It has been a little while since you have heard from Gopher and I here at Gopher sessions. It's okay, Gopher and I are doing great, still visiting, and still having fun. So where have we been??? After two years of contract work in late July, professional opportunities poured in for me. After careful consideration, discussion with Carla, Gopher, our families and even Squirrel, I chose an opportunity that although fiscally low, came with immense personal satisfaction and began working for Midwest Animal Rescue & Services (MARS). So now my life has truly gone to the dogs, and I get to spend my days helping a wonderful organization help animals find their road home. If you live in the Twin Cities metro and looking for a way to help MARS, go to www.midwestanimalrescue.org. If you do not live in the Twin Cities, or do but unable to help you still can as our fundraiser is coming up go to http://mars.wigglebutt5k.dojiggy.com/chadburg.
Now on to other news!!
1. Congratulations Finn and Marianne Howard!!! They won our photo contest!!! They were our only participants, but it does not make them any less winners!
Finn and Marianne, keep it up! This trick evolved out of a quintessential command for therapy work, the leave it command. Finn is so beautiful and if you two ever have the inclination, Gopher and I would love to count you among our therapy peers.
2. Meeting a celebrity golden and his human. Carla and I recently had the opportunity to meet Fmr. Capt. Luis Carlos Montalvan and his service dog Tuesday! Luis and his story chronicled in Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him is a true American hero. In his book he discusses the recent Iraq conflict, his service, and the service of others. He commends his brothers and sisters in arms and acts as an advocate for veterans and service animals. At the same time he respectfully sheds light on the institutions, its flaws with the hope they will do better. Most notably is his brave discussion of his own trauma a TBI combined with PTSD and other physical afflictions, and how his appropriately trained service animal has allowed him to function in his post war life. It is a must read, and will be chronicled in a movie in 2013 as well.
Chad, Carla, Fmr. Capt. Montalavan, and Tuesday:
In his book he gave me the term 'Intelligent Disobedience' which explains some of Gophers actions in our therapy work. I thanked him for this, his service, and the bravery he showed in telling his story, and his help for all of our veterans while he signed a book for a friend who has recently enlisted and then wrote the following inscription in my book.
3. HRH King Gopher, THD! Gopher has received his first title (Therapy and Helping Dog), he had actually completed the needs for this title (50 visiting hours) some time ago. I just finally sent it in to the AKC. When it came in the mail I was surprised by how proud this little patch made me, brought tears to my eyes. I am always proud of Gopher and his work, and although I am his driver and handler he is truly the reason the work gets done. His excitement and desire to work, and his annoyance when we miss working for a week is almost inconsolable. We (Carla and I) are lucky with how exceptionally he has been able to do the job we selected for him. Congratualtions Gopher, we are so proud of you!
Gopher and his Patch:
4. Coming Up! With our short break, Gopher and I have several articles to write and share. They will begin this evening, and there will be a new one posted each morning this week!
List and synopsis:
Evening 9/24/2012, Gopher Cards, we will be thanking Gopher card creators, and show you the digital images of the cards. Tell you how we use them, and how you can order them for your working dog.
Morning 9/25/2012, Not Always Positive, we will discuss a negative experience, how it was handled, and highlight that although our intent is always good you must always be an advocate for your partner first.
Morning 9/26/2012, Cruising, Images and highlights of summer driving with Gopher.
Morning 9/27/2012, Gopher Amazes Me Yet again, an interaction with a patient that transcends reason, and highlights Gopher's uncanny ability to relate to a patient and situation.
Morning 9/28/2012, How did I get here?, with the closing of September our first registration expires and we will have had Gopher for four years, I will reflect on the last two years of work and four years with Gopher. The effect it has had on me, and how my relationship with Gopher and our work has changed my perspective on the world.
It is good to be back and we look forward to reading your comments and e-mails!
Chad and Gopher