Meet Service Golden-in-Training Logan

My name is Suzan and I am a young woman living with multiple sclerosis in Maine. I have always loved Goldens, but sadly thought my dream of having one would never come to be. I suffer from profound fatigue and my limited energy was going towards part time work, resting and just the activities of daily living.

There was nothing left over. But I still got my Golden fix in different ways. One of my co-workers had three Goldens, was involved in Obedience and was formerly involved in rescue with her husband. We talked about Goldens all the time and lamented that we couldn't have one in the office with us.

One day I bought a particularly cute stuffed Golden and brought it into the office. We named him Dunkin as he was the color of our favorite beverage, Dunkin Donuts coffee with extra cream, and shared him by having him spend one week in my office and one week in hers. When either of us was having a particularly hard day, we'd bring Dunkin to the other's office to hug and remind us of the real Golden angels outside of work.

I added more stuffed Goldens to my collection at home, went to the annual Golden Retriever Club fun matches at a beautiful ocean side park, and bought the Rescue calendars each year for my office so I could look at Goldens every day.

Eventually, even part time work got to be too much and I had to retire on permanent disability last fall. This was a blessing in disguise as I was able to do something I had always wanted to do—volunteer with a local Service Dog organization, My Wonderful Dog: Assistance Dogs for People with Disabilities. I wasn't sure what I could do for them as my physical activity was limited but they were glad to use my occasional help in the office and I was able to do some computer work from home. Also, with my husband's help, we are able to be puppy sitters for when the puppy raisers/foster families go on vacation. Alas, there were no Goldens in the program, just Labrador Retrievers. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed, but found it so fulfilling to be involved with such a wonderful program nonetheless.

This organization is a tax deductible 501(c)(3) non-profit that specializes in the training of skilled animals to aid in the independence and integration of people with a wide range of disabilities. These special animals can be trained to provide balance and stabilization, turn light switches on and off, retrieve dropped items such as a cane or keys. Most importantly these dogs provide love and companionship for their disabled partners.

I had always thought that if I ever became permanently confined to a wheelchair or scooter I would consider a service dog for myself. I use a cane or scooter when I'm particularly fatigued or for long distances and don't know what the future will bring. When I learned that there are balance or 'walker' service dogs for people who can walk but have mobility issues, I was intrigued. I did a lot of research and talked to other people with balance dogs to determine if a service dog would be helpful to me and if I had enough resources to ensure a good life for the dog. After a lot of thinking I decided to go for it and submitted my application to the organization where I volunteered hoping that I would get a Yellow Labrador Retriever who I could at least pretend was a short haired Golden!

(Golden) fate was smiling upon me because when the director learned that it was a lifelong dream of mine to have a Golden she agreed to accept one into the program for me! Three weeks ago we picked up a little 9-week-old Golden girl from the breeder and I was fortunate to be involved from day one. Her name is Logan and she is the cutest, sweetest Golden puppy I have ever seen. . This photo is from our first scooter ride around the neighborhood together. It was really hot so I decided to give Logan a ride home!

A Golden  Retriever out of the Tarameg Kennels in Littleston, Pennsylvania. Logan is now living with her foster family (Beaman family of Cumberland, Maine shown here) and will be going to school at the training center at least twice a week. I will get to see her at least monthly at the foster family/puppy sitter skills training classes and we will get to puppy sit her during her two year training period.

Logan is now working in My Wonderful Dog's Teen Trained Assistance Dog program and Teen Summer Camp.

Since over half of service dog puppies do not graduate (usually due to health or temperament issues) there is no guarantee that Logan will make it. But I can't help but think that there is a higher power involved here and that one day I will have this Golden angel by my side. Learn quickly little Logan, I am waiting for you.

I know you will do so well when I use my scooter, being able to pick up things that I drop, open doors, press the elevator and automatic door buttons, retrieve items from shelves, etc. And because fatigue is a major symptom for me, Logan will be helping me to conserve energy in many ways by retrieving items such as the phone, turning light switches on and off and getting help if I need it.


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 Learn much more about Team Logan
    
Articles about My Volunteer Efforts
    
Our Feline Family
    
All About Logan
    
Dear Diary: Logan Reports her Current News

 


 

Famous model Golden Rusty

 

 






















Articles about My Volunteer Efforts
You can learn about some of mine and my husband's volunteer efforts through the following articles, that appeared in My Wonderful Dog's Winter 2005 Newsletter.

