It’s Raining (Wild)Cats and Dogs at the University of Kentucky

It’s Raining (Wild)Cats and Dogs at the University of Kentucky

A bond that will forever change both dog and human.
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LEXINGTON, Ky.—An elite team of eight is making a difference on the campus of the University of Kentucky. As students walk to and from class, they stop and stare at the members of this group and often snap pictures.

At first glance, one may venture that the students are mesmerized by players from UK’s ever popular, eight-time NCAA championship men’s basketball team, but they would be wrong. These members of this team are of much shorter stature.

The Wildcat Service Dogs are an elite group of service dogs in training that are making a difference with helping hands, make that helping paws, on UK’s campus.

Founded by Katie Skarvan in 2014, Wildcat Service Dogs is an organization run completely by students. The program raises and trains service dogs for the first 10-12 months of their lives before they go on to specialized training with Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence.

Even more amazing than the fact that these dogs learn to pay cashiers with credit cards or open doors, is the unique relationship that develops between the trainer and dog over the course of their time in the program.

Upon receiving their puppy, trainers are responsible for socializing, teaching, housing, and financing their dogs. In addition to working with their puppy, trainers must attend weekly training sessions and once-a-month socialization outings, as well as completing progress reports to define their dog’s improvement for the week.

Molly Mathistad, current Vice President of WSD and a trainer of one-year-old Hudson who graduated the WSD program Oct 14, reflected on their close bond.

“I grew to love Hudson with all of my heart because of how goofy, happy, and loving he was” she said, “I knew that he would be there to make my day with that smile every time I looked at him, just like he knew that I'd always be smiling back.”

It is this special relationship between trainer and dog that make this program so successful and allows it to make such an impact on the campus.

Mathistad and Hudson’s emotional connection was reflected in their working relationship.

“Creating a bond with your training partner is one of the most important things to their training,” Mathistad says.

“A lot of training a service dog is just making everything that you possibly can into a positive experience, and when they know that nothing negative is going to happen because they look to you and you're excited about what's happening, they're much more open to it.”

The WSD program is set up to teach the dogs basic commands first, and mastering them is tantamount to their future success. They learn to sit, down, stay, and watch as their initial commands in addition to being potty-trained and taught to respond to their names.

Socialization is an imperative factor in their training as well. Service dogs must become acclimated to various scents, sounds, people, places, and environments.

The trainer is the key tool in accomplishing these goals. Their emotions in regards to training sessions have a heavy impact on the dog.

“If they [the dog] feel you getting frustrated, they shut down as well. If they see you acting scared, they can react to that too; and conversely, if they see that you're excited about something, they'll be more open to it as well,” says Mathistad.

Wildcat Service Dogs also gives members the chance to be “sitters”. These members are an incredible aid for trainers who need to work, study, or do something personal that their dog cannot be a part of. Sitters take the dog into their hands for the allotted time that the trainer needs covered. During this time they are responsible for ensuring that the dog continues to practice the skills that they are being trained to do.

Thus, sitters have an opportunity to form a relationship with the dogs in the program as well, a bond that makes an impact on their own lives just as much as the dogs.

“My favorite part of sitting the dogs in Wildcat Service Dogs is getting to work with each dog in the program, and getting to know each of their different personalities, said Kate Clowes, a trained sitter for WSD.

Clowes has been sitter with the program for a year now and loves every minute.

“I get a chance to be a part of something great, and I get to work with amazing dogs to do it,” she says, “I get to see firsthand the relationship that these animals have with their trainers, and I get to be a small part of that as well.”

Both Clowes’ and Mathistad’s work with WSD reflect the mission of the organization and their desire to touch the lives of the community through the dogs they work with.

Through developing numerous skills, socialization training and preparation for future advanced training, each dog from WSD are becoming the perfect aide and best friend for their future owners.

Each dog’s trainer is a piece of helping them accomplish that.

Mathistad explains that knowing she’s making a difference makes the experience so much more special.

“The dedication, time, patience, and selflessness which this process requires can take so much out of you by the end of the day, but that dog will change your whole world and most importantly, you'll get to see your best friend changing someone else's.”

