Did you know that Michigan dogs are making the news?
Wyatt Earp, an Airedale mix adopted from the Detroit Zoo event five years ago, paid his owner back this year. Owner Don Callahan, 72 of Royal Oak was taking Wyatt for an evening walk Jan. 23 when he collapsed. Callahan is a diabetic and his blood sugar dropped too low. But Wyatt stayed close by Callahan and barked until someone finally called the police. Police and paramedics arrived in time and transported Callahan to the hospital.
“All I remember is that Wyatt and I were on our way home,” Callahan said. “Someone told me police found me after getting a complaint about a barking dog. The first thing I thought was Wyatt didn’t take off. He’s so loyal. He stayed with me.” Callahan is recuperating at home with Wyatt by his side.
Michigan therapy dogs have some unique jobs
In other Michigan dog news, Amos, a two-year old black Lab mix is going to court – not because he’s broken the law – he’s Michigan’s first official court therapy dog for the Novi District Court. Judge Brian MacKenzie is helping to sponsor Amos as part of the new Canine Advocacy Program, or CAP. He has offered his courtroom for some of the first cases. Amos’ job is to relax people, especially children who are witnesses in abuse cases, when they have to attend court.
Although he’s the first in Michigan, the idea of having trained therapy dogs in court is not new. Courthousedogs.com is a program that began in 2008 in Seattle, WA. The idea is that the fully trained dogs can give emotional support, calm upset folks in court and even help court workers deal with the stresses involved in dealing with upset, angry people. In addition to Seattle and now Michigan, there are now courthouse dogs working in Texas, Georgia, Montana, Florida and Maryland. Amos was trained by Leader Dogs for the Blind and donated to the court program.
In addition to Amos, there are other dogs in Michigan using their calming skills to help people through difficult times. The Michigan Memorial Funeral Home in Flat Rock has Zoey, a four-year old Golden Retreiver who offers support for grieving families at their request. Zoey is also a trained therapy dog and helps mourners. As Lisa Dwyer, Zoey's handler and wife of the funeral home owner says, “More people are apt to talk with someone with a dog than a funeral director. She is very helpful, particularly with children because they can relate.”
And at St John Brighton Hospital in Brighton therapy dogs are used to help calm agitated addicts and teach coping skills. And many schools, including Eagle Crest Charter Academy in Holland Township, use therapy dogs to help children improve reading skills by having the children read to the dogs. Extensive research has shown that petting a dog can reduce blood pressure and calm people down.
And finally, Valentine's Day goes furry!
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, a joint global poll by Reuters/Ipsos shows that of 24,000 people surveyed in 23 countries, 21 percent (or one-fifth) of adults would rather spend February 14th with their pet than their spouse. 25 percent of people aged under 35 opted for their pet over their partner compared to 18 percent of those aged 35-54 and 14 percent of people aged 55 plus. Men and women were evenly split over the question. So don’t forget your best friend this Sunday!