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    Pawsitive Energy

    Muttluks Woof Wish Champion - Michelle Delaney

    Muttluks Woof Wish Champion - Michelle Delaney

    A Dog’s Best Friend in Southwest Florida

    Our Woof Wish spotlight this month is on Michelle Delaney, a remarkable woman who I had the good fortune to meet and talk with at the recent Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Florida.  Michelle is one of the great pet champions of southwest Florida.  An award-winning trainer, she owns and operates the Shelzsmide K9s Dog Training facility in Naples, Florida. Michelle is also the founder and runs the Big Cypress German Shepherd Rescue (BCGSR), a non-profit organization she started to rehabilitate German Shepherds. That’s all in her spare time!

    In her real job Michelle is Lieutenant Delaney, a 28-year veteran of the North Collier Fire Department (pic below). There, she works with search and rescue, usually to help with missing and endangered elderly cases that are reported, almost daily, in her area. As Michelle told the South Florida Fox4 News, “Since I’m with the fire department search and rescue this is just another part of our duties. With as much training as we’ve done with the tracking, it all just fits hand in hand. We didn’t want people standing out on a street corner wondering where their loved ones are, we can help bring a loved one home. In a matter of minutes my family of German Shepard’s can locate a lost person and it all starts with a simple scent. As one takes a step there are thousands of skin rafts’ that fall off onto the ground getting stuck in the shrubs, and we can go from there.”

     

    Geronimo, the first

    Michelle became involved with training dogs 18 years ago when she purchased her own ‘personal protection dog’, Geronimo. “Geronimo turned out to be a fear biter, biting everyone that came close to him,” she explained. “Trainer after trainer tried fixing him, but it just made him become more aggressive.” Deciding to take matters into her own hands to see what she could accomplish, Michelle began taking classes, going to workshops and training in a positive, self-rewarding style. Utilizing ‘operant conditioning’ - word association between a behaviour and a consequence, (better known as response-stimulus conditioning), Michelle formed an association between the dogs’ response [behaviour] and the stimulus that follows [consequence]. Positive reinforcement is anything that increases a behaviour - makes it occur more frequently, makes it stronger, or makes it more likely to occur. A negative is anything that decreases a behaviour and makes it occur less frequently, makes it weaker, or makes it less likely to occur.

    “Everyone told me I should put him down, but I said no. I’ve put too much time effort and money into Geronimo and I’m going to put him into a different mind frame and I’m going to make this work.” The results were encouraging. Geronimo, though never fixed completely became a compassionate and loving part of the family, reliable enough to protect Michelle and to take everywhere. What it did do was inspire Michelle to continue training in this manner.

    Shelzsmide K9 Training

    In 2006, she opened Shelzsmide K9s (name origin is the result of her Goddaughter Ashlie mispronouncing her name) with the goal of providing the highest quality of dog training from family companion dogs to protection dogs.  At Shelzsmide K9'S, Michelle and her team apply the same methods she used with Geronimo. Positive reinforcement, not negative stimulus, always being careful to preserve the relationship between people and their dogs. They utilize the dogs’ innate instincts; rewarding and reinforcing appropriate behaviour. “We must be doing something right,” we are building new bonds with trust and loyalty. I guess word travels.” Their site http://www.sk9dogtraining.com offers many testimonials about Michelle’s training successes.

    Big Cypress German Shepherd Rescue

    Another of Michelle’s ventures is Big Cypress German Shepherd Rescue, http://www.saveagermanshepherd.org/. It was founded as a non-profit in 2015. “It’s not unusual to find a dog tied up to the front porch of my house that someone has abandoned,” Michelle commented, “I would vaccinate, feed and place these misplaced German Shepherds. That's what inspired the rescue. Now Michelle is dedicated to the rescue of homeless, abandoned, unwanted, abused, and neglected German Shepherd dogs and puppies. “When you physically, emotionally and nutritionally, rehabilitate a German Shepherd they become loving and loyal companions,” she explained. Because BCGSR is a non-profit support comes from the services’ many fund-raising activities like the Muddy Paws’ annual Dog Biathlon held annually in Anniston, Alabama. They also hold various fund-raising events throughout the year like the Halloween and Christmas photo events, a talent contest and K9X games where both dogs and humans compete together to strengthen that bond even more. 

