Bridget Evans and Hero the Service Dog Graduate Together

Service dog wears cap and gown

It was reported in the Huffington Post that a young woman and her service dog caused quite a stir over the weekend when they both showed up to her college graduation ceremony dressed in matching caps and gowns.
 
Bridget Evans Hero GraduatingOn Sunday, this photograph — which shows the graduate at the side of the stage in a wheelchair accompanied by her pooch — went viral after it was posted online by Redditor tcjones54:

“The girl and the dog received the loudest applause hands down. Very adorable,” tcjones54 wrote.

According to posts on Reddit, the photo was taken at the Saturday convocation ceremony of the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. “This picture is everything that is right in the world,” wrote Redditor AndreThreeHundred. Then, a day after the original post went viral, the woman in the photograph uploaded another picture to Reddit.Bridget Evans and Hero“This is my service dog, Hero, after we graduated with our Master’s degrees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,” she wrote in a caption accompanying this Imgur photo.”Hero knows over forty commands to assist me,” she added on Reddit on Monday, adding that the dog had been quite the “celebrity” at the graduation ceremony.
 
“He loves to retrieve objects for my like envelopes, pens, my crutches, etc. He also turns off the lights, opens doors, and he pulls me in my wheelchair up ramps! I couldn’t have gone to college without him.”

‘After WE graduated?!’ Heart melting.
 
Hero and Bridget EvansThis is a great story that once again reminds us of the incredible value of service animals. They are willing to faithfully serve their disabled owner giving them more than just assistance. They give them freedom, comfort, security, and love as well as the ability to achieve their highest potential.
 

 

Linus the Cow – 1500 lbs. of Love

Linus the Cow

Linus the Cow
“This is my favorite photo in the world – me and Linus, born to a dairy cow and ordered to be killed when the farmer saw he was a male (and thus useless in the dairy industry). A compassionate individual intervened, and he was brought to a sanctuary. I met him when he was a few days old and 60 pounds, and he would always try to sit on my lap. Today, 7 years young and 1500 pounds, he still tries to sit on my lap.”

~Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

 

Lion, Tiger & Bear : Unlikely Friends

lion tiger bear

lion tiger bear friendsRescued eight years ago during a police drug raid in Atlanta, Georgia, the three friends were only cubs at the time at barely two months old. They had been kept as status symbol pets by the drug barons. Delivered to the Noah’s Ark Animal Rescue Centre in Locust Grove, Georgia, the decision was made to keep the youngsters together, because of their budding rapport.

Bear Tiger Lion
Bear Lion Tiger

‘We could have separated them, but since they came as a kind of family, the zoo decided to keep them together,’ said Diane Smith, assistant director of Noah’s Ark. To our knowledge, this is the only place lion tiger and bear where you’ll find this combination of animals together.’ Living with the zoo’s founders for the past eight years, Shere Khan, Baloo and Leo have now moved to a purpose-built habitat where the US public can now witness first hand their touching relationships. ‘We didn’t have the money to move them at first,’ said Diane. ‘Now their habitat is sorted and they have been moved away from the children’s zoo to areas where the public can really get a good look.

 
lion tiger and bear living togetherIt is possible to see Baloo, who is a 1000 lb bear, Shere Khan, a 350 lb tiger and Leo, who is also 350 lbs, messing around like brothers. ‘They are totally oblivious to the fact that in any other circumstance they would not be friends.’
 
Handled by Charles and Jama Hedgecoth, the zoo’s owners and founders, the three friendly giants appear to have no comprehension of their animal differences.’Baloo and Shere Khan are very close,’ says Diane.’That is because they rise early, and as Leo is a lion, he likes to spend most of the day sleeping. It is wonderful and magical to see a giant American Black Bear put his arm around a Bengal and then to see the tiger nuzzle up to the bear like a domestic cat.

Bear Lion Tiger
Lion Tiger Bear Friends

When Leo wakes up the three of them mess around for most of the day before they settle down to some food.’ Surprisingly for three apex predators with the lion tiger and bear playing together power to kill with a single bite or swipe of their paw, they are very relaxed around each other. ‘They eat, sleep and play together,’ said Jama. ‘As they treat each other as siblings they will lie on top of each other for heat and simply for affection. At the moment they are getting used to their new habitat. Shere Khan is being quite reticent about the move, but Baloo, the bear, is very good at leading him lion tiger bear friendship on and making him feel comfortable and safe.’ Explaining that the three ‘brothers’ have always seemed to share a unique bond, Charles said: ‘Noah’s Ark is their home and they could not possibly be separated from each other.
 
