2009 NJVMA Animal Hall of Fame Inductees
Jethro is a four-year-old Great Dane who, at 130 pounds, is teasingly described as “small” by his owner, Kathy Wyder of Oakland. But as big as he is, Jethro’s heart is even larger. The Wyders rescued him, ill and underfed, from a pet store and spent months nursing him back to health. As Jethro grew, his love of people grew with him and thus began his career as a therapy dog. His visits to the Oakland Care Center, where the staff calls him “a therapeutic wonder,” quickly became a highlight for the Center’s elderly residents. Jethro’s special skill is not just to offer love to ill and lonely people, but also to gladly accept their love in return. Knowing and loving his role as the only bright spot in the lives of so many, he relishes with delight the visits and attention he receives from even normally unresponsive patients. He loves them and they love him right back. Jethro was nominated by Dr. Joanne Healey of Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital.
Bradley’s life didn’t start out well. The last of his litter, he was labeled a “problem dog” by the shelter where he lived, and Tamara A. Howard, of Neptune, was warned against adopting him. But “a feeling so strong” had gripped her, and soon the six-week-old Rottweiler-Doberman Pinscher mix was not only the newest addition to her household, but rapidly became her closest companion. Bradley’s loyalty over the years carried Tamara through many difficult times. But the hardest time of all came when she lay in bed at home recovering slowly from critical complications from knee surgery. Struggling to the bathroom her incision began to bleed profusely, causing her to lose consciousness on the bedroom floor. Bradley prodded her back to wakefulness and then, inexplicably, managed to bring the phone to her side, enabling her to call for help. Bradley will be 15 in March and, in Tamara’s words, “although they have been fifteen years filled with amazing highs and devastating lows, there is no one I would want by my side both then and now but my faithful, loving, very best friend Bradley. A one in a million dog.” Dr. Gene Wefer of Oakhurst Veterinary hospital and veterinary technician Lori Kelly nominated Bradley.
Daisy and Dunkin Donut
From a distance, being a therapy horse looks like a fairly easy job. You walk around a ring all day with, usually, a little person on your back, and then it’s back out to the field. In fact, according to the staff at Somerset Hills Handicapped Riding Center in Oldwick, from the horse’s point of view it can be a very stressful job. Most animals last only three years or so before they burn out. Two exceptions to that rule are Dunkin Donut and Daisy, both of whom have been at it for years and show no sign of losing their love of helping the riders who benefit from their versatility, reliability and kindness. Both are “pensioners,” who could be expected to be ready to retire to the fields with the rest of the herd. Instead, they work six days a week with as many as a hundred difference riders, side walkers, leaders and instructors, a situation many horses would be unwilling to tolerate. Daisy and Dunkin Donut were nominated by Dr. Greg Staller of Running S Equine Veterinary Services, Califon.
Jeremiah Goodfellow aka Jerry
Search and rescue work demands dedication and teamwork. Jerry, a white German Shepherd dog and his owner/handler Sue Lavoie of West Milford, have been perfecting their technique together for most of Jerry’s 11-plus years, and their record of success includes locating individuals, bodies (on land and under water) and evidence. Their work at the Fresh Kills Landfill after the 9-11 attacks resulted in locating the remains of dozens of victims who would have otherwise been counted as missing. Training three times a month, regardless of weather and available to go anywhere at a moment’s notice, their service to the public can’t be overstated. Jerry was nominated by Dr. Aleda Cheng of American Animal Hospital in Randolph.
Karen Quigley and Elwood
A puppy deemed by his breeder as too ugly to live and a woman whose compassion for animals seemingly knows no bounds make a formidable team campaigning for animal welfare. When Elwood, a Chinese Crested/Chihuahua mix won the World’s Ugliest Dog contest, his owner, Karen Quigley, of Sewell, seized on his growing fame to bring attention to the alarming number of dogs euthanized in shelters each year, the need to spay and neuter pets and, perhaps most importantly, to teach children the importance of accepting others who are different from themselves. Along the way Karen and Elwood have raised thousands of dollars for animal welfare groups and for pets with disabilities. In the words of Elwood’s nominating veterinarian, Philippe Coudrai of Winslow Animal Hospital, “Elwood’s fame has been put to the best use by Karen to positively affect many people’s lives, as well as saving many other pets from euthanasia.”