By Ruth Drew
The Akron All Breed Training Club (Ohio) hosted the 8th Annual Hounds For Hattie on Saturday, October 3. Twenty-two club members and about 25 dogs (many sizes and breeds, mostly therapy dogs) welcomed approximately 50 residents and staff from the Hattie Larlham Group Homes for a day of fun with dogs!
About Hounds for Hattie
Hounds for Hattie was started by Becky and Rachel Park. One woman that the Parks visited at the Hattie Larlham Group Homes in Akron, Ohio especially loved dogs and fancied herself a dog trainer. She'd put the dogs through their paces and give them obedience commands like sit, stay, down, come and heel. Soon Akron All Breed Training Club members Trish Miller and Ruth Drew were also taking their dogs to join in the visits so one dog wouldn't be so exhausted at the end of the hour.
House managers told club members that many people at the other group homes would also enjoy working with the dogs and Hounds for Hattie evolved from there. One year, one resident made her entire house late because she didn't want to come and she was afraid of dogs. When she left, she was smiling and calling out "I'll see you next year!" Now we hear she's the first one in the van each year.
This year an administrator told us she's getting many requests from staff to work on Saturday, so they can come to Hounds For Hattie. Staff love seeing their residents in a different light. The residents are happier, and calmer, and those happy smiles make it all worthwhile!
8th Annual Hounds for Hattie
At this year's event, a "Dog Parade" kicked off the festivities, and then some returning guests were designated as "Judges" to pick out which dogs were the best trained, cutest, fastest, slowest, and more. Each member introduced their dog breed then performed a trick or two. An agility demo followed including weaves and a tire jump which were requested by the residents.
"Pinkee" the Clown and her Pug performed magic tricks, and residents held hula hoops and other props for the dogs to do special tricks. Finally, everyone was invited to clap along or dance as Pinkee and her dogs danced to Rockin' Robin. Residents were invited into the ring to "train a dog" and have them follow basic obedience commands or perform an obstacle on the agility course, an activity favored by the residents. They remembered which dog they "trained" last year and had plans which dog to train this year! Residents had pictures taken with the dog or dogs of their choice.Lunches and awards followed for great judges, trainers or good friends to dogs. The Akron All Breed Training Club members were happy that they could share their love for canine companions and make some special memories for some very special people. It is always a very magical, fun-filled day.