MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life
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Friday, August 28, 2009

The Link Between Animal and Human Abuse: Michael Vick Should Not Be in a Role Model Position

Although I believe everyone deserves the opportunity to a job after release from prison, I don't believe Michael Vick should be back in the NFL, where sports figures are modeled and revered by children and teens as well as adults. Even though he may eventually help the cause of animals, I don't feel we really know that yet, and placing him in such a high profile, public eye "job" seems inappropriate to me.

It's been shown that there is a link between those who abuse animals and their eventual, if not concurrent, abuse of people in their lives. Wives. Girlfriends. Children. Abusing animals is horrible in and of itself, and it's also a red flag of what's most likely to come next. This is the even more cruel truth about animal cruelty. According to American Humane, "a crime against an animal should never be taken lightly ... cruel in its own right ... a sign that the perpetrator could be capable of hurting people, too."

I agree, and this is one of my concerns about Michael Vick given the heinous crimes he committed against helpless dogs. Yes, he deserves a job, but to be placed where he, as a sports figure, is revered, cheered, and paid millions of dollars? Shouldn't the NFL hold their players to a higher standard and be empowered to say "No" to Vick for life?

You can learn more about The Link between animal and human abuse at

Some states allow pets to be included in domestic-violence protective orders. Find out about your state at The Link and advocate for legislation that protects animal victims of abuse in your state.

Very sadly, some animal abuse perpetrators begin in childhood. Teachers and parents need to educate themselves on the signs a troubled child displays who may be abusing animals or who have this penchant for violence. According to American Humane, "statewide coalitions in Maine, Rhode Island, Delaware and New Mexico, as well as groups in cities such as Boston, Phoenix, Colorado Springs and San Antonio, have formed to spread awareness of The Link and increase the likelihood of identifying where and when violence may be occurring. More communities need to take action ... It’s important that judges and juries understand The Link when evaluating abusers’ behavior."

I hope that future abuse will not be the case for Michael Vick and the people in his life. I hope he truly is remorseful, can be successfully rehabilitated, and become a true champion for animals. But that remains to be seen. Somehow I'd believe in Vick's intentions with the Humane Society of the United State more if he made stopping dog fighting and animal cruelty his cause without the motive of returning to the NFL. Time will tell.

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns
Author of MAGGIE the dog who changed my life: A Story of Love

Monday, August 24, 2009

American Humane Association Launches Innovative ‘Therapy Animals Supporting Kids' Program

Anyone who has ever done Therapy Dog work will relate to this wonderful new program launched by American Humane for abused and neglected children. Therapy animals bring so much to those in Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Centers, Hospice, Hospitals, Reading programs for children, and more. Helping children who have been traumatized to open up in therapy is key to their healing, and therapy animals help them do just that.

Taken from

American Humane Association Launches Innovative ‘Therapy Animals Supporting Kids (TASK) ™’ Program

On August 17 The American Humane Association "officially launched an innovative new program that encourages and guides child welfare professionals on how to incorporate therapy animals into sessions with children who have been abused or neglected or who have witnessed violence. When children have suffered trauma, it is often difficult for them to speak of their experiences. Incorporating a therapy animal into the process can help a child open up and promote the healing process.

The new program is called “Therapy Animals Supporting Kids (TASK) ™”. It was created by Allie Phillips, J.D., vice president of American Humane’s Public Policy Office and a former prosecuting attorney, and Diana McQuarrie, director of animal-assisted interventions for American Humane and a certified therapy-animal handler. They worked in cooperation with Delta Society® and top child protection professionals to produce the program. TASK was unveiled at the 21st Annual Crimes Against Children Conference in Dallas, which is considered the largest child abuse conference in the United States.

'As a former prosecutor, I understand the importance of helping children feel comfortable when disclosing and testifying about abuse or trauma,' said co-author Phillips. 'Therapy animals provide that comfort and security. The TASK manual was written to help professionals understand this important dynamic that can help a child through the daunting court process.'

American Humane has long acknowledged the power of the human-animal bond, and currently trains and provides registered therapy animals to help people in need, especially children who have been abused or neglected or have witnessed trauma to others. To further support and advance this work, American Humane developed the new TASK national initiative.

It is widely accepted that therapy animals can help individuals who have suffered physical or emotional trauma, but TASK takes this concept one step further. The TASK Program provides guidance to child welfare professionals, attorneys and prosecutors, child protection workers, social workers, police officers, and any other professionals who work with children who have been maltreated and could benefit from involvement with therapy animals..."
You can learn more at:

(Above photos are of my grandson, Aaron (so not abused or neglected) and our dog, Maddie).