    Rina, an inspiration

    One of Michelle’s search and rescue dogs was a German Shepherd named Rina. Rina was the North Collier fire departments’ first canine to excel in urban tracking, wilderness trailing, building searches, open area search and off leash obedience. Rina was an exceptional and inspirational dog. She continued to excel at tracking after developing Canine Degenerative Myelopathy and requiring the use of wheels for mobility.  

    “Rina was blessed that a friend who had a wheel chair for her to use and sent it as soon as she heard the horrifying news,” Michelle explained, “Unfortunately Rina didn’t realize she was in a wheelchair and kept rolling in the chair. Then a wonderful company stepped in, Handicapped Pets – Walkin’ Wheels, http://walkinwheels.com/ to provide a means for Rina to get around. This enabled her to continue tracking and playing with the other dogs as normal as can be.” 

     Scout & Muttluks

    Rina has since passed but what brought Michelle and Muttluks together was a new dog Scout, a handicapped six-week-old German Shepherd puppy that Michelle was trying to find a home for. Scout came to the rescue the day before Rina was set free. Scout caries on the legacy of Rina overcoming a devastating condition. Scout was born with a malformation of her right front paw and was given up to BCGSR in the hopes that the organization could care for her in her difficult journey. Scout, who will need extensive medical treatment, has since found a loving home. Muttluks has generously donated Mud Monster boots in several sizes to protect Scout’s partial limb and accommodate her growth ahead.  

    As you can see Michelle is an incredible and needed benevolent resource to the canines of southwest Florida. It was a pleasure to meet you Michelle and hear about the wonderful work you and your team do.

    If you or anyone you know has a Woof Wish story to tell or, needs assistance through the Woof Wish program please contact us at muttluks@muttluks.com.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Woof Wish Champion - Megan Size

    Woof Wish Champion - Megan Size

    Megan Size and Layne

    This month Muttluks’ Woof Wish spotlight is on Megan Size and her regal 4 year-old German Shepherd Layne. Megan and Layne hail from South-Central Ontario.

    Layne entered Megan’s life in 2013. Megan had recently moved into a new home following two attempted break-ins and robberies at her previous residence. Besides being somewhat shaken, she confided, “ever since I lost my family dog, I knew in my heart I was missing the companionship of a dog.”

     A student and dog trainer, Megan suffers from a previous work-related injury that resulted in disc herniation and chronic back pain. She also has a bad knee, suffers from anxiety, depression, OCD and ADHD.

    Megan realized that the time she spent with her Shepherd Layne helped ease her anxiety. “He already knew what to do when I was stressed out and would cuddle with me on the couch, or in bed, or just pay a lot of attention to me” she explained. Megan consulted a friend with a service dog and a counsellor who both encouraged her to transition Layne from a pet to Megan’s service dog. “We still have some training to do,” she reports, “but he is doing beautifully.”

     “Since getting Layne, I’ve attended teacher’s college (which is almost done). I definitely wouldn’t have been able to get through the stress of teacher’s college without Layne,” she was quick to add.

     Megan used to be an avid sports enthusiast until she injured her knee and back. But again, since getting Layne, she’s working a lot harder at getting back into sports and physical activity. Together they hike, snowboard, camp and swim in the wilds of rural Ontario.

     “He is such a happy-go-lucky boy I can’t imagine my life without him. Since getting Layne through his service dog training though, I’ve been more diligent in his exercise, because a tired pup is a well-behaved pup,” said Megan with a laugh.

    If you or anyone you know has a Woof Wish story to tell or is in need of assistance through the Woof Wish program please contact us at muttluks@muttluks.com.

     

    Woof Wish Champion - Sarah Broderick

    Woof Wish Champion - Sarah Broderick

    Sarah Broderick and The Gift of Titan.

    Muttluks is pleased to introduce Sarah Broderick and Titan, her six-year old Golden Retriever. Based in Anacortes, Washington, Sarah and Titan are in the Woof Wish spotlight this month.

