By Julia Williams
In 1980, the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted their first wish, to a 7-year-old boy undergoing treatment for leukemia. As of this writing, the renowned charity has granted more than 205,000 wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. Recently, an extraordinary therapy dog in the CANIDAE Special Achievers program helped the foundation add one more memorable wish to that impressive number.
Doc-Barker is a two-year-old Chocolate Labrador Retriever who is a registered therapy dog through Delta Society, an AKC Canine Good Citizen, and a mobility service dog for his owner, Sherry Buchbinder. Doc-Barker is also a canine ambassador for Wishes Forever, an endowment campaign through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Doc-Barker’s duties as canine ambassador include promoting the Wishes Forever endowment campaign at fundraising and community events, visiting “wish” children in hospitals, being a Grand Marshall or “celebrity guest” at pet expos, and promoting the positive impact of therapy and service dogs. Oh yes – and Doc-Barker is also a wish granter!
Sherry is a volunteer, speaker and wish granter for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Sherry’s 13-year-old nephew, Grant, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in late 2008. What Grant wanted more than anything in the world was to hold the leash of a specially trained dog like Doc-Barker. As much as she wanted to say “yes” to his request, Sherry regrettably had to say no, because being responsible for a registered service and therapy dog like Doc-Barker requires training and a title.
The more Sherry had to say no to Grant, the more determined he became. Grant’s opportunity came when the Make-A-Wish Foundation helped him become a Registered Therapy Dog Handler for Ambassador Doc‐Barker. Grant knew Sherry wouldn’t be able to say “no” if he was official, so he spent 12 weeks studying and training. With the help of his canine partner Doc-Barker, Grant passed the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Test. He also completed a “Pet Partners” team training course, skills test and aptitude test administered in accordance with the Delta Society’s regulations. Grant and Doc-Barker passed with flying colors!
Grant then traveled to Phoenix, Arizona for the 4th annual Wags for Wishes fundraiser and his official wish day. (Wags for Wishes is a festival for the whole family that includes dog competitions, pet adoptions and fun entertainment). This unforgettable weekend was filled with lots of surprises and celebrations for Grant, whose inspirational story had touched everyone at the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Grant shared the story of his brain tumor diagnosis, his struggles and the opportunity Make‐A‐Wish had given him to finally get that “yes” from Sherry. CANIDAE Pet Foods representative Laura Etchison was on hand for the wish presentation and to name Grant an honorary member of “Team CANIDAE.”
The last formality needed to make Grant’s wish come true was to finally hear the words “yes” when he asked to hold Doc‐Barker’s leash. Grant was asked to remove Doc‐Barker’s vest signifying his duty as a service dog and replace it with his new Pet Therapy vest, embroidered with the wish date. Grant tied the green Delta Society bandanna around Doc‐Barker’s neck, took the leash from Sherry and got his wish at last!
For the remainder of the day, Grant and Ambassador Doc-Barker welcomed visitors to the Make‐A‐Wish booth and strolled out on their first adventure together. It was the first of many fun times this team will share. Grant’s determination not only helped him battle his brain tumor, but empowered him to go after a dream and to finally see it come true on this memorable day.
To learn more about Ambassador Doc‐Barker, visit his fan page on Facebook.
Read more articles by Julia Williams
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.