Where would we be without animals to help us in the myriad ways they do?

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns
Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

Friday, August 21, 2009

Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Dog Book Review

by Dawn Kairns

Creatively spoken in Frankie’s voice in a way that will charm children, Barbara Techel’s determined and tender spirit shines through in her love and commitment to Frankie. The deep connection they share leaps from the pages of this heart warming book.

This is an inspirational true story for anyone who has had to overcome adversity. Brightly illustrated, Frankie will appeal to children and dog lovers of all ages. Children will be exposed to some of the realities of life, including handicapped people and animals, and even to death when Barbara’s special heart dog Cassie dies, in a simple, non-threatening manner that teaches compassion.

Any person struggling with his/her own mobility impairment, or with a disabled pet will be inspired by Frankie and Barbara’s uplifting message. The bonded pair transforms sadness and hopelessness from Frankie’s tragedy into a zest as and passion for their new life mission together.

This story of dedication and perseverance can bring hope and joy to broken hearts. Not only is Frankie The Walk ‘N Roll Dog a great gift book, Barbara and Frankie have given a gift to all handicapped pets, their people, and veterinarians by teaching them how paralyzed dogs can lead normal, happy lives with the help of wheels so they can walk ‘n roll like Frankie!

You can learn more about Frankie's story and Barbara Techel at

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns
Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

Monday, August 17, 2009

Review of "8 State Hurricane Kate" by Jenny Pavlovic

by Dawn Kairns

When Hurricane Katrina hit, the world was horrified by the loss of human life, the destruction, and the masses of people left stranded. And then the incomprehensible reality of all the animals left behind to die sank in. Jenny Pavlovic could not continue her everyday life without going to New Orleans to help care for the dogs left behind to drown or starve. Nor could she leave Kate, an older cattle dog that won her heart, to the fate of the system at Lamar Dixon, the large makeshift animal shelter in New Orleans. Against many odds, Jenny took Kate home to foster and care for her.

8 State Hurricane Kate touches us in so many ways. Yes, it is Jenny’s tribute to Kate, the deep spiritual connection they shared, and how she changed Jenny’s life forever. It is also a demonstration of the strength of human and canine spirit alike, and what one courageous, determined, passionate woman can do to help the dog she loved so deeply; and to then carry on Kate’s legacy by rescuing other dogs from “death row.”

I ached with Jenny’s heartbreak in the loss of her own pets and as she encountered one health and behavior obstacle after another with Kate. I am in awe of her commitment to Kate and to dog rescue. It will warm your heart to realize the behind the scenes work of “guardian angels” across the country (that Jenny is part of) whose mission is to safely transport dogs about to be euthanized into foster homes and safe shelters nationwide.

Jenny and Kate’s story will motivate readers to volunteer our own efforts to help our local homeless pets. 8 State Hurricane Kate shows that we, too, can make a difference for one animal at a time, as Jenny did for Kate, even if we can’t save them all. I love Jenny’s resource section in the back of her book; it lists rescue agencies and provides information for pet guardians to prepare for their pet’s care in the event of an emergency or disaster situation.

I am moved by Jenny Pavlovic’s incredibly huge heart, which does not stop giving when she loses Kate. She continues Kate’s legacy by her ongoing animal rescue work, which she generously funds with 50% of her book profits through the 8 State Kate Fund.

You will feel a wide range of emotions as you read this inspirational love story, from sadness and loss to faith and hope. This book makes the world aware of the tragic consequences for the animals left behind in our country’s greatest natural disaster. In writing this book, part of Jenny’s mission is to show the world what really happened, and the heart wrenching impact on the animals left behind, most of whom lost their people forever. Having gone to Mississippi myself to work with the animals following Hurricane Katrina, I thank Jenny for writing this book so the world will now know, and I pray make certain that the animals are never left behind again.

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns
Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

Friday, August 14, 2009

Studies Show Dogs and Babies More Intelligent Than We Knew

On Monday, August 10, a research study reported that dogs have the developmental abilities equivalent to a human 2-year-old. Some dogs can learn up to 250 words, with the average being 165 words. It also shows that different breeds of dogs differ in their intelligence. My understanding is that the study only examined language skills.

