There is a New Dog in Town!
Ace is an 8-week-old German Shepherd mix with an important mission in life and senior volunteers, John and Jerri Cunningham are training him for that mission. They were asked by “Going Home Animal Rescue & Transportation”, Vicky McKay, if they would be interested in obedience training Ace for a therapy program the Disabled Veterans Association have to help with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder patients. John and Jerri’s background in obedience training goes way back. They were members of the Southwestern Collie Club of Tulsa where they raised, trained and showed Collies for twelve years. Their first Collie “Champ” won top scoring in obedience training.
Ace will have to undergo extensive obedience training to move on to his next level in therapy training. Accepting a friendly stranger, walking through a crowd, reacting appropriately to other animals and distractions are just some of the requirements that Ace will have to master. Ace will be given a test and when he passes, he will relocate to San Antonio where his therapy training will begin. The therapy trainer will train Ace according to a specific patient and their needs. One of the many things he will do is turn on the light before the PTSD patient wakes so it will be light in the room and the patient will realize that he is in a safe place. There will be a lot of pomp and circumstance when Ace graduates and is awarded a plaque at a prestigious ceremony. He will stay with the patient from that point on. For more info on this program, visit their website at www.operationcanine.org.
John and Jerri have also just adopted Sam, a 4-year-old German Shepherd whose owner recently died. Obedience training and dogs are just some of the things John and Jerri love. They moved to Wagoner 55 years ago and drove back and forth to their print shop on Brookside for 35 years. They were involved with the Tulsa Brookside Chamber of Commerce, downtown Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and helped organize the Brookside “Boohaha” Event. Since retiring in 2007, their lives have revolved around volunteering. They have stayed extremely active volunteering and raising money for a number of organizations including Grad Nite 2008, Wagoner Literacy, Wagoner Senior Citizens, Fort Gibson Lake Association, RSVP and Scamps. They organized and started the Farmers’ Market in Wagoner. They work elections every year at the Church of God and are very active in the stock shows at the Wagoner Show Barn. They currently work at Heritage House Antiques. Jerri says she loves to help recruit volunteers for RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) and her enthusiasm is contagious. John and Jerri will also celebrate their 54th wedding anniversary this year. They are a wonderful picture of how vital seniors are to our community and how volunteering keeps you healthy and connected to your community.