TDI In The News
Another First for Therapy Dogs International (TDI)
The author, left, smiles as Ambassador Robert F. Godec
presents Forest with his honorary embassy badge at an awards ceremony in Nairobi.
Forest, a German Shepherd Dog, registered with Therapy Dogs International, has been declared an honorary member of the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. He is the US State Department's first "therapy dog".
Please follow the link to the article about this wonderful TDI team.
Paws That Refresh
Moore, Oklahoma Tornadoes
By: Cindy Walter
My family and I live across the street from what was Plaza Towers Elementary School. The school and all the homes and neighborhood around it was destroyed in the May 20th EF5 tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma. The storm was over a mile wide and packed circulating winds over 250 miles per hour. It was on the ground for 17 miles and left a path of destruction described by many as a war zone. Twenty-four people died, including 7 children at Plaza Towers, and countless others were injured, including pets.
My family and I own two cats, Buster and Sweetie. Buster is large brown tabby striped male and Sweetie is an average black and white tabby marked female. They are both loving of family but very skittish of strangers. Before the storm Sweetie had been suffering from some digestive issues and generally did not seem to be in great health. We feared that she did not survive the storm that crippled our home and that Buster had run from the premises at the first chance.
We called animal shelters, turned in all the forms that we were asked to fill out and even set a cat trap provided by our local animal shelter, tempting them with tuna and fish flavored canned cat food. Our cats never took the bait of the food in the trap, actually avoiding it completely and leaving it untouched where it had been set. Neighbors told us that they had seen cats resembling ours in the area around our destroyed home so we held out hope that at least one of them was alive.
Three days after the storm and once we were allowed to go inside the structure to start trying to pull any salvageable belongings, we spotted Sweetie. She dove from an area where volunteers were shuffling things around, ran into our hallway, paused, looked wide-eyed at my dad and me, then bolted into our bathroom. Our wonderful volunteers concentrated many efforts on our bathroom after the sighting but to no avail. She simply wasn’t being found and certainly not by strangers.
On this night before we left what we have affectionately deemed our “pile” my dad set a can of cat food by the opening of what used to be our back door. The following day this cat food was gone, can and all. A day later we returned to the pile and found the can, back in the spot where we’d left it and empty. Someone had eaten the food and placed the can out as if asking for more. This was progress and gave us hope that maybe both cats were alive and in the pile. That day we found our electric can opener. The opener was missing a tiny piece but still worked, making the same distinctive buzzing noise that our cats associated with tuna juice, a special treat that they only got once in a while. We wondered if this familiar sound would bring them out of their hiding places.
That night the authorities in our neighborhood began allowing people to break the strict nine o’clock p.m. curfew that had been enforced. It had been six days since the storm and since we had seen either of our cats. We were willing to try anything. So when it was dark outside, and the neighbors started leaving my dad grabbed the can opener and we made our way to the back door of the pile.
A few buzzes of the can opener and Buster popped his head out of a pile and walked toward us. When he was close enough and seemed calm enough I scooped him up and loved on him, taking a cross-legged seat on the filthy floor of what was our kitchen. Crying tears of joy I talked softly to him and hugged him and loved on him like I hadn’t in a while. My dad went around the front of the house and spoke with a National Guardsmen about possibly lending him a hand by way of a flashlight.
By the time he headed back toward the front of the house, I had made my way around there with Buster and was going to put him in our pick-up. However, in the darkness, not knowing who my dad was, he became spooked and struggled out of my protective grasp and back into the pile. I was hysterical, fearing that he’d never come back out for us and I’d be without my pets for even longer. My dad was undeterred and pressed on, back around to the back of the house. Several minutes later, with the National Guardsmen right behind him, he emerged with my Buster.
His next task was to find Sweetie, who is unequivocally and irrevocably, his cat. She loves everything about him. Since the last place we’d seen her was when she disappeared into the bathroom he started there. Whirring the can opener several times, and finally sitting down inside the bathroom he heard her faint little mew. He began talking to her and whirring the can opener and meowing back and forth with her and finally she emerged. She was close but he could tell still very shaken. He was afraid if he moved toward her, she would bolt again so he waited until she came right to him then he scooped her up and brought her out of the pile.
Back at our rent house, and finally settled in, we are all one big happy family again, with an extra furry reunion to be proud of.