November 2018 Graduation: Excerpts from Caroline's Speech

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To every puppy raiser, ever, the selfless act of raising a puppy for another person is one of pure and innocent kindness. Lyons’ raisers are here today. And we thank you; you represent all raisers. Your hands, your voice, your love, your grit, your determination, your tears and your laughter are now captured forever in the heart of the dog you so lovingly raised.  Thank you.

To all of our supporters, BluePath would still be in the infant stage without you. You are a critical and radiant component to our journey forward. Thank you for taking that leap of faith with us, so quickly and so confidently, that we find ourselves, less than two years old, graduating our first class. Your words of encouragement have been especially important. They are the fuel to our fire as we forge forward entering realms we have never tackled before. Thank you. 

Board members, you continue to push us and never let us limit ourselves. When we reach the stars, you will be there to tell us to go higher. Thank you.

Guide Dog Foundation, you called to say you have an adult dog whose temperament might be a better fit for our work than for theirs. Two weeks later, Sonny joined our path. A month later, you call again, and another adult dog, the beautiful Lyons, joins us as well. Thank you for valuing our mission and choosing to partner with us.

To our fosters. In the last year, 10 families have taken on the role of fostering dogs in their homes. The Trick family is here today, and they are fostering their second BluePath dog. You represent our local community that has stepped up in an incredible way. Thank you. 

To the families who have received these beautiful dogs. The road isn’t going to be easy, but then again, it never was. Sonny and Lyons have a big role in helping you move forward. Part of their job is easy - to bring more laughter. To bring your family together. Create joy. But the other part of the job is much more difficult. To provide safety so that your children may be better equipped to take more steps out in the world. To help your kids feel included in the world around them so that your family can better enjoy a soccer game, a restaurant, or a long, leisurely hike. Sonny and Lyons are ready.  Sonny and Lyons will step in, and they will say, “hey, we got this.”  And in time, you will realize that they do.

To Haedyn and Zayna, you are two young kids who do not understand how unsafe you can be. Sonny and Lyons are here for you. They will dig deep and level the playing field for you. Together, with your dogs, the world will become safer and with safety comes opportunity, independence, and friendship. The dogs will share your anxiety, your fears, and probably some of your chicken nuggets. But they won’t leave you and they won’t judge you.

Families, we are with you today. We are with you tomorrow. We are with you in the days and weeks and years ahead. When you signed on for a BluePath dog, you don’t just leave here with a dog, your family just got infinitely bigger and infinitely stronger and your hardships and your accomplishments will be shared by so many more shoulders.

Today is a historic occasion and I am overwhelmingly honored to be here. BluePath has no limits - of that I am sure.

Thank you. 

Celebrating our first service dog teams!

We recently celebrated the graduation of our first service dog teams! 

BluePath dogs Lyons and Sonny will make an exponential impact in their new homes. They will help children and their parents, support siblings and friends, and strengthen families’ connections with their communities. 

The Azar Family

“Our daughter Zayna is 13 years old and highly impacted by autism. She’s nonverbal and a runner; it has been at least four years since my wife has been able to take her to the store. Zayna also likes to be by herself, preferring to spend time in her room alone than with her sisters. We think Lyons will be a grounding presence; he will keep Zayna safe and be her companion. With Lyons, we’ll be able to do things as a family again.” - Chris Azar

The Cavanagh Family

“Haedyn loves to go out into the community. He’s the happiest loving little boy. But sometimes it’s just too hard. There will be times we’ll be at the supermarket and he sees something shiny and runs; it’s obviously not safe. That’s where Sonny will come in. With Sonny, we’ll gain some independence.” - Jennifer Cavanagh

 Lyons

Lyons

 Sonny

Sonny

Safety, companionship and opportunities for independence… Lyons and Sonny will provide those precious gifts for their new families, and much, much more. 

To everyone who believes in BluePath’s mission and has joined us on the path – thank you. We are infinitely grateful for your support.

Holiday Shopping at BluePath

Support BluePath throughout the holiday season!

