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“Dogs are doctors and psychiatrists as well as teachers” Will Judy, 1949
As of today, it is reported that in Ocean County, where I reside, 107 young people have died of drug overdoses this year. That is a staggering figure.I know that a complex mix of factors have brought about this tragic loss of life, but I do sometimes wonder if the stressful circumstances experienced by many families here over the past year have not somehow played a part in this sorrowful trend in an effort to escape some harsh realities. That would be a matter for a mental health expert, I suppose.
I watched news coverage of drug-sniffing dogs deployed in the halls of a local Ocean County school the other night. The hope was that this would serve as a detriment for drug use, at least on school grounds. These highly trained dogs have an amazingly accurate success rate at drug detection.
Watching, I also recalled how dogs were used here after Hurricane Sandy, for the purpose of Search and Rescue, once again serving us in dark times.
As the nation recalls the terrible tragedy of Newtown, Connecticut, we find a dog connection, too. Dogs like Bocker-the-Labradoodle, have become an important part of healing and recovery for the residents of this traumatized community.
This got me to thinking. Why do we often only “bring in the dogs” after things have gone so wrong. In the cases of Ocean County and Newtown, am I naïve to think that perhaps if the care of dogs, and other pets, were part of an educational and therapeutic curriculum, perhaps there might be a decrease in mental illness, isolation, and subsequent drug use? I know there is no sure way to solve all these problems, but I think that many places, including schools, might “turn to the dogs” as they search for ways to detect and treat many who need help, but slip through the cracks, and in doing so, keeps us in the dark ages.
The following is post written by Marie Shelto, a great supporter and friend of National Dog Week. She and her lovely dog, Bocker, have always been there to lend a paw, in good times and bad. We need more of them in this world.
Thank you, Marie, and Bocker.
There has always been something very special about Bocker. Even as a very young pup, Bocker the Labradoodle pondered on where his life would lead, what was his purpose in life. Whether it was his human eyes, head tilt or calm demeanor, he was packaged with love and with the ability to make people smile. A friend wrote about him saying, “Bocker never gets his curls in a knot.” Children always comment on how big he is, but I think because he is tall, he can look the children in the eye and a certain bond is created. Bocker is very huggable and he is a great kisser. All of these attributes make him the perfect candidate for therapy work. It just seems like it is his nature and it came built in.
Young or old, whomever Bocker visits, he is able to make a lasting impression and surely brings lots of smiles. Bocker can sense if the person he is visiting wants big loving kisses or would rather he just stand next to them and provide support. He has worked as a “Tail Waggin Tutor” helping children improve their reading skills and actually help them think of reading as fun. He is invited to schools where he visits classrooms and is most happy to pose for photos and give his famous “Bocker head tilt” when smiling for the camera.
Through tragedy great friendships are born and so was the case when Bocker was asked to visit Newtown, CT after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. He was invited to the C. H. Booth Library in Newtown to have children sit with him and read their stories as well as his book, “Chasing Bocker’s Tale”. What a wonderful day. Bocker’s book is his own tale of his amazing journey and how he has touched the lives of so many throughout the world. It has now been made into a DVD for younger children and had its debut in Newtown.
After Bocker’s initial visit to Newtown, he has been invited to almost every event that goes on in the town and has developed many lasting friendships. He makes everyone smile and spreads lots of love. Now when he walks down the street, he is sure to hear someone say “That’s Bocker.” Even The Toy Tree store in Sandy Hook has a poster of Bocker, as well as selling his plush toy, book and DVD. A very lucky doodle for sure. Bocker no doubt makes a difference and that makes me very proud.
Bocker is always ready to lend a helping paw. He is very much an advocate and activist for animal rights, being the SpokesDog for NYS Animal Advocacy Day. He is also always on hand at fundraising events for shelters and rescue organizations. Yes, he has done movies, appeared on tv and in fashion ads and has friends all over the world, but his most important work is with children and in helping those less fortunate than he. I am very lucky to follow in his “paw” steps. He is definitely leading me down the right path.
@bocker on Twitter
bockerdoodle – Instagram
“So good you never knew that he was there
Until you came upon him in a nook
Beside the small gray woman as she searched
The well-known shelves for some yet unread book”
Excerpt from The Dog in the Library – attributed to Ethel King
In 1949 Will Judy declared (in capital letters) “EVERY BOY AND GIRL SHOULD GROW UP WITH A DOG AS A TEACHER.”
Following in the next paragraph, he restated the underlying message of all the National Dog Weeks he had organized and promoted, “We do not necessarily want more or better dogs; we want better dog owners.”
Will Judy clealy believed that through the care of dogs, and pets in general, children developed strong characters and learned the importance of kindness.
In that spirit, we are happy to announce that Bocker the Labradoodle will serve as “Barksperson” for the celebration of National Dog Week leading up to and during the week of September 25th . In doing so, Bocker will help to promote this year’s theme of “Every Dog a Teacher.”
Bocker is no stranger to these posts and National Dog Week. His charitable work, television and movie accomplishments and his book CHASING BOCKER’s TALE have all happily graced the walls of this blog during the past couple of years.
And remember, learning isn’t just for the young and it doesn’t only occur in academic settings or have to always be concerned with books and classrooms. We all can learn about caring and kindness through the care of pets wherever the gentle touch of a paw or a loving gaze of a well-trained (and in most cases certified) animal is allowed.
