seeds float up in the air. One follows the dog as he heads toward the truck.

The man recalls a boyhood habit of wishes made on dandelion fluff. He laughs. “Did you make a wish boy?” he asks.

As if on cue, the dog walks to the passenger side of the truck, sits and waits. The door swings open and the dog hops in. The man goes round and settles into the driver’s seat. Both stare straight ahead as the car pulls away from this empty place, forming an alliance forged in second chances.

Lisa and TedAuthor’s Note:
This story was inspired by true stories related by realtors and a haunting, single blog post, of a down on his luck man who was trying to start a career as a realtor despite his age and string of unsuccessful attempts to make a new start. So many people, having no one to turn to, become desperate. Afraid of “Kill Shelters” they truly believe that their pets have a better chance staying behind in abandoned homes. I’ve spoken to a heartbroken man (a fellow author) in the military whose family had to leave his beloved cat behind when they lost their home while he was stationed in Afghanistan.

Although I often write works of Non-Fiction, I believe Fiction can truly engage the minds and emotions of readers and can be an effective way to start a dialogue that may benefit man and animal.

Lisa Begin-Kruysman is the author of Something’s Lost and Must Be Found a short story collection that celebrates the dog-human bond and Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher, the true story of one man’s mission to let every dog have its day…and week! To learn more about the author and her work please visit: www.lisabegin-author.com

 

Wrangler Honored as 2016 Guide Dog of the Year

Wrangler the seeing eye dog on the Today show Wrangler was honored as 2016 Guide Dog of the Year! The annual award is given by Canine Company to celebrate the important work of guide dogs and raise awareness of Guiding Eyes for the Blind

Wrangler, a 19-month-old yellow Lab guide dog-in-training, has been honored with Canine Company’s 2016 Dog the Year Award for his work as a national ambassador for Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

Canine Company President and CEO Jennifer Hill presented the award to Wrangler during a dinner following the Guiding Eyes Golf Classic June 13.

For 14 months, puppy-in-training Wrangler appeared as a regular on the NBC Today Show to raise awareness of the mission of Guiding Eyes for the Blind and the story of its guide dogs. He garnered more than 212,000 Instagram followers and traveled thousands of miles to raise awareness about the benefits of service dogs. The show’s cast, crew and viewers fell in love with the puppy as he educated them about how guide dogs transform lives.

“Wrangler captured the hearts of millions of people as he grew up before our eyes on television,” said Hill. “His happy, confident personality helped us all understand more about the important work these amazing dogs do, and we are proud to celebrate him with the 2016 Dog of the Year Award.” Wrangler received a trophy and a basket of toys and treats along with his new title.

Wrangler is now undergoing his final and formal training and Guiding Eyes hope to match him with a person who is blind or visually impaired in the fall. They will spend three weeks training together at organization’s Yorktown facility before Wrangler heads to his new home and life as a guide dog.

Wrangler the 2016 Guide dog of the year

About Guiding Eyes for the Blind

Guiding Eyes (www.guidingeyes.org) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides guide dogs to people with vision loss as well as service dogs to children with autism. Since its inception in 1954, Guiding Eyes has grown to be one of the foremost guide dog schools in the world, known for its accredited training programs and lifetime commitment to its graduating teams. Guiding Eyes is dependent upon contributions to fulfill its mission and provides all services free of charge.

About Canine Company

Canine Company (www.caninecompany.com) provides at-home pet care products and services that help pet parents keep their dogs and cats safe, healthy and happy. The company offers Invisible Fence® brand pet containment systems and Manners at-home obedience training across New England, New York and New Jersey as well as mobile grooming and pet sitting in select markets. For information, call 800-818-DOGS (3647).

For more about Wrangler, visit his blog!