TIME has an article today on Child Psychology: A New Look Inside Babies Minds'. According to TIME, Alison Gopnik, a University of California, Berkeley, psychologist says in her new book, The Philosophical Baby, that modern research is revolutionizing our understanding of the first years of life; it reveals early childhood to be an intense period of intellectual, emotional and moral development. "Any child will put the most productive scientist to shame," she writes.

Gopnik says that for most of history, babies were seen as "vegetables with a few reflexes."
"If you just casually look at a baby, it doesn't look like there's very much going on there, but they know more and learn more than we would ever have thought. Every single minute is incredibly full of thought and novelty."

She also says, "babies are more imaginative and even more conscious than adults. They take in much more information from different sources than adults do and work very hard to make sense of that information. It's one reason we think babies sleep so much - they're doing much harder work than grown-ups are..."

So, if dogs are the intellectual equivalent of toddlers, and babies know and learn more than we had any idea of before, and are more imaginative and conscious than we knew, might the same be true of dogs and other animals? Have we short changed dog and animal intelligence like we have human babies until now by using language and language understanding as the primary measure of their intelligence?

One of my radio interviews this past week on the Ed Verschure show on WHTC in Holland, Michigan discussed this study of dog IQ along with my book. In another of my radio interviews last week with Dr. Beth Erickson titled, Communicating With Your Pet, we discussed how well dogs/animals communicate, including their seeming telepathic abilities to know our thoughts at times.

I certainly had these experiences with my dog, Maggie and talk about them in my book, as well as with Chloe, the 11 year old Golden we adopted a year after Maggie's death. I love sharing the "mind-reading" and "tuning in" experiences of other dog guardians with their own dogs because I believe these abilities in canines and other animals need to be made known and taken into account when studying canine intelligence. Like we are now discovering with babies, I believe we'll find that dogs/animals are more conscious and imaginative than humans thought.

Here is Elly's story from a book club I discussed MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life with. Her pup, Zander, tuned in to her husband's illness, and perhaps even "took some of it on" energetically. I'd asked the group to share their dogs' abilities to tune in to them, to read them/their minds in ways training couldn't explain. I also asked if they'd had dreams where significant information was revealed regarding their pets.

Ah yes, too many to list, so I will mention my latest. About 15 mos ago I found out about a litter ... The breeder had plenty of pups spoken for and I was a bit depressed over not getting on the puppy list on time ...

A month later I had a dream the babies had been born and I saw one male very clearly even as an adult, totally grown up. I woke up and was smiling about my dream and decided to let
the breeder know (she was in Holland, we live in Texas). Well, what do you know, the pups had been born during the night. She also had more males then she had expected. So I was on the list.

I flew to Holland to pick him up. Well, there was no doubt who my boy was. He walked up to me and that was that. When he got home he seemed to know the routines instantly. My husband commented on his way of always being in the right spot every time.

When my hubby was diagnosed with bladder cancer he had some serious discomfort from the chemo. Every day my boy would lay his head against my husbands lower tummy, look at me, then close his eyes. He'd stay there for about 5 minutes. He would then go lay down by my chair and go to sleep. During these times he could hardly eat and had a sick tummy. My hubby is doing better at the moment and my Zander has put on quite a bit of weight. He just turned 1 yr, so this was all as a baby.

Oh, yeah, when I sit too long after breakfast, he brings me his leash. If I ignore it, he brings me other dogs' leashes, then he brings me my shoes ...

What do you think? Are dogs/animals more intelligent than even this recent study gives them credit for? Does your dog/pet know what you are thinking?

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns
Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

Friday, August 7, 2009

Have Your Dreams Communicated Important Messages About Your Dogs/Animals?

This was another question I asked an online book club as author of the month. Here is Dr. Kay's response, a veterinarian and the author of Speaking for Spot:

I was once working with a dear client who was struggling with end of life decision-making concerning her Husky who was sick with lymphoma. She knew in her heart of hearts it was time to let go, but couldn't proceed with euthanasia, in part because the dog represented an emotional tie to her recently deceased husband. At the appointment time this client scheduled for euthanasia to take place she shared with me what finally allowed her to proceed. The night before she'd had a dream in which she saw her beloved husband kneeling down and her dear dog running excitedly into his outstretched arms.

What a confirmation this client received from her dream to help her make the most difficult of decisions about her beloved dog. Thank you, Dr. Kay, for sharing this dream with us. I woke up to the intuitive and even clairvoyant power of my own dream messages during my life with my soul mate black labrador, Maggie, and share many of them in my book, MAGGIE: the dog who changed life What about you, what important messages have you received through your dreams about your precious animals?

