Welcome to Project Delta’s very first, We’re Better Together Newsletter. As founder, I’m dedicated to keeping all of our supporters up to date on our progress. In a matter of six months, Project Delta went from a dream to incorporation, to an initial fundraising event, and to our first team pairing.
We are blessed with an amazing group of like-minded people willing to give so much of themselves to assist both our veterans in need and our shelter/rescue dog population. Join me as we celebrate the many successes and follow our Service Dog Teams from pairing to training, then on to graduation and beyond.
The newsletter will enable you to get to know Project Delta team members, highlight volunteers, and inform you of upcoming events. I thank you for your patience as we continue to learn the most efficient and effective ways to serve our brave veterans. We are proud to take all the steps necessary to provide them the tools to achieve a fulfilling and purposeful life. And what a better partner to assist in this process… an amazing dog.
SERVICE-DOG TEAM UPDATES:
Meet Sam and Tank
I would like to introduce to you our first Project Delta team. Meet Sam and his service dog in training, “Tank”.
Tank began his life as Gulliver, coming from Oklahoma, and was prescreened as a candidate at the Animal Humane Society of Golden Valley, MN on November 16, 2016. Beginning the very next day, Sam and Tank began their journey together, both a bit unsure about how this was all going to play out. But it was clear after only a few short weeks, these two were developing an inseparable bond. Tank quickly has shown his focus, loyalty and quick ability to learn basic and advanced skills.
Currently, our trainer, Lindsay, has the team training in public. This is a huge milestone because it identifies the team’s strengths and pinpoints areas in need of work. Sam and Tank are both demonstrating a new found confidence. This confidence is setting the stage for a purposeful life, full of endless possibilities and goal attainment. Sam and Tanks training consists of a combination of skills necessary for the Canine Good Citizen certification along with the ability to navigate public places (this is permitted by the American Disabilities Act). Sam has stated on multiple occasions how his anxiety level has diminished by simply having Tank at his side.
I hope you will return to our newsletter to follow Sam and Tanks progress along with additional Project Delta teams.
Summerfest 2016 Memories
We want to thank all who came out to support Project Delta, Inc.’s first fundraiser, SummerFest 2016. The event was a huge success and a lot of fun for all. We kicked off the evening with a roundtable discussion regarding the benefits of service dogs for veterans with PTSD, TBI and MST. This chat was moderated by Andrew Lee and Sam Sansevere of Twin Cities News Talk. Closing out the event was a special treat as the Chris Hawkey Band played to a room full of fans.
The event raised $15,000 and allowed us to create our first veteran/dog team. Not only do we here at Project Delta want to thank everyone who donated so generously, but Sam and Tank thank you as well. Your generous support is helping change lives. We look forward to our second annual Summerfest event coming this summer.
SPOTLIGHT-OUR HELPING HANDS:
(Senior Service-Dog-Team Trainer)
Hi! I’m Lindsay, the lead Service-Dog Team trainer for Project Delta. I was asked by Patti to tell our supporters about myself.I have a hilarious, charming, and supportive husband named Ryan. Just when I thought he couldn’t get any better, we welcomed our first son, Hank. Being parents together has been the best journey so far! My son is eight months old and LOVES dogs. We knew it would be important that he at a minimum tolerated them, seeing as they are such a huge part of our lives. To my delight (although not to my surprise) he lights up whenever a dog just walks by him. The first time we got him to laugh was when our lab dropped a ball at his feet. My hobbies include anything dog related. Fostering, volunteering at rescue-based events, or simply playing fetch with our labs in the back yard. I also find joy in relaxing and watching documentaries (although I usually don’t advertise that) and sitting down with great friends.
I have worked in a clinic setting for 11 years as a Veterinary Assistant. Eight years ago, I began teaching puppy class, and my passion for training was “unleashed.” Three years ago I earned my certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). For those three years, I have taken on individual clients and their companion animals, working on anything from separation anxiety to fear aggression. I feel very strongly about the use of positive reinforcement techniques when practicing behavior modification.
Two things first told me I needed to be a part of Project Delta. First and foremost was Patti Robinson’s devotion and raw passion for the mission. I was, and still am, inspired by her energy. The second was the realization that I could make use of my passion for giving back to the men and women that fought to make my life and the way I live it possible. To even further solidify my career change was witnessing the first team pairing. Words can not describe that moment. Watching the immediate bond between a homeless dog and “their person” was simply life-changing.
I hope to bring Project Delta an inspiring, understanding, and compassionate role to the dog training side of the mission. When working with our teams, I hope to expand on the traditional role of trainer. This role is a multifaceted relationship, and I aim to support my teams on many levels.
What brings me the most joy and excitement while training service dog teams are witnessing the breakthrough moments. Some small and many huge breakthroughs, but all important. I have been known to be extremely vocal and celebratory during these moments. Watching the handler and dog connect and “get it” well, there is just nothing like it!
I think my funniest training story involves a 100+ pound Bernese Mountain Dog, named Walter. This event occurred early in my training career, and as I mentioned, I have strong feelings regarding the use of positive reinforcement. This dog would NOT walk on a leash. He would sit in protest, and his owner could do nothing about it. She would often be stranded in the middle of her walks, multiple blocks away, in tears, and would have to call her partner to come and pick them up. After ruling out all possible physical ailments, we started a training regiment of monstrous proportions. Using every trick in the book, even reaching out to many colleagues in the field, I felt this was a failed mission. I worked with Walter for five months. No luck. One day I casually mentioned this to a veterinarian who is known for some “old school” techniques in medicine. An amazing doctor, but nobody I thought to talk with about training issues, and certainly not this issue. He calmly said, “what happens if you pull on the leash, give it a good tug?” I laughed. I was up all night thinking about this. I called Walter’s owner the next morning. I asked to see him one more time. Sure enough, with a pull on the leash and a stern “let’s go” he trotted alongside me. You have got to be kidding me. Needless to say, I have come a long way since the early days, and I’ve learned that sometimes the answer is almost too easy, and without an open mind, will often be missed.
Or this one!! I like this one best….
I often work with dogs that are very fearful and therefore aggressive. Many of my clients have this problem when guests enter their home. To diagnose the root of the issue, I need to see how the dog reacts if the visitor ignores them. Often a dog’s fear is triggered by the persons’ reaction to the situation (i.e. screaming, jumping, running, etc.). This observation will help me design the best treatment plan for the dog. The problem is this, who’s willing to be this guinea pig? Who will walk into a home with an 85-pound growling German Shepherd, and simply ignore them? Enter…my husband. Ryan has helped me with many fear aggression cases, and I am forever grateful. I give him strict instructions: 1) Ring the bell, greet the family, shake hands, etc. 2) DO NOT look at the dog, gesture towards the dog and act like there is no dog.
We entered the home of Duke, the 85 pound German Shepherd. Duke followed suit by barking, growling and even nose punched my husband. Ryan did awesomely, and so did Duke. Within 10 minutes, Ryan was asking Duke for “sits,” giving treats and even a chin scratch. Duke’s family was in tears. They never thought this was possible.
The second the front door closed behind us, and we were on their porch, Ryan let out an “AHHHHHHHHH!!!” Apparently, Duke had nose punched him right where it counts. Ryan knew, at that moment, he had to fight every urge to double over, scream and probably say a few choice words. His safety and my treatment plan depended on it.
Thank you for making it possible for us to serve the very deserving veterans and dogs of Project Delta.