Molly the Fire Safety Dog Saves Lives with Fun and Education

Molly the Fire Safety Dog Saves Lives with Fun and Education

MOLLY THE FIRE SAFETY DOG
Saving Lives Through Fun and Eduction

Superpower Dogs

May 2017
What’s the first kind of pup that comes to mind when you think of firefighting? Dalmatian, of course! But Molly the Fire Safety Dog doesn’t leave her duties in the firehouse. Molly and her human companion, Dayna, have taken Molly’s skills into schools all across the world, educating kids and parents about the essentials of fire safety.

Molly, a four-year-old Dalmatian, is a patient, playful, and loving Superpower Dog with a host of talents. When she’s not on the job, she’s hard at play! As a Trick Dog Champion, she knows over 82 different tricks, including a knack for music. ​She loves painting, playing Frisbee, hanging out at the fire station, and is a HUGE fan of the TV show, Chicago Fire.

She has her paws crossed that she can be on the show someday!​ Whereas firefighting heroes are saving lives in the heat of rescue operations, Molly is saving lives through prevention.

Molly has Skyped her fire safety program with children from 43 states in the US and 23 countries around the world. As her companion Dayna says, “If you were to get in your car and drive to all the places she has Skyped with, it would be enough virtual miles to go to the moon and back!​”

Molly the Fire Safety Dog
Photograph by Dayna Hilton

Hence Molly’s superpower: Keeping children and families safe through preventative knowledge!

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As Dayna’s best friend and teammate in their crusade for safety, Molly has captured the hearts and attention of kids about a topic that otherwise could slip through the cracks. Dayna has witnessed time and time again how kids engage with Molly, absorbing information and lessons that no human could convey so well alone.

That’s why Molly and Dayna make one super-powered duo!

Molly the Fire Safety Dog in her firefighting glory!
Photograph by Dayna Hilton
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Service Dog Libra Helps Summer Battle Fear With Love and Courage

Service Dog Libra Helps Summer Battle Fear With Love and Courage

SERVICE DOG LIBRA
Support Through Love and Courage
Summer Quickle, Guest Post
April 2017

My name is Summer Quickle. I am fifteen years old and a freshman in high school. I am writing to you to tell you about my Superpower Dog team. Libra is my Superpower Dog.

She is a Golden Retriever service dog as well as a therapy dog. We have been a service dog/handler team for two years. I trained Libra myself with hard work and dedication. I couldn’t ask for a better service dog. We attend Liberty High School together in Clarksburg, WV. She makes it possible for me to get through the school day.

I began training Libra to be a service dog when she was twelve weeks old. If it weren’t for Libra, I wouldn’t have the quality of life that I have today. I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from something that happened to me as a child. Libra is trained in many tasks that mitigate my disability. Libra wakes me up from nightmares, grounds me during panic attacks, and leads me to exits when I’m too overwhelmed.

Libra, Summer Quickle’s Superpower Dog
Photograph by Summer Quickle

We are also in the Junior Humane Society club at my school, and participate in various other activities in my community. 

While Libra provides all of the necessary support for me as a service dog, she also gives back to others.

She is a certified therapy dog through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs organization. Libra has also earned her Canine Good Citizen title through the AKC, and is currently working on earning other titles. We visit many different hospitals, nursing homes, and libraries together. Her favorite place to visit is the West Virginia Veteran’s Nursing Facility. Libra and I enjoy listening to the veterans reminisce about their stories from combat. There is one patient in particular that loves seeing Libra and sharing his stories from World War II with us. 

In addition to her two very important jobs, Libra is also an educator. Libra and I have visited many different elementary schools, educating the children about the importance of not disrupting a working service dog. She demonstrates various tasks and shows the children what being a service dog is all about. Libra also provides a therapy dog demonstration – which she loves.

Libra’s superpowers include: her ability to be an amazing service dog, spreading happiness to others as a therapy dog

For about fifteen minutes, the children get to interact with Libra as a therapy dog. At the end of our presentation, the children understand the difference between her two important jobs, and have learned proper etiquette around service dogs.  When Libra is not working, she enjoys spending time with her adopted sister, Piper, a long-haired German Shepard. Piper is in training to become a therapy dog just like her big sister. She dreams of becoming a Superpower Dog herself someday. Libra loves teaching Piper the ways of a working dog.

Libra and Summer taking their victory stride at homecoming!
Photograph by Summer Quickle

Libra’s Superpower Dog superpowers include: her ability to be an amazing service dog, spreading happiness to others as a therapy dog, educating everyone about her two incredible jobs, and helping other dogs embrace their inner superpowers. 

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Aqua Dog Cori

Aqua Dog Cori

SURF DOG RICOCHET
Aqua Dog Cori
Superpower Dogs, Team Journalist
April 2017

On September 16th, 2016, after careful deliberation with six other newborn pups, Judy had a moment of pure destiny with the seventh: she knew which superpowered bundle of joy she was taking home. That puppy was Encore (or “Cori” for short).

