When Loren Marino of Toms River adopted the five-week old runt from a litter of ten West Highland White Terriers she hoped to nurse the sickly little dog back as a pet, companion and, possibly, a show dog. Instead, she got a lifesaver. Today “Kelsie” is Loren’s Medical Response Service Dog, who monitors her cardiac condition by listening to her heart rhythm, and her hypoglycemia by detecting a lowering of Loren’s blood sugar levels. Kelsie can perform more than 200 tasks that help Loren deal with her physical limitations. When shoulder surgery threatened to make driving impossible, Kelsie learned to operate the electric door locks, windows, directional signals and horn in Loren’s car. Loren and Kelsie make frequent appearances at schools and business groups, educating the public about the role of service dogs in society. Kelsie helps teach animal first aid at the local Red Cross chapter, and she and Loren make regular visits to local nursing homes. Said Loren: “Although she may never be an AKC champion of record, she will always be a champion to me because, above all, this friend and life-saver has educated me in what it means to truly give of one’s self freely, to love unconditionally and to live your life to your fullest potential, no matter what limitations life and nature place on you.” Kelsie was nominated by Dr. Viola Chu of Ocean County Veterinary Hospital.
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If it’s Thursday or a holiday at the Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington,”Colin” Heide is sure to be walking the halls. The eight-year-old Flat Coated Retriever, a British import owned by Peter and Molly Heide of Ringoes, has been making weekly visits to the hospital for more than five years, racking up well over 400 hours of volunteer service, cheering and comforting patients in ever corner of the facility. Children seem to be his favorite. A three-year-old walking down a hospital corridor with her mother receives a face full of enthusiastic licks and refuses to let Colin go. “More kisses,” she demands. Even infants in strollers respond in delight to his calm, friendly presence. Combined with his weekly Monday visits to the Alzheimer’s Unit at Hunterdon Care, Colin has logged more than 300 therapy visits, and his career shows no sign of slowing down. In his ‘spare’ time, Colin visits the Easter Seals Day Care Center for severely handicapped adults in Hamilton Township, and participates in the Princeton Library Read to the Dogs Program. Says Mollie Heide,” We always tell people it’s partly for the patients, partly for the staff and 100% for us. We cannot imagine doing anything better with our time.” Colin was nominated by Dr. Mark Smith of Hopewell Veterinary Group.
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“Deuce” is a Czech Shepherd and the K-9 partner of Officer William Logan Jr. of the Atlantic City Police Department. Deuce is a formidable crime fighter, with 38 apprehensions, including five of armed suspects, to his credit. His double life begins at the Logan home in Galloway, where he becomes a docile and loving member of the family, lounging on the furniture watching TV, playing with the Logan children, and even sleeping on the bed with Officer Logan and his wife. “It’s like he has an on-off switch,” Logan says. “When it’s on, he’s all duty. When it’s off, he’s just a loveable member of the family.” Deuce’s latest exploit came in 2005 when he and Logan crawled under the Atlantic City Boardwalk in pursuit of a suspect armed with a sawed-off shotgun who had threatened police and bystanders on the Boardwalk. Deuce burrowed through the bank of sand the suspect had erected, grabbed him by the calf and then, along with Logan, dragged him into the open, where he was arrested. Deuce was nominated by Dr. Kim Taylor of Somers Point Veterinary Hospital.
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“We love Lucy. And she loves us.” Such a simple statement, but one that says it all about the bond between Lucy, a nine year old cockapoo, and Desiree and Brent Felgner of Belleville, Lucy’s smitten owners. An ad, spotted by chance in a rarely read newspaper led Brent and Desiree to look at a still-at-home litter of three cockapoos, two of which were already spoken for. As they watched the puppies play, one wandered over to Brent, who picked her up “Her entire body fit in my hand,” he recalled, “ She looked up, licked my hand, stretched out and went to sleep in my palm.” Lucy had found her family. Nine years later Lucy can be found sitting on the desk as Brent and Desiree work at home, or sharing a pillow at night. It’s not, Brent says, that Lucy is any more or less loving than countless other dogs. “To us, she is the embodiment of everything good about the human-animal bond. She is the celebration of everything that is right about the rich relationship between the two- and four-legged creatures. We are a happy pack.” Lucy was nominated by Dr. Marguerite Hoey of Arlington Dog and Cat Hospital.
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New Jersey Veterinary Foundation Award:
Dr. Len Soucy calls himself an avian repairman. Starting in 1968 in the back yard of his Millington home with a wounded Red tailed hawk, Dr Soucy has been tending to sick and injured raptors and other birds for almost 40 years. At last count, more than 56,000 avian patients had passed through his hands and those of his staff of paid and volunteer assistants, with nearly half of them returned successfully to the wild. Dr. Soucy is founder and director of The Raptor Trust – the non-profit all-species avian rehabilitation center he established in 1982, when the size and expense of the operation became too large and expensive to run alone. Today The Raptor Trust admits an average of 3,250 birds a year. The facility sits on 14 acres adjacent to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, where recovering birds are housed in 70 exterior cages and aviaries after being treated in an on-site medical facility. Some 180 educational programs each year, offered at the Trust’s education center and in classrooms around the state, augment the activities of Dr. Soucy and his staff. Indeed, Dr. Soucy is as much an educator as a rehabilitator. “From the beginning,” he said, “one of our most important missions has been to educate people about the natural world, wild birds, and in particular, raptors.” Dr. Soucy was nominated by Dr. R. Wayne Randolph of Countryside Veterinary Hospital.
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