Janice Wolfe of Wyckoff, New Jersey, has a mission to “save two lives at a time.” Known as the New Jersey Dog Whisperer, Janice, through her organization Merlin’s Kids rescues dogs from shelters, rehabilitates them and then trains them to work as service dogs for children who have special needs, like those with autism spectrum disorder.
Janice explains that many of these very special dogs were moments away from losing their lives at shelters. Now with her help, they bring joy and assistance to families who are grateful for that dog’s presence in their lives. Through her work, Janice gives these dogs and so many deserving families a second chance.
According to this Dog Whisperer, Rhodesian Ridgebacks make excellent Assistance Dogs. She would know as she has bred them for twenty-three years. Originally bred to hunt Lions in Africa, and protect women and children, Ridgebacks, Janice explains, are intelligent and perceptive dogs whose sturdy physiques (80-90 pounds) make them perfect for service work.
Janice’s own “Rhodie,” Wyatt, is a case in point. Janice says she knew Wyatt was special from the moment he was born, possessing, “amazing energy.” Now two, Wyatt accompanies Janice as she travels to homes to help families in need. Wyatt, also known as Ch. Rambo’s Gunfight at the OK Corral JC, was the recipient of this year’s American Kennel Club’s prestigious ACE Award (Award for Canine Excellence) in the Service Category. This Thursday, Wyatt will be officially recognized by the AKC with an award presentation in New York City.
What makes Janice’s work so remarkable is that the services she provides are free of charge, and she will also work with established family dogs to utilize a pet’s natural, untapped ability to help. Janice sees canines as a prescription with fur and four legs explaining a dog can provide the help that “No pill, no medicine, no human can.”
In 1928 Will Judy reached out to the dog owners of the nation, asking them to look at dogs as spiritual beings with great helping capacities. In doing so, he declared that the last full week of September be reserved to honor our dogs, starting the National Dog Week Movement. Today, people like Janice Wolfe embody his message. Janice says that we, as dog lovers, must reach out to those individuals that still do not understand the true potential of the dog.
Dogs and their humans can meet Janice at Dog Fest on Sunday, September 19th at Windward Park Beach in Brick Township (Ocean County) from 11am-4pm. There will also be pet-related vendors and demonstrations by the Brick K-9 Unit, as well as local therapy and service dog organizations.
To read more about Janice’s work, she has published a book, titled, There’s Hope! co-written by Mark German, Assistant Director of Canine Rehabilitation and Certification at Merlin’s Kids. It is available through www.merlinskids.org or www.USPetExpress.org. Janice is also completing a second book for which Temple Grandin, a friend and colleague, has written the Foreword. According to Janice, “Temple is more excited about Wyatt’s ACE Award than her own Emmy!”
As a writer, and lover of dogs, I am excited for all of them and hope that someday the value of their work is fully realized by the American public.
New Jersey’s Dog Whisperer
“The Lady” Dog Whisperer
Merlin’s Kids Founder