Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Big Little Life by Dean Koontz

This book is a must read for those who love dogs.  It is a true story about Trixie, the author's family pet. Trixie was trained as a companion dog for disable, but due to an injury, she was retired early at 3 years of age.

Normally assistance dog which retired is handed over back to its puppy raiser, who is a volunteer who took over the pup from 8th week and teaches it basic commands for the next 16 months.  However, if the puppy raiser for some reason could not home the retired dog, the training center will have to find it an adoptive home.

Author Dean Koontz and his wife have been patrons of the training center for assistance dogs, thus they were offered Trixie for adoption.  It is a journey of discovery and joy for the couple when Trixie entered their lives. Trixie was an angle in the form of a golden retriever.

We get a information of how assistance dogs are trained to help different groups of folks :

- guide dogs for the visually handicap

- service dogs to help the paraplegics and quadriplegics

- skilled companions for autistic and cir du chat children

- hearing dogs for those who have hearing impairment

- facility dogs who visit rehabilitation centers, hospitals, nursing homes, classrooms for kids with developmental disorders

Selection of such dogs are very strict and those selected must have the talent, temperament and physical qualifications before they finally graduate as assistance dogs after 2 years of training. If the dog fails to make it, it is offered to the puppy raiser to home it.

Dean Koontz donates generously to the assistance dogs training center, CCI, for years before Trixie became part of his family. Royalty from those books based on Trixie goes to CCI to foot vet bills for assistance dogs whose disable owners could not afford the high expenses.

Dean Koontz is a prolific writer and a number of his books are made into movies. He writes many fictions, some in series such as Frankenstein (his interpretation of the man made monster) and Odd Thomas (who can see and help the dead).

Thus, buying is books for enjoyment is also doing a good deed in supporting the assistance dogs program.

It is a pity in Singapore, our disable friends have difficulty assessing the help of these dogs. To-date we only have 3 guide dogs. It is an expensive affair as the dog comes from Australia - the nearest training center. The disable person has to fly over to train with the dog. Then the dog and its center trainer have to be flown over to S'pore to assist the disable person to adjust for a period of time.

Why can't we set up such training center in S'pore ? After all we are the mother of all hubs. It will be good if we become the hub for assistance dogs provision in South East Asia

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