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45 Things Day Care Workers Say All Too Often

Toddlers are pretty much tiny, drunk people.
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Being the keeper of tiny humans can be a very interesting job. You are constantly breaking up arguments, cleaning up messes, trying to keep them safe, and telling them not to do things that are well, sometimes pretty weird. They do and say the strangest things that'll make you wonder what is really going on in their little heads.

1. "No no no, don't do *something crashes to the floor* ....that."

2. "Bubbles in your mouths every body!"

3. "No, we don't eat our friend's snack."

4. "Hands to yourself."

5. "Get off of the table before you hurt yourself."

6. "Why do we even give them spoons?"

7. "We don't put toys in our mouths"

8. "Did you wash your hands?"

9. "Where do we run? Where are we right now?"

10. "Where are your shoes?"

11. "We don't talk like that here."

12. "Go tell them you're sorry"

13. "Get your finger out of your nose"

14. "Inside voices please!"

15. "Every one find a buddy."

16. "Ew ew ew, some body get me a tissue!"

17. "How did your shoes untie already? I just tied them five minutes ago."

18. "We do nice with our hands."

19. "Oh god, it's spaghetti day."

20. "Please, do not put noodles in your hair."

21. "Hold hands until we are on the play ground!"

22. "5 little monkeys jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head..."

23. "Do you have to poop?"

24. "Well you should at least try."

25. "Why didn't you go to the potty before we went outside."

26. "If I hear "Let it go" one more time..."

27. "Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog.."

28. "Mommy and Daddy will come back, I promise."

29. "No, no biting!"

30. "She had it first, you'll just have to wait until she's done."

31. "Ew, why are you dipping everything in applesauce?"

32. "Now, are you going to eat the vegetable with the ranch or just the ranch?"

33. "Then why did you say you weren't eating snack?"

34. "Put your arms back in your sleeves."

35. *Five minutes before closing* "Where are your parents??"

36. "I finally got him to sleep, everyone be quiet."

37. *You see one eye open* "Oh no..."

38. "Wow, all your kids are still sleeping!?" (We wish we said this more often)

39. "Don't eat that, it was on the floor!"

40. "Glue the google eyes on here." *puts the eyes anywhere but there*

41. "Stop fighting over who's going to turn off the lights, you'll get a turn tomorrow."

42. "Don't shove so much food in your mouth at once, you'll choke!"

43. "Chew and swallow your food before you get up."

45. "Don't touch anything until we wash your hands!"

As weird as these small people are, they are some of the sweetest beings on the planet. And although they drive you crazy, at the end of the day, they make you love your job.


Cover Image Credit: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1223221/images/o-KIDS-MESS-facebook.jpg

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7 Reasons Why Dogs Are Necessities, Fact

If you knew how beneficial dogs truly were, you'd never have to clean a litter box again.

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Dogs are a man's best friend? More like dogs are a kid's best friend. Growing up we always had dogs, and I can undeniably say that my childhood dog(s) changed my life and gave me a few extra characteristics that have been useful in adult life.

1. They help you build responsibility

Having a dog gives you a daily responsibility to take care of. You have to clean up after it, feed it, water it, and take it outside among many other things.

2. Dogs are protective

If you're in a sticky situation and you have your dog with you, it could provide protection especially if it's trained to do so.

3. They can be useful for things outside of the house

How? Hunting! This takes a little more time and dedication, but at the end of the day it's worth it. If you've got a loyal, trained, smart, hunting dog... you probably don't need much of anything else.

4. They're loyal

People crave loyalty, attention, and love; just like dogs. Dogs also like to give those things!

5. Having a dog is bittersweet, but even more sweet than bitter

Your life revolves around work, friends, and maybe a hobby or two. Your dog's life revolves around food, when you're coming home, when you're leaving, what you're doing, and why you're doing it. Your dog is all about you, and that's why they make great support pets.

6. Dogs make fantastic mental support pets

Dogs can sense when you're sad, mad, happy, etc. When you're sad dogs naturally try to make you feel better. Aside from that, you can train/get your dog trained specifically for anxiety/depression/etc.

7. They're the BEST companions ever

Dogs will have your back through and through. You can go to eat, go on runs, go to the park, and do many other activities with dogs.

At the end of the day, dogs make a great best friend. Dogs beat cats, birds, hamsters, and any other pet you could imagine having.

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