Fundraiser planned for service dog at The Grove at St. Vincent College
When Holly Clark of Youngstown got her now-six-year-old Pomeranian, Teddy, as a puppy, he was attentive enough to notice her sleeping disorder even without training.
Teddy can notice when Clark stops breathing while she sleeps and demonstrated his skill when he was a few months old and her husband watched him climb on her and nudge her chest.
“My husband said, ‘No, that can't be right,' ” Clark said.
For years, Teddy has served as an alert and mobility service dog after training more than 120 hours during six months, but needs help of his own.
The dog has a collapsed trachea, which affects his breathing and eventually could cause him to choke to death without a surgical implant to keep his airway open. “It would be near-impossible to find another dog like him,” Clark said of the pair's special relationship. “I can't replace him.”
Clark has held a few yard sales to help pay for the surgery, which could cost up to $3,800, but a local business owner has come to her aid in hopes of covering the total cost and rewarding Teddy's years of service to Clark.
After a chance meeting between Clark and Jeanean Smith, owner of Jioio's Restaurant on Route 981 in Unity, Smith offered to hold a spaghetti dinner fundraiser to help with Teddy's veterinary bills.
“Just look at him,” Smith said, referring to the big eyes and wide smile of the fluffy dog.
Smith, who has three dogs, two birds and miniature horses, has donated to animal rescue organizations, but this will be the first fundraiser she has organized.
The spaghetti dinner benefit, planned for Oct. 20, will include food donated from DeLallo Foods as well as other items and raffle baskets donated by other local businesses.
Clark said Teddy, in otherwise perfect health, could live another 10 years if he gets the surgery, but without it, she isn't sure when the next breathing attack will occur.
“You can hear him taking in air, but it's not going in,” she said. “His eyes will get big, his lips will get blue, his tongue will turn blue; it's very debilitating.”
Clark said she tries her best to help him recover from an attack, including keeping him calm and massaging his throat.
“There's nothing much you can do but ride it out,” she said.
Clark said Teddy is one of only a few Pomeranian service dogs and only a small number that have the acute sense to alert of sleep disorders.
She is unable to use a machine to regulate her breathing at night, so Clark is nudged by Teddy enough to continue breathing properly, but gently enough to remain sleeping.
Clark visited a training school in Tennessee where handlers have worked with pugs to do similar work, but none have the inherent skill like Teddy does.
“None of them have the same intensity he has,” she said.
The dog owner hopes to educate the public about the roles of service dogs, including combatting the prevailing notion that only German shepherds or Labrador retrievers can be trained.
With federal regulations, service dogs like Teddy are allowed anywhere the public is allowed to go and they are working dogs, different from pets.
“They don't behave like a pet, they have one job in mind,” she said.
She said while Teddy is a mild-mannered service dog that has passed training tests dealing with people in streets, restaurants and other public environments, he acts like a Pomeranian when “off-duty.”
“Take off his harness and let him outside, and he'll chase a chipmunk,” Clark said.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Latrobe freshman’s Eagle Scout’s veterans memorial inspired by grandfather
- Latrobe’s Rossi Field shines as host of WPIAL football playoffs
- Greater Latrobe, Derry Area, Ligonier Valley officials weigh latest state statistics