‘You just have to remember who you’re dealing with when you are with them, lion tiger bear though. It’s when you forget that these fellows are wild animals that you get yourself in trouble.’ The trio’s new habitat had to be constructed carefully, in order to accommodate its occupants. Jama said: ‘The clubhouse had to be very sturdy for the guys, because they all sleep in it together,’She added: ‘We had to include a creek, because the tiger and the bear both like to be in water.’

Lion Tiger Bear Friends
Tiger Lion Bear

 

Baby Lamb Rescued from Drowning in a River

baby lamb rescued

two norwegian guys rescuing a lamb from the riverHow many times have we all made poor choices and ended up in situations that were out of control and disastrous? To be honest, this lamb caught in the turbulence and currents is too reminiscent of a time early in my life when I foolishly thought I really knew what life was all about. Attitudes I held led to decisions that put me in an impossible place, and there seemed to be no way out.

Norwegian Guys Rescuing a Lamb
Two Norwegian Guys Rescue a Lamb

Truth be told, it took something disastrous to make me realize that there is very little in life that I am absolutely in control of, except my free will. Self-importance had me view myself as being invincible, and that distortion made me completely vulnerable. Like that lamb, I needed someone who was bigger than my circumstances, and could save and guide me to safety. That is why this set of pictures has great meaning to me.

Baby Lamb Rescued
Norwegian Guys Rescuing a Sheep

These two Norwegian lads saw this distressed and dying lamb and did what it could not do for itself. They took a risk and rescued it, getting it back on solid ground. When Jesus was criticized for eating and spending time with sinners He told them a story about a lost sheep. He shared how the shepherd would leave the ninety-nine to go find that one that was lost and “when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, two norwegian guys rescuing a lamb from ocean ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:5-7)
 
I was that lost sheep and will never forget the day that the loving hand of God reached into my life securing me, and saving me from my own ignorance and pride. I am yet ever thankful to know that there is a Shepherd who can lead me beside quiet water, and who will guide me to quiet pastures. And if need be, I know He will walk me through the valley of the shadow of death and I will fear no evil because His rod and staff will comfort me. (Psalm 23)

Tommy the Altar Dog in Italy

Tommy the Altar Dog

The Daily Dish on Pawnation had a wonderful story that once again affirms the incredible loyalty that pets have towards their owners.
 
Tommy the Altar DogA paper in Rome reported that since his owner died two months ago, Tommy the dog has not missed a single mass in the small church in southern Italy where his mistress’s funeral was held, Italian media said Wednesday. “When the bells of the Santa Maria Assunta Church begin to toll each afternoon in San Donaci near Brindisi, the 12-year-old German Shepherd sets off from the village to get himself a front row seat next to the altar, the Messaggero newspaper said.
 
His owner, who was known in local dialect as “Maria tu lu campu” — “Maria of the fields” — tommy the dog italy had lived alone with Tommy and three other rescue dogs, who used to follow her faithfully on her daily rounds and have now been adopted by the village.
 
After following his mistress’s coffin up to the church on the day of her funeral,tommy the italian dog Tommy has returned daily, sitting quietly throughout masses, baptisms and funerals, according to local priest Donato Panna, who now wouldn’t do without him.”
 

Tommy Italian Church Dog
German Shepard Attends Mass

 
Who would have thought that a dog would help build the attendance in the local church? In a day when it is hard to get people to come to hear the message of the gospel, Tommy has filled the role of an ambassador for the Lord, his life laid before the altar. The comfort he gave to his owner he now gives to the multitudes that come to see him, and in the process find the peace and comfort of the Lord.

 

Dr. Dolphin

Keppler the Dolphin

As Reported by Betsy Golden on Channel 7 News:
 
Keppler Dolphin CancerWhen Patricia Stoops planned her Carnival cruise vacation, all she was thinking about was hanging out on the beach, tanning and the enjoyment of a dolphin excursion. “I wanted to go on a dolphin cruise,” she said. “The group I was with, no one wanted to go. So I went on the dolphin cruise by myself.” Her getaway cruise turned into a trip she never could have imagined. She and 15 others were in the water with a number of dolphins. But one particular dolphin would not leave Stoops alone. “He kept running into me and I explained to the trainer that the dolphin had hit me. He said, “oh, that’s unusual.” He did a flip in front of me,” Stoops said. “The dolphin trainer said the dolphin detected something wrong with me.”

