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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / Creating Canine Caregivers /   Editorial List

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 Creating Canine Caregivers

Gary and MorrisThe phone rang as I was preparing to leave the office and drive upstate to host the 100th Fearless Caregiver Conference. I donít exactly know why I didnít let it go to voicemail. The car was packed and everyone was aboard except me. Morris, my puppy, was barking at all the commotion and I couldnít get him settled down. When I picked up the phone, on the line was Bob Taylor, who started to tell an extremely interesting tale about his ability to train dogs to support our loved ones living with autism or Alzheimerís disease. When I told him that we were essentially out the door and I would call him back on my return, he offhandedly asked if we were bringing my dog (who he heard barking in the background). I said that would be challenging as Morris barks at wheelchairs and walkers. He responded that he could easily solve that issueÖwhich stopped my exit from the building. What he said next made me sit down and talk with him in rapt attention for the next half hour. When I told him that Morris is the same breed as the dog in the movie As Good as It Gets, he replied that he had trained Jack Nicholson to handle dogs. He had my full attention.

We have all seen the wonderful work guide dogs for the blind and service dogs for disabled persons can do for their owners. Bob told me about how he is able to create the same level of relationship between the dogs he trains and our loved ones with autism or Alzheimerís disease. I spent the rest of the conversation wide-eyed and ignoring every plea from my staff to get going.

Bobís trained dogs can stop our loved ones from leaving the home if wandering is an issue, and even alert us when they start to leave. And in the early stages of Alzheimerís disease, our loved ones can safely go out for a walk with only the dog as their companion. The dogs that Bob trains can sense when our loved ones are depressed or fearful, and help them by showing affection or even leading them into a game of fetch.

But the thing that makes me most appreciative of Bobís work is that these dogs are able to develop a deep sense of partnership and even communication with our loved ones, who need that more than most anything else.

Check out Bobís website at

Gary Barg

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