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns
Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Guardian Angel Dog Saves Her Person Through Canine Intuition

My dog, Maddie being Cinnamon's guardian angel in backseat of truck.

Here is Shamron's response to my question to an online book club: Have any of you had experiences, past or present, where your dog seems to understand you or what you're thinking where you can't attribute it to training?

... I am immediately reminded of my now deceased Flat-coated Ret
riever, Epic. She had the most beautiful and intuitive soul I have ever known, human or animal. She would often sit with me on the couch and knew before I spoke what I was going to ask her to do.

One time out of the blue she went to sit by the door waiting to
go with me. I had been thinking I needed to go to the store before a big snow storm came but I wasn't thinking of taking one of the dogs. It turned out to be a true miracle because she saved us both that day. She like to ride shot gun on the seat next to me. On the way home it was snowing so hard I could barely see. I told Epic to keep watch for any cars coming. We went on a bit at a snail's pace and Epic suddenly turned and stared at me. So I stopped the car, who knows why. Had I gone on we would have had an almost head on with a pick-up truck.

She was amazing at sizing people up too. There was not a mean bone in her body ever, she loved everyone. Yet one afternoon we were driving back
home from the city to where I lived in the boonies. It was really foggy so you could not see a thing. I was again only going a couple miles an hour. From literally out of no where this guy comes out at the road side. Really there he was like some specter. Epic took one look at him and every single hair on her body rose straight up. She growled and said things an Irish mother would not say. The guy was now standing in the road blocking me from passing except by this tiny path on the shoulder that looked down into a gully. I drove it with Epic at the side window near the guy and you could tell she was wishing she could have a bite. I got home and that night on the news there was a report of a fellow who walked away from a prison work detail right in that area. I don't know if he was the man but Epic sure saw him as a threat.

Living with her was wonderful. I called her my guardian angel. It's been almost two years and I still go to the baggie with her hair clipping and smell it and am with her once again.

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns
Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

*Dog Writer's Association of America 2008 Merial Human-Animal Bond Award Finalist* *Indie Book Awards 2009 Finalist*

Monday, August 3, 2009

These Behaviors Were Never Taught To My Dog, Sonny ...

Tomorrow morning I'll be interviewed on 3 WI Radio in Brainerd, Minnesota by Lon Schmidt, and he wants to focus on stories of canine telepathy. How exciting to have a radio host explore this topic! So I am motivated again to share with you stories of others who have had this magical experience with their dogs/animals.

Some of the stories this week will include dogs who are simply extraordinary at reading our body language, dogs who turn themselves into service/assistance dogs when they sense the need in their humans, dogs who sense chemical changes to alert their humans to seizures, and dogs who seem to know what we are thinking. Here is Carla's story of Sonny, from a book club group who I discussed MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life with:

...My first rough tri-collie bitch, Cody, was extraordinary in her ability to read my body language. She was such a comfort in times of stress and, like all heart dogs, seemed to know when I needed her to sit quietly and offer her empathy. I will miss her always for her special friendship and wordless understanding.

I never thought I would have another dog that would be as special. However, Sonny has proven to have special skills too. I have high tone hearing loss that is uncorrectable. Sonny, my 7-year-old smooth coated collie boy, alerts to sounds by looking at me in a certain way. He gets right in front of me, doesn't let me move, and stares intently.
If we are walking on the county road and I get the behavior and the "look", there is a car behind us.

One night, my husband's cat ran out of the house when I opened the door after a walk. I didn't see nor hear him. Sonny did, and made a nuisance of himself sitting directly in front of me whenever I turned around. There was that "look" that told me something needed my attention. When I finally figured it out, I opened the door to a very happy cat who must have been vocalizing his little heart out!

Before I was diagnosed with seizures, Sonny's behavior was very strange on walks. He would come behind me (on the right side only) hit my right hand, and body block (goes perpendicular in front of me and stops). I have learned since being diagnosed that he very possibly can sense something wrong with me. I now turn for home immediately if he starts this behavior and often can ward off a seizure with medication and rest.
These behaviors were never taught to Sonny, but you can bet I know what to do when he communicates in this way. He has awesome ability as an assistance dog!

I have enjoyed all the stories and thank you for letting me tell mine. Dogs are the best!!

Thank you, Carla! This post is to honor all service and assistance dogs, and dogs who have the ability to communicate with their humans in exceptional ways, as Sonny does.

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns
Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life