Our Online Store: Branded merch - clothing, water bottles, mugs and more! Shop BluePath.

Amazon Smile: You shop, Amazon gives! Visit smile.amazon.com, choose BluePath as your charity of choice, and Amazon will donate .5% of every purchase to BluePath.

Auburn Jewelry: Purchase “B spot” monogram necklaces, keychains, cuff links and rings. Choose from 18 different colors in either sterling silver or 14k gold. A portion of proceeds from the sales of all BluePath pendants will support our mission. Shop the Auburn collection here.

Thank you!

 Photo: Dana Van Bourgondien

Photo: Dana Van Bourgondien

BluePath receives $10,000 grant from Carvel Foundation

BluePath Service Dogs is the proud recipient of a $10,000 grant from The Thomas and Agnes Carvel Foundation.

In 1936, the late Thomas Carvel founded the soft serve ice cream brand, Carvel. Fueling a desire to make a positive difference in the world, Thomas and his wife, Agnes, created the Foundation in 1976. The Foundation devotes its resources to a variety of projects and programs, including ones that benefit children and individuals with disabilities.

This grant will help us continue to train autism service dogs, offering safety, companionship and opportunities for independence. We are truly grateful for the Foundation’s continued support of our work.

 BluePath Cruze  Photo Credit: Melissa J Davis Photography

BluePath Cruze

Photo Credit: Melissa J Davis Photography

And the ring-bearer is.... BluePath Mikey!

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If you could read a puppy raiser’s mind, you’d likely hear “note-to-self; this needs work” or NTS/NW. Mikey is at a stage where that thought runs through my mind quite frequently. He knows the verbal and hand cues for all of his commands. Unique challenges out in the real world are a chance to test his skills. So when my niece informed me that she wanted Mikey to be the ring-bearer at her wedding I eagerly agreed. What a puppy raiser’s dream! He would be 8 months old by the time of her wedding with the manners and maturity needed to rise to the occasion. As the wedding drew nearer her grandmother laughed at the idea that this energetic, goof-ball would successfully get the rings where they needed to go. (NTS/NW, prove Nana wrong.)

By the end of the Friday night dress rehearsal, NTS/NW flooded my head. Mikey loves meeting people and was beside himself having to ignore the bridal party. How was I going to get him down the aisle once all those chairs were filled? We learned where we were to stand and got a sense of how long the ceremony would be. We also learned that the lawn of a vineyard in New York’s Finger Lakes Region is bug land. Gnats formed a gray cloud around Mikey,  causing him to squirm beside me. Investigating the little buggers, he began licking down there. No, no, no. (NTS/NW, he needs to ignore the bugs.) We’d line-up at 5:30pm. The ceremony, dinner and dancing would add up to 4-5 hours that this puppy would have to manage his impulses and demonstrate the superb training BluePath Service Dogs are known for. (NTS/NW, make this fun for him.)

We arrived on Saturday ahead of time and gave Mikey a chance to just be a dog. We played fetch, tugged with a brand new toy, went for a walk where he sniffed to hearts content and said hello to dozens of visiting tourists. I waited until the very last minute to get him dressed and lined up for the procession. Walking down the aisle he was focused and relaxed. My gratitude and adoration for my 4-legged teammate pulsated down the leash with every ‘aw, how cute!’ from the wedding guests. The ceremony began with champagne toasts from the maid of honor and best man. Mikey’s ‘champagne’ was a chew toy stuffed with treats attached to a rope. Holding my champagne glass in one hand and hanging onto his toy with the other to prevent it from rolling out of his reach, he quietly paid no mind to the bugs.

 From left to right: Anne, Abby, Phil and of course, Mikey.

From left to right: Anne, Abby, Phil and of course, Mikey.

Pictures followed, then inside for the reception. Mikey’s stamina was waning. He had a difficult time settling under the table. (NTS/NW, his endurance will get better as he gets older.) He was happy to jump into his crate in the car for a break during dinner. When the dancing started I brought him back in for his next training challenge. With dinner over it had become a different scene. He was completely at ease with the frenetic energy as we entered the room, but something else grabbed his attention. Popcorn and cake crumbs littered the floor. (NTS/NW, must practice dropping tidbits on the floor at home.) We moved beyond the food remnants and were swarmed as soon as we reached the dance floor. No worries, this is where Mikey excels. He looked at me for an ok to say hi and squirmed with joy as he greeted everyone.

