CJ, The Golden Retriever Service Dog, Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
CJ, the Golden Retriever Service Dog, will be receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the First Town 4-H Veterinary Science Club on August 21, 2018 at 7:00 pm at Northwest Park in Windsor, CT at the Pavilion for his outstanding contributions to humans everywhere for over 11 years.
CJ was rescued as a 10-week-old puppy. His original owner purchased him from a Puppy Store as a present for his wife. He was unwanted and kept in a laundry room away from all human contact except for meals. He was never house broken nor socialized. He was surrendered to me.
The 4-H Veterinary Science Club and I decided to keep him as one of our 4-H Service Dog Training Candidates. His foster family, the Normans from Windsor, CT, loved him with all their hearts. Michelle Norman worked at VCA Animal Hospital in Vernon, CT for Dr. Don Aronson. He was lucky enough to play with Dr. Aronson’s Lab named Rex and meet all kinds of kind people and other animals.
While learning the task of opening drawers and doors, he put smiles on faces of the Animal Hospital’s clients at checkout when he would open the cash drawer each and every time. I quickly realized he was a smart, eager puppy and set immediately to training. His high energy, although to most a deterrent, was a delight to me. He learned many tasks from observing all the other Service Dogs in training.
The First Town 4-H Veterinary Science Club embraced CJ as their own. After learning his basic home manners and obedience, he came to live permanently back at my farm with all the other rescue and training dogs. The 4-H Club came every few weeks to the farm to learn about Animal Behavior and participate in Service Dog Training and Certification.
At age two, CJ graduated and earned his certification. He found his niche in hospitals helping patients with TBI, some with violent outbursts, and with much of their rehab. Such a forgiving and Golden Hearted Dog is very rare. Because of his work with the 4-H Club members, he loved children. CJ became a facilitator dog helping children of domestic, sexual and physical abuse. They loved him, and he loved them. All counted, he helped over 378 humans. CJ’s health began to deteriorate due to hip dysplasia, arthritis, immune system disorder, Pancreatitis, multiple surgeries, biopsies and the Canine form of ALS, just to mention a few.
Thanks to Drs. Bill Pomper, Brad Pikas, Lynne Zelinsky and the tremendous staff at Bolton Veterinary Hospital as well as myself at home, CJ has a quality of life beyond compare but could no longer work. He stopped eating and drinking water. Everyone feared the worst, but all diagnostic tests came back normal…or least CJ Normal. It was then I realized CJ was in deep depression because he could no longer help humans which was his life.
The story does not end here. I came up with a plan so that CJ now goes back to work visiting and helping Hospice Patients at home, all the while being on Hospice himself. That alone in itself is an amazing story.
He is so happy to help people again. To our surprise and delight he surpassed my expectations at a Service Dog Demonstration at Fidelco in June, bringing smiles and excitement to the entire audience. His life expectancy is in jeopardy, but the rescue Golden Retriever, named CJ has a tenacious, loving heart and continues to amaze and inspire us all.