Thursday, August 30, 2007

Best Cafe Woof Yet!

Wow, we just filmed the best Cafe Woof, yet!

It should air next Tuesday, Sept. 4th at 7:20 am on FOX-TV (KTBC) in Austin. After that, we'll get it up on our website.

This one showcases Texas Hearing & Service Dogs' training facility. We filmed it all at our new Training Building & Visitors Center. Best of all it shows recipients learning to work with their new dogs!

We even did interviews with both Melinda Doell, who is getting a new Hearing Dog "Chula", and Leigh Ann Shingler, who is getting a new Service Dog "Candy". Both did a fantastic job on camera and you'll enjoy hearing what they have to say, and watching them work with their new dogs.

We've added a feature at the end of each Cafe Woof. A spotlight on a Career Change Dog up for pet adoption. This time, it's our superstar Mr. Hollywood.

Check us out next Tuesday morning. It will give you something to look forward to after Labor Day!


Friday, August 24, 2007

THSD @ All UT Home Games!

Just got the most exciting news! Roger Beasley Volvo chose THSD to be its charity partner for its Volvo giveway at this season's University of Texas home games!

Volvo is giving away a new car at the last UT home game. They will have a display at the stadium entrance at each home game for people to sign up to win the car. They also will appear on the Jumbo-tron during the games.

We get to be part of the display and also appear on the Jumbo-tron at every game! That means we can bring our dogs, hand out flyers, do our Heavy Petting booth and meet thousands of new people. Plus show the whole stadium our wonderful program.

Roger Beasley Volvo wil present us with a check at the final home game. They also will produce and show a video about Volvo and THSD.

We will be part of a half million dollar advertising campaign throughout the UT football season.

This is the most exciting thing ever! A big thank you to David Stein, VP/Managing Partner and Jenny Kerwick, Financial Director of Roger Beasley Volvo for choosing Texas Hearing & Service Dogs. I promise we will make you proud.

See you at the game, parder! And our dogs already wear orange!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A couple of things that touched me

Sometimes I just see something and it touches me and I have to get it out.

I have a home office with windows to the front yard. I had put some cat food and water out for this really tough looking tomcat I've seen in my neighborhood after I noticed he had a huge injury to his jaw and throat area. Like a big raw scrape the size of a silver dollar.

Everyone knows who this cat is because he looks so raw and tough. He is black and grey striped. Huge head with wide jaws, large frame but scrawny.

There is another little cat, probably just an adolescent that wanders around. His front right leg must have been injured because it hangs at a funny angle from the ankle and he usually doesn't put any weight on it. He is thin, too, but still has the gentle vulnerable look of a kitten.

Well, sitting at my desk this past Monday, I see the big tough tomcat come up and start eating the cat food I set out. I'm really happy because he's still alive even with that huge injury. As he's eating, the small grey kitty comes up and starts eating, too. Right under him. He just sticks his head in under the big tom's head and starts eating!

I figured the tom would angrily run him off. Before I could even finish that thought, the tom did something that brought me to tears. He started licking the little cat while he was eating!

This big tough cat, who everyone thinks is mean and a bully is grooming this little injured male cat and letting him eat first.

How is THAT for compassion from an animal! I was floored.

I am going to dedicate myself to getting those two cats to my vet and getting them whatever care they need. They really taught me a lesson about not judging, and about putting someone else before you, even when you're hurt and hungry.
Okay, here is my other story.

Last night, after dinner with a friend, I was shopping at Fiesta for groceries.

Going down the produce and dairy aisle, I noticed this young girl - like 19 or so - in a pretty white summer dress. That stands out b/c everyone there is in jeans and t-shirts or sweats.

So she's standing there looking sort of lost. She doesn't have a grocery cart. But then I noticed she was looking down at a cookbook she'd brought with her.

Wow! That just flooded me with emotion (maybe most of it in my head but it seemed so true.) To me, this girl was looking for ingredients for this recipe that she wasn't sure how to make. I bet she was making it for a new boy in her life.

I sure know how that feels. You're all excited about the new relationship. You've gotten up the nerve to invite him to dinner. You're thrilled he said yes, but now you're scrambling to choose a dinner he'll like, get your home cleaned up, figure out what to wear and cook the darn thing right.

It was so touching, It made me smile.

Does any of this have to to with Texas Hearing & Service Dogs? Not directly. But it does in that it shows the nature of someone who is very involved with THSD to say the least. The same person who felt the things described here, is the one who started THSD and who tries every day to make it better.

How 'bout that?

from a rainy morning in Austin, Texas,


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Growth Spurt

Wow, the Training Building & Visitors Center is finally finished. We held our first Guest Speaker Training Seminar last weekend - Kathy Sdao's Advanced Clicker Training. (see photo)

I hope each of you gets to come out and see us. Whether you're volunteering, attending a special event like our upcoming Haunted House or coming to a dog training seminar, it's a beautiful, fabulous building. We all love it!

As you walk in, the first thing you see is the huge mosaic Cafe Woof sign in the hospitality area. Ann Paclik, our Volunteer Coordinator made this sign. There is fresh coffee brewing and cookies, muffins, granola bars and even on some occasions donuts to welcome visitors.

As soon as we get some shelves, we'll have our gift shop loaded with t-shirts, plush dog toys modeled after 8 of our graduate dogs and other knick knacks to add some cheer to your or your dog's life.

Through the window and the lovely French doors, you can see trainers in the main training area working dogs. Several dogs watch on, tethered to posts and enjoying the air conditioning and sometimes a chew treat, while their buddies engage in a lively training session. They're all waiting their turn to have fun, but still being observed and rewarded for being calm and quiet. Yes, watching politely can be a trained behavior, too and worthy of reinforcement by an astute Trainer!

What you'll notice at you walk through those French doors is the care taken with the interior design. The walls are painted a soothing sage green from the floor halfway up the wall to a stained wooden panel that runs around the whole room. The top half of the walls are painted a relaxing soft white with a green undertone from the same harmonious color palette. The floor is a beautiful burnished copper and green pattern created by staining the concrete. It makes a great impression.

What is most striking are the six mosaic columns. Inspired by the architecture of Antoni Gaudi of Barcelona, Spain, where some of our staff has taught, these columns feature colorful, fanciful mosaics that delight the eye and tickle the imagination. Wow, is that a sea theme? Is that one a big tail or a question mark? Look at that one - it's got every color of the rainbow and even some tiny butterflies and hearts in it! That other one looks like the forest - rich greens and earth colors.

Who was the artist, or artists you ask? We did it! The staff of Texas Hearing & Service Dogs. When we had some time, we sat down on the floor, composed a design, slathered some goop on the column and started applying tiles. Sometimes one person would start a section and one or two more would finish it another day. Sometimes we drew out a design and sometimes we improvised based on what tiles we still had in the box. We found it to be relaxing and often on Friday afternoons, you'd find a few staff members intently creating their works of art on the columns. Shy about getting started at first, everyone pronounced it therapeutic and enjoyed getting creative - especially the ones who started out wanting everything to be symetrical and to match. How much fun to see them embrace letting that go and just putting up things that defied definition.

It's not your everyday industrial dog training warehouse. This is a piece of our hearts built with attention to individuality and warmth in addition to dimensions, air conditioning capacity and plumbing.

Thursday, August 9, 2007