You may have already read the stories of Ricochet the SURFice canine maverick, and Rina, Ricochet’s tender, kind-spirited service dog sister. Both Superpower Dogs were partners in power to Judy, who is the founder of canine non-profit Puppy Prodigies.

After hearing about Judy’s good works, a service dog organization offered Judy the opportunity to have her pick of the litter (five litters, in fact!) after Rina passed away. On September 16th, 2016, after careful deliberation with six other newborn pups, Judy had a moment of pure destiny with the seventh: she knew which superpowered bundle of joy she was taking home.

That puppy was Encore (or “Cori” for short).

Cori, as a Service Dog in Training
Photograph by Surf Dog Ricochet Facebook page

Having lost Rina not long before, Judy was struck by the similarities between the growing Cori and her beloved Rina. Each day Cori grew, Judy saw the same affinities she saw in Rina: a love for packages, shoes, and the remote control. And Cori, like Rina, was demonstrating a loving, kind, and ingenuitive spirit.

Cori has a great sense of humor, and is a playful kleptomaniac. To keep you on your toes, she steals anything and everything. She’s pretty confident, but so far isn’t crazy about swimming, so Judy doesn’t think she’ll be a surfer like her sister Ricochet. Then again, time will tell.

She enjoys barking at and chasing bugs, but her endless appetite for play doesn’t stop at insects. She loves playing with other dogs, and of course, playing with Ricochet, who loves her new superpower sibling. Not a shy dog in the least, Cori wants to be in the center of anything that is happening. She’s also very curious, braving new territories without a moment’s hesitation.

The ability to bring joy to others through play? Check. Robust bravery and a will to explore the unknown? Check.

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According to Judy, Cori has one of the biggest superpowers of them all: the power to demonstrate the continual presence of love in the world, even after loss.

After losing Rina, Judy wasn’t sure if she wanted another dog besides Ricochet for a while. But Cori changed that. With the love that Cori gives to Judy and everyone else around her, she reaffirms the continuous power of love, tenderly renewing hope where it can sometimes be lost.

Cori has already exercised her power on military vets with PTSD, bringing comfort and healing with the playfulness and grace of her confident spirit.

Cori is a Strong, Brave, Kind-Hearted Helper
Photograph by Surf Dog Ricochet & Aqua Dog Cori Facebook Page

Judy doesn’t yet know what role in therapy Cori will be playing in the long term, but she’s loving the process of rearing another strong, brave, and kind-hearted helper. One thing is certain though: there’s no doubt that Cori, like her superpower siblings, is already making the world a better place. By reminding each of us of how the power to love and do good will always endure, Cori is an extraordinary superpower dog on the rise.

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Finding Joy and Independence through Superpower Service Dog, Mork

Finding Joy and Independence through Superpower Service Dog, Mork

CANINE COMPANIONS
Finding Joy And Independence With Mork
Superpower Dogs, Team Journalist
9 December 2016
Wallis Brozman lives with dystonia, an involuntary muscle condition that can suddenly and unexpectedly immobilize her body and permanently impacts her speech.
Despite her condition, Wallis hasn’t let anything stifle her quality of life or independence. She’s found a way to adapt, overcome her adversity, and live each day to the fullest thanks in part to her very own Superpower Dog, Mork.
Mork is Wallis’ 2-year old yellow lab and trained assistance dog, and in contrast to most humans, he thrives when dealing with change. As Wallis’ partner, Mork uses his superpowers of intelligence and intuition to anticipate and respond to any need she might have. Where others may react to uncertainty in fight-or-flight mode, Mork uses his superpowers to remain calm and levelheaded no matter what.
Mork, Wallis’ Superpower Dog
Photograph by Wallis Brozman
While recently on a walk together Wallis hit uneven concrete and was thrown from her wheelchair, leaving her wheelchair in the road and unable to move or call for help. Even though Mork had never trained for this exact scenario, he used his problem-solving superpower to rise to the life-saving occasion! By keying on Wallis’ American Sign Language commands, he quickly retrieved her fallen phone, laid by her side and barked on command until help arrived.

Even before this scary and heroic moment, Wallis knew she’d be able to count on Mork.

