Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sheri's blog - June 14th When You're Sick, Friends Count!

I'm sick! Wah!!!

Is it allergies? Is it malaria? I just know my throat is achy, I can't sleep and I'm going through tissues like sandbags during a monsoon.

You know what's been the best medicine? My pets. Pearl, the Wonder Dog and my two cats, Kona, who is a black cat and Leo, who is a squirrel cat (see photo).

Through a totally restless night of tossing and turning, punching pillows, moving from the bed to the couch and back, these three furry therapists stayed by my side. They comforted me. Just having them next to me, soothed me more than any anti-allergy capsule or milkshake (I tried both w/ poor results.) When I was in pain, I could reach out a hand and touch soft fur. When I felt sad and alone, I could see sympathetic brown eyes looking at me with love and compassion.

This morning, the worst is over. I am still weak and I shouldn't push it today. (um, too late, I fear). But through all that misery - and it was miserable - the animals by my side were the best medicine.

This has got to be even stronger when your best animal friend is your Hearing or Service Dog. Some of our graduates suffer from chronic pain. You can't understand that - really understand it - unless you've been there. That is part of the blessing of being sick - it gives you great empathy for people in pain. I'm sure it fades w/ the symptoms leaving you, but it's good to have the insight of feeling weak, hurt and vulnerable.

So, I'm glad to have experienced the lifesaving comfort of a long legged border collie mix, a timid black cat and his Royal Highness Prince Leo, for helping me make it through the night and for the insight it gave me into an important way our Hearing and Service Dogs touch their partners.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Sheri's blog - June 5th Cafe Woof is Born!

Wow, the show turned out great. Cafe Woof is born!

FOX ended up showing it at 7:22 am instead of later when I thought it was going to be on. Complain? Not me! I'm happy they're interested and I got it on tape. Hopefully, it will be on their website soon and I link it to ours so everyone can see it.

Actually, I think more people watch it earlier. I've already gotten 2 calls - one from a woman whose daughter wants to volunteer and another from a man who wants to buy THSD t-shirts. How 'bout that!

I would have completely missed it, but thanks to "my fiance" Dennis Antolik who called to tell me it was about to air, I was seated on the couch w/ my co-star Pearl the Wonder Dog, ready to take it all in. In the spot, Dennis proposes to me, only to be ignored while I reward Pearl for a lovely down. He mentioned he noticed I wasn't wearing his ring in the following shots. It was a lovely $20 emerald cut solitaire, discounted to $12. No - I didn't ask what he spent on it! I bought it myself for the scene. It's about 3 sizes too big, but I needed a ring box and that was the only way I could get one.

ANYway, the spot looked great. I'm very happy with it. It got the information across in a lively, organized way that made sense.

I can't wait to do the next one!

Btw, I'm also in the June issue of Austin Woman, a free magazine you can find at Half Price Books and lots of other places around town. It's a nice profile written by Tonyia Cone. Page 78.

Okay - today we have a staff meeting at the training center. Then tomorrow is our airport tour for the Austin Animal Attraction photography exhibit there. It's displayed across from the restrooms near the foodcourt across from the escalator down to baggage claim. Got that? ;)

Then, later that day, I pick up a woman from another Assistance Dog group who is doing our inspection for accreditation for Assistance Dogs International. It's an all day inspection of paperwork, procedures, the buildings, etc. to give us the "OKAY Seal of Approval" from ADI, our association of training organizations. We're ready for it. Bring it on!

Zippity Doo Dah, I'm ready for the weekend already. Hmmm, half a cup of coffee left - that's what's missing.

Talk to you soon!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Sheri's blog (Flashback to May 29th: Filming Cafe Woof - Episode #1)

This was my first blog that got lost in blog-land. I tracked it down, grabbed it and now it's here. It was from last Tuesday, May 29th.

We filmed our first Cafe Woof segment this morning with FOX-TV. Gosh, everyone was so nice. It should air Tuesday, June 5th at 8:45 AM.

Btw, Cafe Woof is a segment I created to teach the public about dog training and other pet dog issues. It's named after our own Cafe Woof at the Texas Hearing & Service Dogs training center.

I had all the props and costume changes ready to go. A lot of what I talked about today is "catching your dog doing it right" and rewarding her. So there are examples of different times around the house when you can notice your dog doing what you want and rewarding her for it.

Dave, the photographer from FOX was wonderful. He added the technical know how to my dog training and and communication knowledge. He got almost everything in one take and really put me at ease on my first time. I have worked with him before and I was very happy to see him again. We even had time to shoot the opening and closing segments at the THSD Training Center - yay!

Also wonderful was Dennis Antolik, owner of the Austin Polo Club. Dennis was kind enough to play a pivotal role in the segment - his part is my favorite and when you see it, you'll understand. He was a great sport and extremely dashing - even without his polo pony!

Susan Ramsbottom, our Senior Trainer did an excellent job working with Service Dog "Doc" in the background during the Training Center segments. She always comes through and it's nice to get her on TV so everyone can see what an accomplished trainer she is.

This first episode should air on FOX in Austin, Tuesday, June 5th at 8:45 am.

I am reminding myself - it's not about how smooth I was or whether if I looked like a beginner. It's about teaching people how to get along with their dogs. The point of that is to a) have better relationships with your dog; b) solve dog problems so people don't dump their dogs at shelters; and c) encourage adoption of adult dogs, of mix dogs, of any pets from shelters and rescue groups.

Also, it's about showing the public how much we at THSD know about training and getting our name out there, which will hopefully lead to more support.

I really think this show will do that. And it's just going to get better.



Sheri's blog

Wow, my first comment on a blog I wrote! "Anonymous" - thank you! I really appreciate your kind note. I hope you write again!

Well, it's Sunday and I am going to force myself away from my home office and get out there!

I'm taking Pearl the Wonder Dog with me to the free Austin Symphony concert tonight in the park. Nice socialization - and it's strings, so it should be relatively peaceful. When they do percussion, we may sit a little farther from the instruments.

My good friend Lisa Starr with the Austin Humane Society wrote me that I'm profiled in the June issue of Austin Woman. I completely forgot about the article that Tonyia Cone was writing. I'm going to swing by a Half Price Books and pick a couple up. (One for my parents, naturally.)

I'm excited about Cafe Woof's debut this Tuesday on FOX at 8:45 am. If I can wrangle my new space age cable, I can tape it with just a few pushes of a button. I hope they'll end up showing it online. I wrote about the taping in my May 29th blog, but then, I wasn't adept at getting it online, so it's somewhere in blog-land on some super blogging website. I think our webmaster will be able to skew it and drag it to our website so y'all can read it. It's fun to read about these things behind the scenes.

Next month (it's a monthly this point - world domination, here we come!) I want to show people how to adopt a dog from a shelter. I would REALLY like to do this with someone who will actually go through the process and take the dog home - truly adopt it. Any volunteers? If so, contact me at

A good deal of it takes place BEFORE you even get to the shelter. This is the part where we look at your lifestyle and think about the kind of dog that fits it. Jogger? Small kids? Gone a lot? (If the last, get a teddy bear - Whew, I'm sassy! Must be the just one tiny piece of chocolate I found on my desk and made home for.)

Anyway, you know what I mean. Adopting a dog is a commitment. You and the dog will be much happier when you spend time with it. Just like a marriage, that's kind of the point, right?