Tail-wagging Miracle Workers

Guest post by Karen Johnson (Blogger, From Paradise to Pungo) Thank you Karen for sharing with us about this wonderful organization.

joekaren-with-lots-ofdoggielovesYesterday, I made a long overdue trip Upcountry Maui to visit Hawaii Canines for Independence. They are a non-profit organization that is dedicated to training “special dogs for special people”. For almost a decade, this outstanding organization has been training dogs to help people with a variety of physical disabilities lead more independent lives. Up at their cozy and charming Kula facility, the sweet-tempered labradors and golden retrievers learn to carry shopping bags, pull wheel chairs, turn lights on and off, and pick up laundry. In fact, each dog is custom-matched to its owners needs and learns to do any task and go anywhere that will make their owner’s life easier.
Mo Maurer is the founder and executive director of this inspiring organization, and she is both a dog-lover and a humanitarian. This was Mo’s unrealized childhood dream until a personal health crisis lead her to finally quit her comfy job as a CPA and launch this work. She began with Sadie, a beautiful golden retriever who was her first service dog, and has since trained dozens of puppies and mo2matched them with disabled people all over the islands. Besides the practical help the dogs provide, they also give their owners companionship, a wagging tail, and the unconditional love dogs are famous for. They also provide a social link for their owners who are able to make friends and lose their sense of isolation and self-consciousness because of the warmth and charisma of their dogs.
Up at the facility, we got to watch the trainers in action, demonstrating how the dogs learn complex tasks by chaining actions together. For instance, first they learn to turn on a low light-switch, then they learn to step up on graduateandyindytnchair to turn on a high light switch, then they learn to put their paws up on the wall to reach the light switch. They get their dog biscuit reward for each action performed successfully, but seem to respond even more to the affirmation and approval of their trainers. We also watched a couple of news clips on people whose lives have been changed by these dogs. These included a paraplegic woman who is able to attend UH because of her dog’s help in the classroom, and a young boy with multiple sclerosis whose immobility could not impede the laughter created by his dog’s snuggling and face-licking. Seeing that kind of joy in a wheel-chair-bound child will make your whole day.
This is a total feel good organization. The people who work there have huge hearts, the dogs are as loveable a creation as the good Lord ever made, and they work together to help those among us with the biggest needs. Visit, volunteer, donate…you’ll get your own miracle.

Hawaii Canines for Independence
PO Box 790626
Paia, HI 96779

*Make sure you visit their website at www.hawaiicanines.com for more information and great photos!

hawaiicanine1

Needless to say, this is my Thankful Thursday entry for this week.  For more thankful hearts, click here.

UPDATE: CHECK-OUT this article on CNN related to this topic. It’s titled: Guide Dogs Trained To Handle Plane Emergencies. Click here to go there.

5 Responses to Tail-wagging Miracle Workers

  1. Denise March 11, 2009 at 10:07 pm #

    Wow, such a great organization, thanks for sharing with us.

    Denise’s last blog post..Thankful Thursday-Epic Story

  2. Sue March 12, 2009 at 10:06 am #

    Great post, what joy when people have special friends to share their lives with! Thank you for sharing.
    Blessings,
    Sue

    Sue’s last blog post..THANKFUL THURSDAY

  3. lesliek August 29, 2009 at 8:22 am #

    wonderful story.

    the people and dogs at this facility are just amazing!!

  4. Jeff Daviscourt August 30, 2009 at 11:37 am #

    Thanks Karen for blogging about HCI. If anyone is interested in keeping up with current happenings, they have a page on Facebook with plenty of pictures of the dogs and updates!

    Cheers,
    Jeff

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hawaii-Canines-For-Independence/118836304630

  5. Chicago Blues CD May 19, 2010 at 7:27 am #

    Thank you therefore much!! I have simply discovered this wonderful artist and his functions. They’re so peaceful and soothing, I possess used them on my desktop at the. It’s difficult to find information written in English regarding your pet, though..anyone have worthwhile links? Many thanks again!!

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