WONDER DOG! Dog’s are truly humankind’s BEST friend!!
WONDER DOG! Dog’s are truly humankind’s BEST friend!!
I started preparing a post dealing with the discussion as to whether or not WI really has a “balanced budget” for 2011-13 with the concern as to WHY WI does NOT use the GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). I think WE THE PEOPLE of WI need to follow-up on the campaign promise which Scott Walker posted on his campaign website in November 2010 complemented NOW by an update by Dave Humhoefer on the “Walk-O-Meter” by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Politifact on November 16, 2011. Check it out: “The Truth-O-Meter says” that Scott Walker’s assertion of a “balanced budget” is “half-true.” For the details, read the full report.
In reality, WI does have an on-going “structural deficit” of $3 billion each of the 2-years! So ??? What about the TRUTH, the WHOLE TRUTH and NOTHING but the TRUTH?
And then I read the inspiring and very meaningful feature article by Melissa Fay Greene in the New York Times Magazine, “Wonder Dog.” I have already re-read the article. I encourage YOU to take time to read it – all of it and comment if you wish.
First, YOU will be inspired by another REAL LIFE report of how a service/therapy dog has provided very meaningful support and help to a person with special needs. The article is very straight-forward in its report with helpful cooperation of the parents of the child.
Second, I know that each and every one of us has had the personal experience of relating to a person with a service/therapy dog. With the work of developing the Wisconsin Academy for Graduate Service Dogs (WAGS) having started in Rock Co., I had knew the WAGS founders, Debra Oster & Lynn Thorp, as well as welcoming dogs in training both in church (Emerald Grove Congregational United Church of Christ) and in my classroom (Parker High School, Janesville). I urge you to use this link to get current information about WAGS which is NOW headquartered in Madison.
Third, “Wonder Dog” helped me gain information and perspective on the numerous facets of the whole story of Donnie and Harvey Winokur seeking to adopt a son watching a videotape from a Russian orphanage. Responding to the videotape, they traveled to Russia to adopt the boy and while there adopted a girl too. They returned home to Atlanta, GA with the 2 adopted Russian children. They were VERY GRATEFUL & SATISFIED!
After the children’s 3rd birthdays, the fairy tale began showing cracks. While the daughter, Morasha developed in a very healthy way, the son, Iyal became oppositional and explosive. Medical diagnosis focused on Iyal’s brain and central nervous system having been severely, irreversibly damaged in utero by the teratogen of alcohol, resulting in an incurable birth defect. Truth be told, though alcohol consumption by Iyal’s birth mother could not be documented, the available evidence pointed to fetal alcohol syndrome, F.A.S., the most extensive form of the range of effects known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, or F.A.S.D.
I did NOT know much about F.A.S., so I went to Wikipedia to get basic information. I read the article, “Fetal alcohol syndrome.” For me, this basic article is in layman’s language which I am able to understand. I honestly had NOT realize the wide-ranging consequences of women drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Live and learn. I note that the US surgeon general calls for TOTAL ABSTINENCE from alcohol during pregnancy.
The article continues to report on Iyal’s development with more and more difficult behaviors year after year. It was Donnie who became more aware of the world of special-needs families and discovered a nonprofit service-dog agency in OH (my native state) which was placing autism assistance dogs with children.
Donnie started sharing her HOPE that a dog would help Iyal. Her husband responded, “We don’t need a dog!” As the writer shares, Harvey felt that one more howl raised under their roof, one more living creating whining for attention, one more source of strife between the children would push him beyond endurance. He asserted, “No, Donnie. It’s too much. I couldn’t take it.” As Donnie continued persistently, Harvey cried, “A dog? Forget about it, please. It’s me or a dog.”
Fourth, the article shifts to tell us about the amazing history of the dog-training school in Xenia, OH which developed from the life nightmare of Karen Shirk who was rushed to the hospital at age 24 and after months got report of the grim diagnosis of myasthenia gravis, a rare neuromuscular disease.
I didn’t know anything about that disease, so I searched for the Wikipedia feature article “Myasthenia gravis” and read it. Again, I learned about another disease about which I literally did NOT know anything. Live and learn.
With that diagnosis, 24-year-old Karen went home to become a respirator-dependent patient in need of constant care. Do NOT miss the rest of this challenging and inspiring story as KAREN, blessed by the persistence of a new nurse 6 years after she had been released from the hospital. That nurse asked, “Why don’t you get a service dog?” VERY interesting and inspiring rest of this part of the story! Don’t miss it!
The next MAJOR phase of the story is that Karen Shirk assembled a board and founded 4 Paws for Ability, a nonprofit corporation. I read carefully through this website so I would KNOW about Karen’s special mission. NOW starts another miraculous and thrilling phase of this story! Step-by-step the organization expanded in services.
Fifth, finally, we come to the WONDER DOG segment of this article. The heading in the article is, “Cool dog. Lucky kid.” You will want to read the rest of this part of the story to get acquainted with 9 year-old Iyal and this very special golden retriever, Chancer.
I enjoyed the candid comments about dogs when Jeremy Dulebohn, the full-time training director, is talking with a class of parents. “The dogs are nonjudgmental. You’ve got a kid who’s picking his nose? The dog isn’t thinking, That is gross. He’s thinking, Save one for me! Or your child has disappeared and you say: ‘Find Jeffrey.’ The dog isn’t thinking, Jeffrey’s in danger! The dog thinks: Game on!”
I read on with more and more and more interest as Melissa Fay Greene deftly describes the relationship between Iyal and Chaner. Be sure YOU read about Chancer’s drive into the hot tub at the hotel where the Winokur family was staying while in OH to adopt a service dog and be trained with the dog.
It is meaningful to read about the CHANGE OF TIME from “B.C., Before Chancer” to A.C.,” After Chancer.” You are guessing what it means… you will be happy to read the descriptions of the changes! I was.
Do NOT get carried away hoping for a CURE MIRACLE! The author uses this heading to move us into the last segment of this wonderful article, “Chancer has not cured Iyal.” Donnie and Harvey share candidly the REALITY of life with Iyal.
You will NOT want to miss the inspiring last paragraph of the article… just remember, “Wonder Dog” is really about “just a boy and his dog.”
What are YOUR comments after you read, “Wonder Dog”?
I went to the 4 Paws for Ability and made a contribution. I sent an e-mail to KAREN expressing my gratitude for her work…
I also sent an e-mail to the author, Melissa Fay Greene (firstname.lastname@example.org). I am sure she would appreciate YOUR note too.
Here we go…
John Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor of political science at UW-Waukesha and an advocate for democracy/civics education in Wisconsin high schools. John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.