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judges 2011


Entry Category Emerging Hero Dogs
Charity Partner Pine Street Foundation (Canine Cancer Detection)
Location Royal Oak, Michigan


Rudolph is a 7 year old miniature dachshund, born blind and deaf. After being bounced from home to home, I adopted him because I had a sense that, given patience, socialization and training, his life could have incredible relevance. After naming him Rudolph because his nose guides him in his dark world, and because children would relate to the reindeer story, I developed a program where Rudolph visits elementary school children. Rudolph's presence and affection for the children help to teach them that his physical challenges don't interfere with his ability to be a fun and loving pet. And Rudolph accenuates this point as he both snuggles with the kids and demonstrates his obedience following different touches on his body.

Children learn to focus on the essence of Rudolph, not the initial appearance of Rudolph. That lesson is then transferred to people, i.e. how we look beyond that wheelchair, for example, and find the sense of humor, the companionship, the fun, and all we hope for in a friendship. The school visits are designed to work with children on sensitivities towards people with physical challenges, towards people who are different from others, and to further discuss teasing and bullying. No child wants Rudolph to be teased, nor should they want that with their fellow classmates. Rudolph has carried these messages in hundreds of classrooms, thousands of children.

Note regarding the photo: I could not use a classroom photo because special permission for the usages could not be obtained.

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