Story of Our Journey March 15, 2022
So where did this idea come from of bringing a Service Dog fundraiser to a trade show? The original idea came for CEDIA. While I was attending the CEDIA show one of the vendors had a “show” dog in their booth. He was an actor of sorts. Trained to perform many tricks and engage the audience. I was immediately enthralled with the dog and the booth.
I began thinking, is there a way to incorporate a dog into our booth for InfoComm? Let’s face it, usually I’m away for a week or more for the trade show and while I’m gone I miss my pets fiercely. I was sure I wasn’t the only one. But I wanted to do something more than just a gimmick. That led me to service dogs.
I began researching service dogs and agencies and learning more about their programs. I then began looking for an agency in or near the Orlando Florida area since that was where the show was going to be held that year.
I found New Horizons which raises service dogs for those with disabilities and for those traumatized by military engagements. One of the first requirements that I wanted from an organization is that they provided the dogs for free. OK yes most ask that the recipient assist with volunteer engagements etc but the initial upfront cost that they would normally have to cover was provided at no cost through donations and events such as the one I was proposing.
It is shocking how many of the well known support agencies use a large portion of their donations to support their administrative structure. New Horizons applied our money towards the cost for a recipient. They rely on volunteers for donations of time, money and assistance in training and raising these dogs to be peek performers.
What I hadn’t intended on was to fall in love with this type of program or the dogs themselves. I had the opportunity to speak with people who had received dogs as well as other volunteers. The stories are truly inspiring. From dogs being trained to take cash and provide it to a check out person and then to be able to receive the change and give it back to their partner to dogs being able to sense a night terror and respond accordingly.
Part II April 8, 2022
Look we are animal lovers. And my house is proud to have three four legged furry members. And they are all special in their own way, this type of service function is just not in their DNA. New Horizons specializes primarily in Golden Retrievers who are loving, gentle, loyal, and sometimes a little dramatic. Likewise, Silver State Service Dogs specializes in Labrador Retrievers as they have many of these same character traits as well but with the added benefit of distinct ability to recognize scents.
After learning so much and discovering that there’s a huge need for volunteers we decided to apply albeit out of the normal to allow a dog to cross state lines, New Horizons was happy to have us assist.
To be clear the engagement at InfoComm or any trade show or major event, is for these dogs to have as many social experiences as possible. It’s important that during their training they experience as many events as possible. So that sometime in the future they won’t be surprised or overloaded by a new experience. At InfoComm we had a litter of puppies that got to experience a multitude of different people, smells, handling etc. They engaged and enjoyed the activity and came away with a new experience that would help them in the future.