Animal Hall of Fame Winners
2019 Inductee: Max, Search and Rescue Dog
Eight-year-old Belgian Malinois Max loves to help people. More specifically, he and his owner Martin Wendels love to help find missing people. As a search and rescue (SAR) dog, Max has participated in numerous rescues in the Central Valley including the Camp Fire in Northern California where he worked under extreme circumstances for seven days until his foot was lacerated from the debris.
Max is a trained trailing and cadaver dog. He and Martin are the only civilian search and rescue team the Fresno Police Department uses. They routinely volunteer their time to assist with numerous missing person cases.
Max and Martin are also part of Yosemite Park’s dedicated team of SAR handlers and dogs, nicknamed YODOGS. They help with not only incidents but also with the park’s preventative SAR program. In 2017 during the Thanksgiving holiday, Max successfully tracked a potentially suicidal person to the edge of a viewpoint in the area.
During a winter storm in Yosemite in February 2018, Max worked in very cold and snowy conditions to help with the search for a backpacker leading to a successful rescue.
Max has helped numerous agencies and groups find loved ones, and even under extreme conditions, he continues his efforts. He is an outstanding example of the human-animal bond and a very welcome inductee into the California Animal Hall of Fame.
2018 Inductee: Richochet, Therapy Dog
Owner: Judy Dridono
Nominating Organization: ABC Veterinary Hospital
Ricochet has a special gift. Not only can she surf, but she provides therapy to people with disabilities by providing connection through her sport. Although she was first slated to be a service dog for a person with a disability, she found her true calling as a SURFice© Dog, working with adaptive surfing organizations and special needs children. In addition, she has more than two years of service dog training and over eight years of experience working with individuals with disabilities. She is a registered therapy dog and is involved with the Emotional Support Dog Program.
There is no shortage of testaments from people Ricochet has helped. She has provided therapeutic assistance to returning military personnel readjusting to civilian life, including a combat veteran with PTSD and who barely spoke; she has helped children with special needs come out of their shell and be social; and she has even taught them to surf, not an easy task!
As described by her owner, Judy Fridono, “There is a strong bond between Ricochet and the people she interacts with that defies present day scientific understanding. She not only provides affection, loyalty, and security, but she knows what each individual needs and she delivers it. She balances boards AND lives!”
2017 Inductee: Hudson, Therapy Dog
Owner: Bob Schultze
Nominating Organization: Helen Woodward Animal Center
In 2008, when Bob Schultze first met his dog Hudson, he was unsocialized, wary/aggressive toward strangers and other dogs, and had a severe heartworm infection. Despite his issues, Bob still adopted him. With time, training, and love, Hudson thrived and passed his Canine Good Citizen test in February 2012; was certified for pet encounter therapy (PET) in 2013; and has made over 150 therapy visits to 20 facilities in San Diego County including nursing facilities, memory care units, the VA hospital, and even a school for homeless children since then.
Hudson’s temperament is very gentle and patient and he can stir reaction from even the most unresponsive clients. He is described as a star wherever he goes and that he shines the brightest with clients that can’t respond with more than a small touch. One of many examples that highlights his therapeutic capabilities was with a client in hospice that had not been responsive for more than three weeks. His family had asked Bob to help. Bob placed Hudson next to their father and Hudson laid his head on the man’s hand. Soon the man started to pet him and kept petting him for the rest of the visit. The man’s response made his family cry and they were overjoyed that he was able to find comfort with Hudson.
Another example of Hudson’s therapeutic touch involves a client that spends most of his days in a wheelchair with little movement. While the way he is positioned in the wheelchair makes it difficult for other therapy dogs to reach him, it is no problem from Hudson. Hudson will gently mold his body to the man’s in his reclining chair and will lean in to share his warmth. The man’s usually labored breathing will start to ease and his muscles relax.
Hudson’s loving nature despite having been given up and his service as a therapy dog, exemplifies the importance of the human-animal bond. After his rescue, his body and spirit were made whole and he is now giving back one PET visit at a time.
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