From his early days at Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit that enhances lives of people with disabilities by providing highly-trained assistance dogs, it was evident that he was a selfless and eager learner. When they were paired together in 2016 after his completion of nearly 9 months of highly rigorous training at Canine Companions, Mork was already an elite assistance dog able execute over 40 spoken commands. However, because Wallis’ condition can cause sudden loss of movement and has diminished her speech, upon graduation, Mork had to immediately start learning how to communicate non-verbally using American Sign Language.
Morks opens the door for Wallis
Photograph by Wallis Brozman
Now, this special duo uses each sign and command as an opportunity to not only learn about each other, but also learn how to be resilient problem solvers in the face of unexpected challenge. Their latest innovation is a special rope technique for Mork to assist Wallis by tugging her wheelchair up narrow inclines and over the same kinds of bumps that previously caused Wallis to fall!
While it’s obvious that Mork’s innate intelligence and commitment to Wallis enables her to live a fully independent life despite her dystonia, the daily laughter and joys of companionship are equally invaluable parts of their special bond.
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Rina: Changing Lives Through Humor & Support

Rina: Changing Lives Through Humor & Support

SURFDOG RICOCHET
Rina: A Superpower Dog Changing Lives Through Humor & Support
Superpower Dogs, Team Journalist
16 November 2016
Just as Ricochet now helps the lives of many, she was impacted early on by her friend Rina, a fellow Superpower Dog behind the scenes that inspired her purpose of helping people.

Surfdog Ricochet is a Superpower Dog who surfs. As if winning surfing contests isn’t impressive enough, Ricochet’s real mission in life is her work as the world’s only SURFice® dog. She combines a love of surfing with healing superpowers to help human friends in need, with paws-on contact and bonding through the incredible experience of riding waves together. Kids with special needs, people with disabilities, and wounded veterans are some of the many people whose lives have been touched and changed by Ricochet. Ricochet will star in the giant screen adventure film, Superpower Dogs. 

Just as Ricochet now helps the lives of many, she was impacted early on by her friend Rina, a fellow Superpower Dog behind the scenes that inspired her purpose of helping people. Rina was more than just an influential role model for Ricochet, she also had amazing abilities to care for and connect with people. Not only did Rina have an essential ‘paw’ in laying the path for Ricochet, but her superpowers also changed life’s course for her human trainer and companion, Judy.

Rina, Judy’s inspiration behind, Ricochet
Photograph by Surf Dog Ricochet’s Facebook Page

As a puppy raiser, Judy first met Rina when Rina was just 8 weeks old and beginning her training to become a service dog with Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs. For over a year, Judy worked with Rina on puppy training and socialization skills. When Rina went away to begin her intensive training service dog program, Judy was so inspired by their bond that she decided to go back to school to train service dogs. In a serendipitous turn, Rina was released from the highly selective program and was thus reunited with Judy as her new owner, trainer and personal service dog. The pair then began working with Pawsative Teams, a training organization that awarded Rina her therapy dog certification, and kicked off what would become an amazing 13-year journey of healing, helping people in need, and assisting Judy with her medical needs.

Not only did Rina have an essential ‘paw’ in laying the path for Ricochet, but her superpowers also changed life’s course for her human trainer and companion, Judy.

Over that period, Rina and Judy were an inseparable team that brought love and emotional support to those who needed it most. One Superpower story of Rina was a time when Ricochet was practicing surfing, and her wave died and stalled the surfboard. Rina thought Ricochet was in distress and braved the waves, which she never liked to do, to swim out and save her sister. Then, Ricochet jumped from her surfboard to swim to Rina and they ended up saving each other..

Rina and Ricochet
Photograph by Surf Dog Ricochet Facebook Page
Rina’s superpower of connecting with people as a healer made her an immediate friend to anyone she met, a devoted sister to Ricochet and a lifelong companion for Judy. Rina was known for her light-hearted personality and smile, taking every opportunity to steal the remote, wear shoes and deliver packages from UPS drivers to Judy’s front door. So whether people or dogs, we all need those special individuals in our lives that help inspire us along the way, perhaps even help us discover our own superpowers.
In loving memory of Rina. 
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Paws On The Peak: A Superpower Dog Story

Paws On The Peak: A Superpower Dog Story

TEAM FARSIGHT FOUNDATION

Paws on the Peak: A Superpower Dog Story

Superpower Dogs
9 December 2016

On the trail with the world’s only professional blind hiker, Trevor Thomas, and guide-dog Tennille.

Mountain peaks loom large in our collective psyche as daunting challenges of the human spirit. Those who climb to such summits breathe rare air, and rightfully earn their reputation as some of the hardiest among us. Enduring violent weather, extreme terrain, and physical isolation make these climbs harrowing feats for any who attempt them — yet there are some ascents that stand out among the most remarkable.
This past season while deep in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Trevor Thomas and his Superpower Dog Tennille topped out above the clouds on Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s tallest peak at 14,400 ft., notching the first-ever solo ascent of the mountain by a blind person and guide dog. However this summit wasn’t the only milestone of the venture, just a fitting end to what was a tremendous 2015 for these rugged companions.
Trevor Thomas, known on the trail as “Zero/Zero,” a moniker coined for his vision (or lack thereof), is the world’s only blind professional long distance hiker. He and his expedition partner Tennille, a sturdy and affable 5 year-old black lab, have been a team since 2012, when he received her from Guide Dogs for the Blind, a service dog training organization. As a specially trained guide dog, Tennille has enabled Trevor to safely travel solo and unsupported across thousands of miles of backcountry trails. On their way to summiting Mt. Elbert this past summer, Trevor and Tennille completed the first solo, self-navigated thru hike of the Colorado Trail by a blind person and guide dog, a 500-mile trek through some of the most technical and remote terrain in the Rocky Mountain range.