The trainer shocked Stoops by asking if the Make-A-Wish Foundation was fulfilling her last wish being to swim with the dolphins. She replied, saying she was healthier than ever. “He asked if I’d ever had cancer. I said, no way!” Stoops returned home to Panama City Beach, and a week later got a pain in her chest. She remembered the strange dolphin encounter and went to see her doctor. They found a spot on her lung and she was diagnosed with lung cancer. “Thank God to this little dolphin, Keppler, who lives in the British Virgin Islands. He saved my life.” Stoops is now cancer free and plans on making another trip to visit Keppler the dolphin this fall.
 
Dolphins have been known to detect certain types of cancer and pregnancy in some people. But experts say there is no clinical research to back up those behaviors.”

The History of the St. Bernard

St Bernard

st bernard passAt a little more than 8,000 feet above sea level sits the Great St. Bernard Pass, a 49-mile route in the Western Alps. The pass is only snow free for a couple of months during the summer and has been a treacherous route for many travelers throughout history. In order to help struggling trekkers, an Augustine monk named St. Bernard de Menthon founded a hospice and monastery around the year 1050.
 
st bernard hospiceSometime between 1660 and 1670, the monks at Great St. Bernard Hospice acquired their first St. Bernards—descendants of the mastiff style Asiatic dogs brought over by the Romans—to serve as their watchdogs and companions. (The earliest depiction of the breed was in two paintings done by well-known Italian artist Salvatore Rosa in 1695.) Compared to St. Bernards today, these dogs were smaller in size, had shorter reddish brown and white fur and a longer tail.

Salvator Rosa
Salvatore Painting

At the turn of the century, servants called marroniers were assigned to accompany travelers between the hospice and Bourg-Saint-Pierre, a municipality on the Swiss side. By 1750, marroniers were routinely accompanied by the dogs, whose broad chests helped to clear paths for travelers. The marroniers soon discovered the dogs’ st bernard dog tremendous sense of smell and ability to discover people buried deep in the snow, and sent them out in packs of two or three alone to seek lost or injured travelers.
 

 
Life-Saving Work

The canines made rescue excursions on the St. Bernard Pass for the next 150 years. saint bernard Often the dogs would find buried travelers, dig through the snow and lie on top of the injured to provide warmth. Meanwhile, the other dog would return to the hospice to alert the monks of the stranded pilgrim.
 
The system became so organized that when napoleon at the st. bernard pass Napoleon and his 250,000 soldiers crossed through the pass between 1790 and 1810, not one soldier lost his life. The soldiers’ chronicles tell of how many lives were saved by the dogs in what the army called “the White Death.”
 
Although in legend casks of liquor were strapped around the dogs’ collars to warm up travelers, no historical records exist that document this practice. But another legend Barry St. Bernard was very real: famous St. Bernard, Barry, who lived in the monastery from 1800-1812, saved the lives of more than 40 people. In 1815, Barry’s body was put on exhibit at the Natural History Museum in Berne, Switzerland, where it remains today.
 
Between 1816 and 1818, the winter snowstorms at St. Bernard Pass were particularly severe, and many dogs died in avalanches while doing rescue work. As a result, the St. Bernard breed living at the hospice came close to extinction. However, the breed was replenished two years later with similar animals from nearby valleys.
 

 
All in all, the St. Bernard rescue dogs were credited with saving the lives of more than 2,000 people until the last documented recovery in 1897 when a 12-year-old boy was found nearly frozen in a crevice and awakened by a dog.

From Smithsonian Magazine

Story of Tank the Dog

Tank Dog

Tank the DogThey told me the big black Lab’s name was Reggie, as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly. I’d only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street. But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn’t hurt. Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen Reggie’s advertisement on the local news. The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn’t look like “Lab people,” whatever that meant. They must’ve thought I did. But at first, I thought the Dog Name Tank shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes and a sealed letter from his previous owner.
 
See, Reggie and I didn’t really tank or reggie the dog hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too. Maybe we were too much alike. I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that. “Okay, Reggie,” I said out loud, “let’s see if your previous owner has any advice.”
 
________________________________________________________________________________
 
To Whoever Gets My Dog:
 
story about tank the dogWell, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie’s new owner. I’m not even happy writing it. He knew something was different. So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you. First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he’s part squirrel, the way he tank the doghoards them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn’t done it yet. Doesn’t matter where you throw them, he’ll bound after them, so be careful. Don’t do it by any roads. Next, commands. Reggie knows the obvious ones —”sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel.” He knows hand signals, too: He knows “ball” and “food” and “bone” and “treat” like nobody’s business. Feeding schedule: twice a day, regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car. I don’t know how he knows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he knows. Finally, give him some time. It’s only been Reggie and me a story about tank the dog for his whole life. He’s gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn’t bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially.
 