I handed his leash to the bride, then the best man, then one guest after another. Each of them took him across the room to a new cluster of partyers where they in-turn were swarmed and Mikey was amazing. What they saw was a super cute, well-mannered puppy they could play with in the middle of a wedding reception. What I saw was a puppy in training practicing his future job of drawing people to the person on the other end of his leash.

When I made my rounds to say goodnight, Nana was pretty impressed with how well Mikey had done. (NTS/TY, remember to thank the bride for giving Mikey this excellent chance to further his training.) “Seeing is believing.” I said, “He’s on the right path.”

Busy Izzy (and indeed she is Busy!)

By: Jeannie Fleming-Gifford, Volunteer Puppy Raiser

 Jeannie and her daughter, Ella, cuddle with Izzy by the waters edge.

Jeannie and her daughter, Ella, cuddle with Izzy by the waters edge.

I knew what I was getting into. Yes, I have been down this road before. For the last 15 years, my family has welcomed puppies into our home. Oh yes, they are cute, but...

Izzy arrived in January 2018.  An 8-week-old puppy and winter in Ohio. Did I mention 8-week-old puppy? A glorious time to housetrain a pup (insert my eyes rolling here). Izzy sure did keep us busy. Inside. Outside. Repeat. And then she would sleep. And play. And cuddle. Then in and out again with the puppy in that cold wintry weather.

As the seasons changed, Izzy grew quickly. Three, then four months old and spring arrived. Basic commands...sit, down, stay...Walks became longer, and outings expanded from our house and into the community.

Izzy was welcomed into the long-term care facility where my mom resides. People who no longer were growing, but instead whose health was failing, lit up with the chance to visit with her. Izzy, an exuberant puppy, was pleased to partake in these visits and quickly learned that she would be rewarded with kibble for her good choices.

As summer approached, Izzy discovered her love of water...from her own baby pool in our backyard to the local river she loved to wade in. If there was water, there was Izzy wanting to be in it. And, of course, with water, came many baths.

Izzy has grown. Physically, she now weighs close to 55 pounds. And, of course, she has grown in skill. She happily demonstrates her skill sets of sit, down, stay, over, and even “paw” which provides an amusing greeting to newcomers.

Explorations in our community have now grown into more regional ones. With her vest on, Izzy happily – and mostly – engages in outings to the store or even a quick-service restaurant.

Our days as a family are busy and Izzy now has the skills and temperament for most adventures.

Izzy has become my personal fitness trainer. 5am weekday walks and 6am on the weekends. She is energetic and focused as we navigate our way through the darkness, often met by skunks and deer and an occasional person. Even if I am not motivated to trudge out in the dark, Izzy is, and somehow, she persuades me to lace up those shoes day in and day out.

She has become accustomed to our family’s routines of making lunches and a treat for her that she receives after a mid-day crate and play break. She waits and watches patiently as we go through these daily routines.

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And as she ages, I know our seasons will change again soon. In November she turns a year. She is settling down (a bit) and showing her readiness to learn even more. As I have done so many times before with other pups, I will eventually see her off to her new season, her new opportunities and for the purpose which she was born to pursue - that of a working service dog for a child with autism.

And my days? I anticipate – like the seasons noted above – will continue to change too. One thing for sure, I will miss being busy with this pup named Izzy.

BluePath receives $5,000 grant from the Laura J. Niles Foundation

The Laura J. Niles Foundation encourages and supports efforts to improve the lives of both people and animals. During her lifetime, Laura Niles possessed a great appreciation for the gift of companionship. Whether it was through the ever-present company of her French poodles or by a visit from an old friend, Ms. Niles always relished the time she spent with others. It was through this appreciation that Ms. Niles developed a special concern for those afflicted with isolation.