Tennille and Trevor Have Hiked Thousands of Miles Together

Photograph by Trevor Thomas

It goes without saying that these two thrive on the challenge, which explains why each successive trip they undertake heightens in ambition and difficulty. The Colorado Trail expedition of 2015 was just the latest in a growing list of first ascents and record-setting solo treks, part of a passionate quest that was first ignited in 2008 when Trevor gained notoriety by becoming the first blind person to complete a solo, unassisted thru hike of the 2,175 mile Appalachian Trail. As word has spread about this plucky duo, their achievements have inspired many to aim skyward and break their own barriers of what’s possible.
Yes these two are exceptional, but there is no magic formula for such great accomplishments. What really is inspiring about Trevor and Tennille is their process, a passionate and driven mindset to achieve greatness one step at a time. This type of mastery over mind and body doesn’t happen by chance, nor is it something inherently gifted to a lucky few. In fact, in Trevor’s case, it all started in 2005, when he suddenly and unexpectedly went blind.
A recent law school grad, Trevor was springboarding into a career with the JAG Corps when a rarely diagnosed eye condition turned his world upside down. Life seemed to close off overnight, as even simple tasks became a struggle. Just when things seemed to be at their bleakest, a fate encounter with fellow blind adventurer, Erik Weihenmayer, led to a cathartic breakthrough.
The initial loss of his eyesight had left Trevor stuck in fixed mindset, believing that his vision had enabled him to do certain things, and without it they were no longer attainable. However, the subtle but ground-shaking shift in outlook that was triggered by Erik’s example led Trevor to reframe his entire approach. Starting by relearning how to navigate his environment, short walks around his neighborhood eventually led to hiking trails as he gradually pushed his comfort zone a little further each day.
With a new sense of confidence to confront the unknown, he made the crucial shift into a growth mindset; realizing his opportunity to explore the world was no longer a matter of ability but a matter of intentional practice.

Tennille is a dual-mode dog, meaning she has mastered both specialized guiding skills and backcountry navigation skills.

Each trek offers the chance to learn, to set a new goal, then surpass it. More miles on trail have brought more encounters with potential hazards, honing Trevor’s senses and expanding his physical, mental and emotional limits. Life on the sharp end means seeking out an ever-changing set of challenges that demand an equally evolving set of skills, which is why Trevor’s astounding journey to becoming a world-class, record-setting blind hiker tells only half the story. At the completion of every expedition, Trevor insists on sharing his accolades with his four-legged partner, Tennille.

Aside from being a naturally selfless companion, Tennille is a dual-mode dog, meaning she has mastered both specialized guiding skills and backcountry navigation skills. Such a combination is so rare that Guide Dogs for the Blind was the only organization willing to help pair Trevor with such an extraordinary animal, a process that would take over three years of intensive training. Over the course of this time together, Tennille has become as fit and gritty as her human companion with daily training hikes up to 15 miles. But even more vital to her role on the trail is her incredibly keen environmental awareness. Similar to Trevor’s process, each time out on the trail presents her with new obstacles, so while Trevor manages the big picture, Tennille’s prowess is in the details.

 

Though her highly developed senses are innate, the bond of their relationship has helped her develop a superpower of intuition. Over the course of hiking nearly 6,000 miles together, Tennille has learned to anticipate Trevor’s needs and make situational judgment calls on how to best keep them safe, a trait that has earned her the fitting nickname, “Genius.” A low-hanging tree limb, a treacherous cliff, a wildlife encounter, or a break in the path…in every situation she sends subtle signals so Trevor can gain a full picture of their surroundings.
Every bend in the trail is a new experience together that teaches them to be more adaptive and resilient.
Ultimately with each trek completed, Trevor and Tennille’s reward is the positive impact they have on young people, inspiring them to find their passion and overcome challenges.
The publicity generated from of their expeditions goes directly to supporting Trevor’s foundation, Team FarSight Foundation, which is devoted to empowering blind and visually impaired young adults through outdoor adventure programs. While we will undoubtedly continue to be inspired by such amazing achievements, perhaps there is also a lesson to be learned from their approach.

Team FarSight Foundation is devoted to empowering blind and visually impaired young adults through outdoor adventure programs.

Photograph by Trevor Thomas

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