 

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Our Feline Family (as of August 2006)

Diva—This s our "pretty petite Persian Princess". Almost 5-years-old and 6 pounds, you wouldn't know this is the same matted, shaved, skinny (3 lbs. at 2-years-old), painfully shy girl we brought home from the shelter. Personality to spare, she's not afraid to tell off her older and much bigger brothers.

Max—The old man of the group at 16, Max was given to my husband before we met, by the breeder because he chewed on an electrical cord as a kitten and was not "sellable".

Fred—Fred is my heart kitty, the "momma's boy" and follows me wherever I go. I originally went to the shelter looking for one girl tiger kitty and came home with two 6-month-old boys! They are now almost 14.

Nile
—Fred's brother, he's the almost 20 pound food hound. He says he has "big bones". He knows how to open the door into the garage and has set off the alarm, bringing the cops to check on the house ... probably in retaliation for making him wear these Mickey Mouse ears!

Nile has trained Logan well. When Logan first saw him, she of course wanted to play. He stood his ground, puffed himself up, growled and swatted her on the nose. She has learned to respect all the kitties and whenever Nile growls at her she immediately lies down. It'll be even funnier when she's three or four times his size.

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All About Logan (from her point of view)

    

Best Tricks ─
Well, they're not exactly tricks but I know a lot of useful service dog commands. I like to prove that beauty and brains are not mutually exclusive! Here I am practicing an "under", very useful for restaurants when I need to go "under" the table!





Now all I need is a hula skirt!   

Likes ─ Being able to go wherever my people go, I'm one lucky dog! I get to go to restaurants, the mall, hotels, etc.

Pet-Peeves ─ People petting me when I'm trying to work (I know it's hard because I'm so cute!), evil fuzzy woobies with squeakers.

Favorite Foods ─ I am a cheese head! I also like stuffed Kongs, bully sticks, and knuckle bones. And we can't forget popcorn and peanut butter!

Favorite Walks ─
On the beach and wherever my people are.




Favorite Photos of Me

My mom is sure good with the camera.


    I'm growing up!

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Dear Diary: Service Golden Logan Reports her Current News


JUNE 11, 2007
I have my own blog now: A Service Dog's Journey.  So come visit me there so you can keep up on all the latest news in my training and more!

 
FEBRUARY 27, 2007
Look at me! I made it to the cover of my friend Jill's new book. And, don't you think I look pretty? You
can see more photos from my photo shoot at my *media star* page. Just click here!




Top Dog Knits: 12 QuickKnit Fashions for Your 
Big Best Friend (Hardcover)


This book offers a dozen fun and colorful confections to dress today's mid-size and large breed dogs in style. Projects include sweaters, felted jackets, pill-box hats, a neck warmer, and even a stylish dog pillow. There's also a Top-dog measuring guide, Knit-to-fit diagrams and color charts, Learn-to-knit primer, and Quick and simple felting techniques.

Jil Eaton, whose MinnowKnits label is distributed worldwide, is celebrated for knitwear designs that meld classic silhouettes with fashion-forward chic. She is the author of six top-selling books.

 



 
AUGUST 8, 2006
My foster family took Mom and me out on their sailboat. I had such a good time.   

  


 
MARCH 26, 2006
What a fun day I had today with both my families! We went to a local sugarhouse where you can see how they make maple syrup, as part of Maine Maple Sunday. Now this was the real stuff, no Aunt Jemima here!

Boy did they have some funny looking dogs there! Big smelly ones that they called Cows. And these funny fuzzy ones that kept staring at me, I think they called those Sheep. And they even had this really weird little gray guy with hard pointy things growing out of his head, poor thing. I think he was called Goat. I'm just glad I'm a Golden Retriever!

Mom said I did really well. Of course I was a little curious but I did my "sits" and "downs" right in front of those weird looking dogs. They didn't seem too impressed (to tell you the truth they seemed a little, ummm slow.) The Cow ones just kept chewing, the Sheep ones kept staring and the Goat one had the weirdest bark I've ever heard, I think he had something caught in his throat.

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