I started working with a rescue dog named Baxter in October of 2017. He is what we call a Bassador…a Black Lab and Basset Hound mix. At first I thought him a strange looking little thing since he is clearly a Black Lab but then he has these short little legs with front feet that look like they are always in second position for ballet. When I first started working with him he was nonchalant to me and aggressive with most other dogs. He had been picked up on the streets in Nashville, TN and had obviously been bullied. He would fence fight and jump and bark constantly!! We started working together, me learning to train with positive clicker training and him with an attitude. He wouldn’t take the treats offered to him when he looked at me and I was skeptical as to where I thought we were going with all this. As it turned out, Baxter was more interested in working for touch. It almost broke my heart! He would look at me with these liquid brown eyes and truly beseech me to just touch him. So, that’s how we started our relationship… me loving him and crooning to him until he could gain enough trust to listen to me. Bless his heart, he is a really good dog.
After almost three months of making tiny baby steps in training, I thought we would try to see if we could be around other dogs. He was tethered to the wall while I sat beside him touching him and when he went to bark or jump at other dogs I would get him to focus in on me. When he did, he was treated. We would take long walks around the field and sniff and snuffle on a long line but when he pulled on the leash or tried to dart off I would say stay with me and change direction. He was doing particularly well one day, in early July, so we went into the training center to work on some other skills. When we got in, I noticed another dog tethered to the wall who didn’t have the skill set Baxter now had. Baxter worked pretty well with the distraction and barking of the other dog as he began to focus more on me. I wanted to see how he would react to the other dog, so we went closer but out of reach and stood there. Baxter neither jumped nor barked back at the other dog but kept his eyes on me. I clicked and treated him and we walked away. I was so proud of him and told him so and gave him a huge hug.
Our Baxter is currently awaiting a person who needs his services. He is in training as a service dog. Contact CrittersWork for more information about applying for Baxter.
Also, please help us with our Service Dog Confidence Field. The project is enormous and will be so very special for persons needing assistance dogs and the dog handler teams.
I would like to tell you a bit about us. We are a small 501 c 3 nonprofit in Greeneville Tennessee. We are located in the foothills of the Bald Mountain in South Greene County. If you have never been to Tennessee you owe yourself a trip out here. I originally came from New Jersey when my husband and I decided to relocate here we were not disappointed. Everyday we marvel at the beautiful mountains surrounding us.
I was looking for a groomer for three dogs after my original groomer moved back to Florida.
I stopped in at a few of the places that I had passed in my travels, but none groomed Airedale Terriers. To the phone book I went and the first place I found was All Critters Bed & Biscuit. It was fairly close to our home so I called and asked the question about grooming. They did groom Airedales. I was very pleased with their work but soon learned that they would be closing this location and relocating to the parent kennel (All Creatures Country Club), also located in Greene County. This was the start of an adventure that changed my purpose in life. After transitioning my grooming to All Creatures Country Club we were pleased to have found a wonderful and reliable establishment that took excellent care of our animals.
A few years later I attended a series of seminars given at the training center which was part of All Creatures Country Club on the old fashioned ways of life and how we could put them to use in current times I discovered that there were volunteer opportunities at the kennel little did I envision that this opportunity would open many doors to both a wealth of knowledge but to a wonderful friendship with people who felt, cared, and respected animals as much as I.
I soon learned in addition to the kennel Kat ran not one but two nonprofits the first one is GreenePets Foster Network, Incorporated and the second, CrittersWork Service Dog Partners, Incorporated. Now comes my biggest education, our family had done many years of fostering dogs while living in New Jersey while being a busy mom of two girls, with two dogs of her own, we also took in a foster dog. Other parts of rescue never crossed my mind
Kat put me to work with my first task of looking for grants to help fund the organization, something which I had very little experience with. Wow the things I learned. Rescue is not just about taking in dogs but finding monetary ways to sustain the mission. I was even more surprised when I learned that there were not that many dogs in this rescue. When I asked how many dogs could be accommodated in this rescue I was really impressed with the mission of this woman. Yes dogs were rescued by GreenePets but the other part was to leave enough room and resources in the event that any of the other nine small rescues that operate in Greene County and other states had need for kennel space that it was always available. On more than one occasion I have seen this rescue come to the aid of other rescues trying to place a dog in our area and needing an assist with arrangements for transport kenneling and pick up by the adopters. We have on numerous occasions been the halfway point for transports. This is a small rescue and its ability to network with other rescues to make permanent and long-lasting bonds between dogs and families is unlike anything I have ever witnessed. There are many stories to be told but I will leave those for another page.
CrittersWork Service Dog Partner has a mission of helping people with disabilities find a brighter life by having a bonded partner to help them achieve things they could not otherwise achieve on their own. Although CrittersWork was created in 2008 it is still somewhat in its infancy. There have been service dogs trained and successfully paired with their human partners. However in this area there is a lack of knowledge as to need for such highly skilled dogs. Pair that up with the economically depressed area that Greene County is and the challenges are enormous. That did not stop Kat. The local sheriff’s department was in need of canines to start their K-9 division Kat working with a deputy from the Sheriff’s Department located, rescued, housed and assisted in training and socialization of these dogs for the sheriff’s department. The sheriff’s department received dogs which which were made cost-effective to the department by All Creatures Country Club, who absorbed enormous expenses in creating these dogs. The undertaking had a wonderful outcome for several dogs to assist our county officers and the community. Unfortunately due to the lack of a trainer this program has been put on a back-burner hopefully to be looked at somewhere down the road.
Most of the rescued dogs were Belgian Malinois, coming from high kill shelters across the country. While in the process of training these dogs a generous donation of a pair of highly bred Malinois were donated to the program from Kansas. Tom Brown, Vom Fieldcrest Shepherds. A male Belgian Malinois, who is now serving as a K-9 with a small department in Indiana, and a female Dutch Shepherd, who is a service dog to a family court judge in West Virginia. She not only serves her handler, but works with the children in the courtroom.
So up to the present. With the ever-growing number of disabled veterans coming home from the Middle East we’re getting calls from veterans wanting to train their dogs to be a service dog. We started them in a regular training classes, which wasn’t wonderful for their personal issues, so it was time to open up the CrittersWork workbook again and launch a specialized program for Making Our Veterans Priority. Stay Tuned for More!