Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Promoting the Human Canine Relationship

Like Ripples in a Pond

Conneaut Lake Bark Park, Inc. wants to make Ripples in our community, like Ripples in a Pond. 

When you throw a rock into a pond, that rock makes a deep impact on the pond, and that impact then sends out ripples. The ripples start small but increase in size and eventually if the impact is deep enough the ripples will reach the outer most perimeter of the pond. 

CLBP Inc. has that potential, the potential to reach all the way to the outer perimeters of our community, potential to reach, young and old, the able and disabled, privileged and under privileged. With your help, CLBP Inc. can achieve this.

The relationship between a person and a dog or a family and a dog can make a difference in our community. But without proper knowledge, preparation, and training, this relationship can become a source of hardship, stress and frustration. Sometimes the results are disastrous and lead to the dog being tied outside, mistreated, abandoned or given over to shelters.

With the proper preparation, knowledge and training, this can become a powerful relationship, a source of enrichment and a source of stress relief resulting in life altering changes. This is the relationship that Conneaut Lake Bark Park, Inc. wants to promote.

This is the story of one such dog, a dog whose love reached far beyond her family.

Her name was Lacey. She was the smallest in a litter of 12 Golden Retrievers and I was the person blessed to acquire her. When I brought her home, she weighed less then 5 pounds. I didn't really have any "dog knowledge" and there was no Bark Park for me. I struggled in the beginning with a puppy that did normal puppy things, like chew and destroy, bite and bark, and who was almost uncontrollable to walk on a leash. The initial impact was not what I was expecting when I brought this cute little puppy home, with visions of playfulness, cuddling and companionship. In the beginning the stress and frustration almost caused an early demise of this little puppy, and it created tension and arguments within my family. It was 9 months into this relationship before I found the help that I needed.

The First Ripple was education and training. The result was the beginning of a bond between this puppy and myself that was to last a lifetime
The Second Ripple moved beyond me, now to my family. A dog who brought laughter, stress relief, and love to all of us.  A furry, four legged dog, who taught us how to love differently, unconditionally and with understanding and compassion.

The Third Ripple moved beyond my family as Lacey and I became involved in obedience competitions. She impressed those around her, in spite of the fact that she wasn't the "prettiest" Golden.
Photo by Maria Firkaly

The Fourth Ripple occurred when we learned about Therapy Dogs and went through the required testing to become a Registered Therapy dog team.

The Fifth Ripple brought changes in our whole county when Paws Hand Delivered therapy dogs became reborn.

The Sixth Ripple reached out farther than I ever could have imagined. Through our involvement with Paws Hand Delivered, countless peoples' lives were changed forever and smiles appeared everywhere she went. She was a born comedian and she left her paw prints on many hearts as she visited disadvantaged, sick, and elderly citizens throughout our county.

The Ripples that followed were bigger and more far reaching than I knew.

You see, when Lacey was not yet 9 years old she was diagnosed with a type of liver cancer. The vet informed me that she would probably only survive for about 2 weeks and would become very ill. It did not take long before people heard of her illness. My phone rang at least twice a day with someone, who I didn't even really know, telling me they were thinking of us and praying for us. They would share a story of how Lacey had an impact on them, or someone they loved. My mail box filled with cards of care and concern.

But Lacey wasn't done making Ripples. She defied the odds and she survived. No, "survived" isn't the right word. She lived fully for two years and two months beyond that diagnosis. Her coat remained shiny, and with her tail wagging she continued to visit people in nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and church camps. She continued to teach love and compassion beyond our own circumstances to those around her. She taught my veterinarian the power of the love and the strength of the bond between person and dog. I know this because he wrote me a letter after she passed away.

This year marks 6 years that Lacey has been gone, and I still will encounter someone who remembers her and they will share a story of how she touched a life.

None of this story would have been possible without the help of a friend who opened my eyes to what you can do with your dog. Not everyone has a friend like this. Trust me I struggled for a long time before I found the help that I needed.

Now, with Conneaut Lake Bark Park, the education, training, knowledge and opportunities are available to anyone and everyone. Not every dog is created to be a Therapy dog, but every dog has something to give, if people just understand how to achieve it.
With the creation of CLBP, and its resources, we have the ability to create healthy productive dog/person relationships, which then have the potential to reach out to people around us in ways beyond our imagination. We have the ability to reduce the number of dogs that are abandoned, put down or put into shelters, because we now have the means to educate, train and equip both dog and person.

The development of Doggie Day at the Bark Park has greatly enhanced this process. It provides the working person the opportunity to acquire a dog or puppy and to know that while they are at work, that furry family member is being cared for, and is learning manners and getting the exercise it requires. So at the end of the day when the person is tired from work, they can pick up their dog and the dog too has had a full day, and the two of them can return home to the enjoyment of each other's company.

Pearl and Zoey at Doggie Day Care at the Conneaut Lake Bark Park.
Doggie day care also provides a secure place for the older dog, who might need that special attention, or for the dog of a person who must undergo medical treatment for long hours several days a week.

There are many dogs with the potential to impact on their owner, their family and their community.  With the services Conneaut Lake Bark Park can provide, who knows, we might go from making Ripples in a Pond, to as far reaching as a Wave in the Ocean.

Article by Robin Peterson

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