We hope you will start thinking of special ways that canines can be engaged in the process of learning during National Dog Week and beyond. Have your local library host a Read to the Dogs Event, approach your local book store to schedule readings by authors of dog books and create a display dedicated to great dog books. Maybe dogs can participate in reading programs in overlooked locations such as Assisted Living Facilities, Convalescent Homes and Hospitals. Some Therapy Dogs have served as models in art rooms, others have inspired essays in Literacy lesson plans. I am sure you can think of more ways to connect canines with education.
With the help of his mom, Bocker recently answered a few questions about his new role in the National Dog Week movement.
Bocker, how do you feel about being the official Dog Barksperson for National Dog Week?
Honored to say the least! This is a very important week and what is done during National Dog Week can help us all learn and have a better understanding of the many different things in life that create such a special bond between animals and their humans. It’s main focus of teaching responsible pet ownership, primarily the importance of spay and neuter, is key.
What do you think of this year’s theme, “Every Dog a Teacher?” Love it! We are teachers. Unconditional love, being so attuned to the feelings of those around us, making people smile and happy and relax a bit. Doesn’t every human want to learn these things?
What kinds of fun and meaningful activities would you like to see happen during NDW this September? Being a Tail Wagging Tutor, I love to read with children. I try to teach them how important reading is and that “Reading Is Fun!” Would be fun to read my book to them, too!
Bocker has also been nominated for the Hero Dog Award sponsored by the American Humane Association. You can vote for Bocker by visiting http://www.herodogawards.org/vote/?nominee=94854978
This year, National Dog Week is celebrating its 84th observance, making it a time honored tradition. As I complete my book dedicated to Captain Will Judy, the man who founded NDW in 1928 (McFarland 2013), I will continue to share how these seven days in September have shaped the way millions of Americans have thought and felt about their dogs through the decades.
Remember to LIKE our page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/National-Dog-Week/218596591491974 to keep up with all the barking!
To learn more about the work of Bocker the Labradoodle, please visit:
Thank you Bocker, we are all looking forward to some inspiring fun!
Welcome to my Blog, established to promote the message of Will Judy’s National Dog Week Movement. To learn more please see ABOUT. Be sure to visit us on Facebook and view our new page: SOMETHING’S LOST AND MUST BE FOUND to learn about a new writing project.
DON’T MISS THE EXCITING BIG PINE BARK PARK NEWS at the end of this post!
“I like a dog at my feet when I read, Whatever his size or whatever his breed.” Edgar A. Guest, American (b. England) 1881-1959
It’s National Reading is Fun Week and what could be more appropriate than a word from Bocker, the writing dog? My good friend, Bocker the Labradoodle has a tale to tell and he’s asked me to help him get the bark out…Many of you are familiar with this big blond handsome boy. I’ve written about him often. To read more about Bocker, please see my post of September 23, 2010
What is Chasing Bocker’s Tale about? Chasing Bocker’s Tale (yes play on words) is just that. Bocker’s own story. His life from his eyes. Even as a very young pup, Bocker the Labradoodle pondered on where his life would lead, what was his purpose in life. Follow Bocker’s own tale of his amazing journey and how he has touched the lives of so many throughout the world.
How is the book helping animal shelters? A major part of Bocker’s life has been lending a helping paw to those less fortunate than he is. There are so many shelters, rescue organizations, non-profits that help both animals and children in need that Bocker has always willingly supported and his support has made a difference in so many lives. We wanted these organizations to be recognized in his book so we created a section where individuals could sponsor whatever organization they supported. We are asking for a $20 donation. $10 will go directly to the organization and the other money will help us pay for the additional pages which will be added to the book. The shelter’s sponsor’s name will be listed as well as the shelter/organization’s name and contact information and website. These pages will appear in our first printing and any additional printings of the book, as well as the eBook, which will have a working hyperlink to the shelter’s website. This will help bring attention to them and hopefully more donations. More information can be found on Bocker’s website or on his Chasing Bocker’s Tale Facebook page.
Sounds very interesting. When will the book be available? We are hoping that the book will be ready for distribution mid-summer. We wanted the book to be “Bocker-Worthy” so we are taking extra steps and extra time to have it printed the way we want. The first edition will be a hard cover, collectible, limited run of 200, which will be numbered and pawtographed, and in color. There will be lots of photos because we know with Bocker, a picture is definitely worth a thousand words! When we are ready to take pre-orders, Bocker fans will even have the opportunity to choose the number book they want. We’ve already had requests to hold certain favorite numbers!
How can people obtain a copy? The book will be available online. These details are still being worked out.
What really makes this book so special? As you know Bocker has a huge following all over the world. Quite amazing! There are always so many questions about him and his life. There was just something in his eyes that said that his story should be told. There was always something very special and different about Bocker and from the beginning, it seemed that there was a reason for his existence. He brings smiles wherever he goes and we feel his story will do the same. It is special because it is life from Bocker’s eyes and because he has made an impact on so many lives and is very special to so many.
Thanks for sharing Bocker. I know how hard it is to get a book project completed, and then to let everyone know about it. But it’s worth it; with our words, we can wag the world! Make sure your favorite animal shelter is included in this worthy project!