I am a volunteer who has worked as a puppy raiser/trainer and also participated in the Puppy Prison Program. The staff is knowledgeable and always willing to help when needed. They have always given me a chance to volunteer whenever I have asked and are also flexible when situations arise that require special attention. It has been an honor to help ADAI in their humanitarian efforts!
In 2003 my wife Karen was looking for a volunteer opportunity and visited ADAI for a class they were holding. At the class they had some of their dogs there including a beautiful 3 month old yellow lab named Chase. I think the trainers knew what they were doing because they let Karen hold Chase in her lap for the whole meeting. When she came home she told me how nice the meeting went and about the puppy. She said it was unfortunate that we were so busy and already had a Lab of our own or she would think about being a foster. She said she liked the organization and planned on volunteering in other capacities. A few weeks later at dinner she said one of the trainers had called her and told her that she seemed to have made a bond with Chase and that he was still available for Fostering. She knew I loved dogs, but I was not really keen about having a second dog right now. That is when I found out how serious she was. She said she would CLEAN UP ALL THE POOP FOR BOTH DOGS. I reluctantly agreed to meet the dog and she knew that was all it would take. Chase was a bit of a handful as a puppy, but with the help of the trainers Karen learned as much as he did. At the end of his two year training he had turned into a wonderful service dog and it was very hard to let him go. The only thing that got us thru it was watching the recipients bond with their new dogs and seeing that they not only received some of the physical help they needed, but a new best friend. It is truly amazing the difference the unconditional love from a dog can make to a person who needs it.
Over the past years we fostered many dogs (when I say we Karen did all the work and I had fun with them). Karen became more and more involved with the organization, helping with fund raisers, graduations, community events and more. Karen truly loved working with ADAI and the friends she made (both two and four legged).
In April of 2010 Karen was diagnosed with Lung Cancer which had spread to her brain. She had always been very healthy and it was much unexpected. It was at this time she found out once again she was not just there for ADAI, but the wonderful staff and volunteers of ADAI where there for her. They visited, sent cards, brought food, picked her up to go to the facility when she was able and much much more.
Karen would be the one writing this letter to tell you how great ADAI truly is, however she passed away on November 12, 2010. When you read this you will certainly see that writing is not something I normally do (you are lucky I at least have spell check) . It was one of the hardest letters I have ever written. It is also very important for people to know how much this organization helps people with disabilities to make their lives a little bit less challenging and happier.
ADAI has continued to offer me their kindness and support since Karen’s death and I hope that I can pay some of that back. Any support you can provide for this organization will be well used and appreciated.
Next week, our first foster dog goes into service. We are a foster home for ADAI and have found the experience to be in one word, wonderful! The staff of ADAI is always ready and able to answer questions, the recipients are so very grateful and who cannot smile when with the dogs? While we will miss Jada, we know she will be with someone who loves her and will utilize her many talents to make their everyday life so much better!
I have been involved with ADAI since 2008 when I helped with the training of my first dog, Archie, a Golden Retriever. That is when I realized how important Dogs can be in the lives of humans and the miraculous things they can be trained to do. He opened the door to a wonderful world of excitement and my desire to continue on. ADAI has high standards and strong work ethics instilled in their Service/Therapy Dogs. The dedication and drive is so recognizable the very moment you walk on premise. The staffing is like family and you are treated with so much respect and kindness. At the present our family not only works with the training end but also act as Foster Parents for the pup in training, caring for it and doing the things it needs to grow strong and healthy, at the same time building the foundation for obedience and good manners. The skills each dog possess are so gently groomed and polished. ADAI has one of the finest training programs, all managed by a fantastic working staff that unite together to bring out the best in what they stand for.
My teenaged daughter fostered 3 dogs over the last 5-6 years. While my daughter was the trainer and caregiver of the dogs, the rest of our family was involved in general day to day intereaction and caring for the dog. This volunteer experience has been an amazing opportunity for my daughter. She is by nature quiet and not comfortable around people she does not know. Volunteering forced her to talk to strangers in the public about her trainee when they ask questions when seeing the dog in public. As she became a better trainer she also has become more confident in explaining to people the purpose of her dog. Her self esteem has skyrocketed since getting involved. When one of her trainees was placed with a disabled teenage client she realized how much she had actually helped to make this girl's life a bit easier. Although my daughter and the client have only seen each other 3 times, they talk like they have known each other for years. It is clear that a special bond developed over the dog that my daughter trained and which is now part of this client's family.
The staff at ADAI is wonderful and made my daughter feel that she was an important part of the organization which made her want to do the best job she could for ADAI. ADAI provides an amazing service for its clients but I think it does just as much for its volunteers.