BluePath is the proud recipient of a $5,000 grant from the Foundation to support of our Formal Training Program. We are incredibly grateful for their support.

 BluePath Roxy, Photo Credit: Melissa Davis Photography

BluePath Roxy, Photo Credit: Melissa Davis Photography

New York Rangers Pup On a Path - Exercise Plan

GOAL: For Ranger to reliably perform his skills so that he is ready for hockey season and to be an autism service dog in the future. 

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WARM UP:

(Exercises, Purpose, Notes)

  • Dress, Body Handling, Ranger puts his head through his puppy jacket (jersey) when he hears “get dressed.” A pup can’t exercise without his clothes on!

  • Name, You talkin’ to me??, Ranger responds when he hears his name so he’s ready to focus. This good boy also responds to “Meatball.”

STRENGTH TRAINING

  • Puck Drop, Ceremonial, Ranger places whatever is in his mouth (a puck, probably a puck…) onto the floor when he hears “Drop.”

  • Recalls, Body ComPAWsition, Ranger runs swiftly to his puppy raiser when he hears “Here.”

  • Push-Pups, Pupper Body Strength, Ranger does “Sit” and Down” four times in a row. It’s hard to jump into a sitting position, but Ranger has a pep in his step.

  • Box jumps, Coordination, Ranger jumps on and off a raised object when he hears “hup” and “off.” Hard for a pupper with short legs, but our little meatball does a great job.  

  This isn’t exactly “close…” but it’s pretty adorable. :)  Photo via NYRangers/MSG.

This isn’t exactly “close…” but it’s pretty adorable. :) Photo via NYRangers/MSG.

COOL DOWN

  • High five, Favorite Skill, Ranger “high-fives” his handler with his paw for a job well done!

  • Close, Snugs, Ranger sits in between his handler’s legs when he hears “close.” Every puppy workout should end with a good cuddle session.

Working out can be ruff, but practicing skills gives Ranger a new leash on life. He takes it all the way bark to the BEGginning and refreshes the basics like name response, but also pups the ante with patterned retrievals and jumps. Anything is pawssible when you STAY focused and work hard! 

LET’S GO RANGER(S)!

BluePath receives $4,000 donation from H.O.P.E. For Youth Foundation

H.O.P.E. For Youth Foundation is dedicated to facilitating positive change in the lives of children, adolescents and families. The organization provides stable, nurturing, residential care, foster care, preventive and out-patient programs which educate, motivate and empower individuals to become self-sufficient and achieve their full potential.

BluePath is the proud recipient of a $4,000 grant from the H.O.P.E. For Youth Foundation. These funds will help support our Formal Training Program.

We are extremely grateful for the Foundation's continued support of our mission. 

 BluePath Chelsea

BluePath Chelsea

Humans of BluePath: Namali, Foster

 Namali and Shiloh

Namali and Shiloh

How It All Began: In researching the role of a foster, I realized that it’s an opportunity to be actively engaged in the good work BluePath does in enabling families in need to receive a service dog.

Favorite Part of Being a Foster: Although the outcome is unknown at the beginning of the process, I find it very rewarding to assist in preparing a dog for placement in the hope that this dog can eventually help a family in need.

Advice for Prospective Fosters: If you love dogs and want them in your life without the commitment that comes with “owning” a dog, this is a great opportunity. You are able to participate in BluePath’s mission and help an extremely valuable program. Even if you already have other dogs at home, you can help your community tremendously by being a part of this amazing organization.

Fast Facts:

About Namali:

  • Favorite Movie: Cold Mountain  
  • Favorite Book: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet
  • Favorite Quote: “Live simply so others can simply live” – Mahatma Gandhi  

About Shiloh:

  • Favorite Activity: Going on walks at any time of day and in any weather, with wide eyes, a bobbing head, and a tireless trot :)  
  • Prime Petting Location: Her belly
  • Three Words to Describe Her: Small yet mighty (cute and little in size, but will let you know what she wants and when she wants it!)
 Shiloh

Shiloh