2010 NJVMA Animal Hall of Fame Inductees
It takes special training to become a therapy dog. But those involved in animal therapy will tell you that, more than training, accomplished therapy animals have an innate ability to sense the feelings and needs of the humans they interact with. Ricky, a seven-year-old Standard Poodle owned by Lee Feldstein of Columbus, visits schools and nursing homes like many other therapy dogs. But it is at the US Army’s Soldier and Family Assistance Center at Ft. Dix that Ricky’s personality really shines. A natural clown, Ricky interactions with soldiers and their families takes on an up-beat, rambunctious tone that goes over well with military personnel as they deal with injuries or medical conditions while preparing to leave the military, or take on a new assignment. Ricky plays it for a laugh, even jumping on a table with a smile on his expressive face that says, “let’s play.”
It was just by luck that Gloria Williams, of Laurel Springs, saw a bulletin board ad for Australian Shepherds while visiting her daughter. Having recently lost her previous dog, she followed an impulse and went to look at the litter, and came away with the runt, a little blue merle she named Snowflake. Four years later that impulse became the great fortune of Ms. Williams neighbor, Anne Moncrief. It was the middle of the night when Ms. Moncrief began experiencing what would turn out to be a serious heart attack. Doubled over in pain she struggled to Ms.Williams back door, but was barely able to knock. Asleep upstairs, Ms. Williams heard nothing, but Snowflake went to investigate. Although she knew Mrs. Moncrief and would normally not bark at her, Snowflake sensed something was wrong. She went dashing back upstairs where she jumped on the bed – something she never did – to rouse Mrs. Williams and lead her down stairs. The ambulance was called and, after a week in the hospital Ms. Moncrief has fully recovered.
Shetland sheepdog owners don’t like the term “miniature collie.” But when your Sheltie reaches 76 pounds, he’s no longer miniature! Nate was the target of way too much love, which resulted in his mammoth weight – weight that allowed him to walk only a few steps at a time without tiring. When Charlie and Pat Blackford, of Randolph, brought Nate home after the passing of Charlie’s mother, they set for themselves the goal of getting Nate back down to a healthy weight. Obesity is growing more and more common among America’s pets, but the Blackfords were determined to prove that you can have a happy dog on a healthy diet. Today, at 38 pounds, Nate is proof that a conscientious owner has the power to protect their pet from the dangers of obesity.
Sometimes getting kids to focus on the subject at hand can be a teacher’s biggest challenge. Not so when the subject is Mabel, a 165 pound English Mastiff, who can take over a classroom just by flopping down on her side. Mabel ‘s mission is helping Dr. Mary Beth Morgan teach children about dogs – and veterinarians. Mabel’s impressive size and quiet, gentle nature are an irresistible attraction for young minds. As Dr. Morgan talks about keeping pets healthy and how veterinarians care for animals, her audience gets to listen to Mabel’s heart beat through a stethoscope and admire her impressive teeth. Even the shyest child eventually reaches out to pet her silky coat. And Dr. Morgan is convinced that, as Mabel ambles out of the classroom, she may be leaving one of tomorrow’s veterinarians behind.
During the 20 years that Ursula Goetz has led the Monmouth County SPCA, her vision has been to create the ideal animal shelter – one that will blend the needs of the animals it shelters and the community it serves. As she leaves her position as Executive Director, it is clear she has met her goal. The SPCA’s new, $6 million facility houses animals in large, glass walled gazebos that minimize the stress of shelter living. Community outreach offers low cost spay and neuter services donated by local veterinarians and school-based education programs intended to teach the need for responsible pet ownership. Obedience and training courses help ensure that adopted pets become valued family members.