And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you… His name’s not Reggie. He’s a smart dog, he’ll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn’t bear to give them his real name. But if someone is reading this … well it means that his new owner should know his real name. His real name is “Tank.” Because, that is what I drive. I told the shelter that they couldn’t make “Reggie” available for adoption until they received word from my company commander. You see, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, black lab tank no one I could’ve left Tank with … and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq , that they make one phone call to the shelter … in the “event” … to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption.
 
Luckily, my CO is a dog-guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he’d do it personally. And if you’re reading this, then he made good on his word. Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family. And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family, too, and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me. If I have to give up Tank to keep those terrible people from coming to the US I am glad to have done so.

He is my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades. All right, that’s enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. Maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth. Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight – every night – from me.

Thank you,

Paul Mallory
 
________________________________________________________________________________
 
Paul MalloryI folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure, I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast all summer.
 
a dog named tankI leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog. “Hey, Tank,” I said quietly. The dog’s head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright. “C’mere boy.” He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn’t heard in months. “Tank,” I whispered. His tail swished. I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.
 
tank tennis balls“It’s me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me.” Tank reached up and licked my cheek. “So whatdaya say we play some ball?” His ears perked again. “Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?” Tank tore from my hands and disappeared into the next room. And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth
 
 
“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

Molly the Pony with a Prosthetic Leg

molly the pony

This story validated by Snopes is an encouragement to anyone who has faced overwhelming difficulty. It is the true story of Molly, a horse with a prosthetic leg.
 
molly ponyMolly is a gray speckled pony who was abandoned by her owners when Katrina hit southern Louisiana. She spent weeks on her own before finally being rescued and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were stockpiled. While there, she was attacked by a pit bull terrier, and almost died. Her gnawed right front leg became infected and her vet went to LSU for help. But LSU was overwhelmed, and this pony was considered a welfare case. But after surgeon Rustin Moore met Molly, he changed his mind. He saw how the pony was careful to lie down on different sides so she didn’t seem to get sores, and how she allowed people to handle her. She protected her injured leg. She constantly shifted her weight, and didn’t overload her good leg. She was a smart pony with a serious survival ethic. Moore agreed to remove her leg below the knee and a temporary artificial limb was built. Molly walked out of the clinic and her story really begins here.

Molly the Horse
Molly the Pony

Molly happened to be a one in a million patient. She was tough as nails, but sweet, and she was willing to cope with pain. She made it obvious she understood (that) she was in trouble. Molly’s story turns into a parable of life. The little pony gained weight, her mane felt a comb, and a human prosthesis designer built her a leg. The prosthetic has given Molly a whole new life, Allison Barca DVM, Molly’s regular vet, reports. And she asks for it. She will put her little limb out, and come to you and let you know that she wants you to put it on. Sometimes she wants you to take it off too. And sometimes, Molly equine amputee gets away from Barca. “It can be pretty bad when you can’t catch a three-legged horse,” she laughs. Most important of all, Molly has a new job now. Kay, the rescue owner, started taking Molly to shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers. She took her anywhere she thought that people needed hope. Wherever Molly went, she inspired people. “It is obvious to me that Molly had a bigger role to play in life,” Moore said, “She survived the hurricane, she survived a horrible injury, and now she is giving hope to others.”
 
May Molly’s example be an encouragement to all of us. There always is a bigger plan behind all the downturns in life, a plan that gives us a future and a hope.

Love You To Death – A Valentine Story

Kevin McClain and Dog

Kevin McClain and DogI have often wondered what it meant when someone said that they “loved me to death.” I understood it to mean that they loved me a lot, and it was an expression that implied they would be with me to the end. I never really thought much of it until I read about Kevin McClain, a 57 year-old homeless man from Cedar Rapids. He had lived in his car with his dog Yurtie until the two were separated when McClain became ill from lung cancer and had entered hospice. His dying wish was to see Yurtie one last time and it meant the world to him to see her in his final days.

The Hospice Home Ambulance Service and the animal shelter where Yurtie was staying teamed up to make it happen. Kevin was so weak, but the moment he opened his eyes and saw his dog, there was instant recognition and she began licking his arms and face. Soon after, Kevin died, but he had truly been loved to death by his very faithful friend Yurtie. Though he had very little in earthly possessions, he had a great wealth stored in his heart.

This is the kind of unconditional, unwavering love that every person longs for. It is the type of love spoken of at wedding ceremonies in the words, “till death do us part.” Yes, there is a lot that can be learned from our pets, especially about love.