    Sarah, who is now retired, evaluated, trained and matched service dogs to their people. As Sarah put it, “providing a highly trained dog for a person with a disability was a very rewarding experience.”

    Sarah says her own service dog Titan is a ‘shining light for me’. Titan has been a great comfort and aid for Sarah who suffers from debilitating panic attacks. It is because of Titan that Sarah can work, leave her home and basically participate in life. With Titan by her side Sarah continues to provide therapeutic care and visitations through Love on a Leash and Pet Partners, two national therapy dog organizations. She is also a co-founder of Dogs on Call in her home town of Anacortes. DOC is a “club” of like-minded volunteers who participate in numerous therapy dog programs in the county, visiting nursing homes, schools, and cancer patients.

    One story she told was particularly worth mentioning. “We worked with two speech therapists and two autistic boys. The goal was to help the boys communicate clearly. That was accomplished by giving Titan commands and having him perform tricks. Titan would only do the activity if he could understand the boys. After four years, the boys turned 16 and went on to work with an adult speech therapist but they had Titan spinning and bowing and picking up all sorts of objects! They even introduced him to staff in the halls of the hospital.”

    “There are endless things dogs can do and Titan and I only reach a few people in need of love and comfort but those moments are precious. Titan wears two important hats as both a service dog and a therapy dog. I tell him how great he is but I don’t know if he understands. I do know that because of him my life is better! Titan’s light shines brighter every day for me. I am so lucky to have the gift of Titan.”

    If you or anyone you know has a Woof Wish story to tell or is in need of assistance through the Woof Wish program please contact us at muttluks@muttluks.com.

    Presidential Paws

    Presidential Paws

    PM Trudeau gives Muttluks as gift to President Obama's First Dogs.

    After 22 years of making dog boots, it never ceases to amaze me where Muttluks show up. In March 2016 I was surprised to find the Toronto media at our door inquiring about the Muttluks that were gifted by Prime Minister Trudeau to President Obama for the First Dogs, Sunny and Bo.

    The All Weather Muttluks were gifted as a Canadian icon, like maple syrup and we were most grateful. Muttluks has done many things and been many places but they have never been presented to a head of state, until now.

    I would agree that Muttluks are as Canadian as maple syrup and over the years we've worked hard to keep Muttluks a truly Canadian product.

    Muttluks – As Canadian as maple syrup eh!

    Following Atticus

    Following Atticus

    New England author and journalist Tom Ryan has been a friend of Muttluks for many years. Muttluks became acquainted with Tom and best-friend Atticus, (his deceased miniature schnauzer) when he contacted us to say he’d outfitted Atticus in Muttluks and they were heading out in the winter, to fund raise by climbing all forty-eight, four thousand foot peaks of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. A unique Woof Wish recipient, Muttluks was happy to support them every step of the way.

    Tom wrote the book “Following Atticus” about their adventures. Atticus is proudly featured on the cover of the book sporting his Muttluks. Tom refers to Muttluks ‘pawsitively’ in his book: “If we were heading to the White Mountains in December...he was going to have to wear his Muttluks on a regular basis (Muttluks are ingenious fleece-lined dog boots. He wore them often in Newburyport during the winter months to keep the sidewalk salt from burning the pads of his paws).”

    Will, a miniature Schnauzer rescue, joined Tom and Atticus for a short period. Seeing how Will blossomed from their care, love and night time lullabies was magical and heartwarming. We look forward to seeing the release of Tom’s new book "Will’s Red Coat".

    At Muttluks we were saddened to hear the passing of Will and Atticus. They were great Mantra Mutts and an inspiration to us all. Tom’s blog quotes “I keep returning to the words of Robert Frost: ‘I can sum up everything I know about life in three words. It goes on.’”

    We’re happy to introduce you to Toms’ new friend, Samwise A. Passaconaway, a mutt, adopted rescue dog. We were all inspired by Tom’s adventures with Atticus and Will and we suspect there’ll be just as great adventures ahead with Samwise by his side.

    Follow Tom Ryan’s blog: http://tomandatticus.blogspot.ca http://www.facebook.com/FollowingAtticusBook.