Memorial: The Rainbow Bridge

I am going a long way

Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow

Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies

Deep meadowed, happy, fair with orchard lawns

And bowery hollows crowned with summer sea…..

 ~ A. Lord Tennyson – 1850 ~

Jetta, Canine partner of Chris Spaetzel
2009 – 2014

I truly believe Jetta lived by the saying, It’s not the amount of time you have on earth, it’s what you do with the time you have. Jetta lived a short 5 1/2 years but did amazing things in that time. She was a black lab mix, rescue who came to our family at the age of 8 weeks. Immediately upon getting Jetta I knew she had great things planned for us. She loved being around people and especially loved Jettachildren. Jetta became a therapy dog at the age of 2 and joined HOPE at the age of 3 1/2.

Jetta attended many safety fairs, public speaking engagements, camps, open houses, Red Cross educational events, and memorial services. We were honored to attend the 9-11 Ten Year Remembrance and Healing Ceremony in New York City. We visited our local hospital regularly where Jetta especially loved the pediatric unit. She was active at our church, attending services regularly and visiting
families who stayed at our church as part of the Interfaith Hospitality Network. One of her favorite places to visit was Camp Imagine,a local camp for children with special needs. Jetta was able to connect with many of the children because she suffered from epilepsy. The children knew she was special just as they were. Parents of the children would tell me it was the most amazing thing to witness their children with Jetta. Until Jetta, some of these children had never been able to be in a room with a dog let alone sit with, brush, pet or hug a dog.

Jetta also helped our own daughter through a traumatic event when she lost three of her sorority sisters in a horrific car accident. Jetta visited the families of two of her friends who survived the accident but were hospitalized a very long time.

Our last event together was two days before Jetta passed away from a seizure. The event was our local Big Trucks/Safety Fair. Jetta greeted hundreds of people at this event and left a wonderful impression of what HOPE dogs are all about!

Our dear, sweet Jetta will be missed terribly by our family, friends, neighbors and all those she has touched in her life.

Gracie, Canine partner of Claudine Singer
2003 – 2013

Gracie accomplished a lot in her 10 years with us. Rescued in 2003, her sweet disposition was a tell tale sign that she was meant to become a Therapy Dog. She certified with Pet Partners in 2005 and learned her healing role and worked as a Gracie Singer 2 substitute when Clifford was resting. Clifford, AKA The Big Red Dog, was my first Therapy and Crisis Response dog. Working as a therapy dog, Gracie wore with pride, a little cap made especially for her, and soon became known as “Nurse Gracie”. Our visits always started in the parking lots as she seemed to be a glowing magnet. Everybody wanted to meet the sweet nurse with the golden fur.

In 2007, she continued to follow in Clifford’s paw steps and we became a Crisis Response canine team. She so loved to meet people and she greeted them with such enthusiasm, it triggered a beautiful sway of her hips – our hula girl!

Gracie had a passion for swimming and welcomed her friends who came by to take a dip or to get a swimming lesson from her and Clifford. She was also well known for pacing the pool back and forth as humans swam laps. She was a natural lifeguard and stayed on the job until everyone was out of the pool. What a gift to us all.

Gracie was a quiet comfort to everyone she came in contact with during her career with HOPE. She was truly magical! In August she was diagnosed with a brain stem tumor, too deep to be surgically removed. It was then count-down time. We always hope for miracle cures, but unfortunately those odds were not in her favor. We will miss her profoundly.

Janie, Canine partner of Amy Rideout
1997 – 2013

Some people say, “it’s just a dog,” well, here are some differences that this very special dog has made in people’s lives:

Janie in New Orleans, 2005

Janie in New Orleans

– Our very first therapy visit, as we were walking out the door not knowing if we would come back to the nursing home again, a woman at the door said, “thank you for coming today – you made my day.” A corner in my life was turned. A life of service had begun, as the joy of giving back was discovered.

– In NYC after 9/11 – a relief worker at the family assistance center gave Janie a big hug and said, “thank you, I needed that before going back to work.” Next to a man sitting alone with his head in his hands – Janie laid on the floor next to him, and we just sat there with him, not saying a word. In a few minutes, he just reached out to pet her – and a bridge connecting him back to someone to talk to was gracefully made.

– At a deployment briefing for Marines and their families – getting a stressed little guy in the kids room who wouldn’t talk to anyone to start talking and playing.

– At a disaster recovery center in New Orleans after Katrina, taking two crying young ones from their mom, so she could get the information about the services the family needed. The 2 year old sat in my lap and stopped crying to stare with big eyes at Janie, and her 4 year old brother, acting sad and shy – settled in to ‘teach’ Janie new tricks. A relieved mom came back to us to, “mommy, mommy, look what I can do!” Her gratitude and relief was clearly evident as she offered her thanks. A security guard who gave us a hard time on arrival to that site witnessed the magic our partners do, and almost everywhere the HOPE AACR teams went after that, we found they had called ahead to their co-workers to let them know to help us get through security and in to the FEMA centers.

– At Virginia Tech – being a source of comfort to the teachers who were especially affected by the tragedy on their campus.

– At Operation Purple camps for military kids with deployed parents – she helped so many kids come out of their shell and join in the activities with others who share a very unique and strong bond. For over 20 minutes, one little guy could not be consoled by two mental health professionals – but Janie had his mind off mom leaving him at summer camp and was introducing her to the other kids within just a few minutes. No more tears, just a puffed up little guy who was now the cool kid and showing the others what he could do with Janie.

Janie helped many, many people in the isolation of crisis connect back to the people who were there to help them, and helped me connect with so many. She was a very special gift. A stray that walked in to a bar in Virginia Beach and ended up with me. I will always be grateful she came in to my life – and for how she changed my life.

– Amy

Brinkley, Canine partner of Bill and Deborah Hatherley


Brinkley was a “once in a lifetime” dog that graced our lives and we were so blessed to have been by his side all those years.  While he died at a relatively young 9 years of age, he had accomplished much, especially while wearing his HOPE vest.

Brinkley at Virginia Tech (2007)

Those that saw him in action knew of his boundless energy and his immense positive effect on people affected by disaster.  His mother was able to detect seizures in their family’s child and we believe Brinkley had a similar ability to identify and respond to people under stress.

As a HOPE dog, we learned to let him lead us as he identified people needing his comfort.  His smile was infectious and he would mold his body around those he interacted with, enlisting interaction and smiles from the recipients.  One of his first HOPE callouts was to Hurricane Katrina where he interacted with people that had been through major trauma.  We spent a many days there over the 2005 Christmas holiday and he interacted with hundreds of people.  Perhaps the most demanding events occurred when he was on a cruise ship, docked in New Orleans and used to house police and their families.  At one point he was surrounded by 18 children yelling and screaming for his attention.  He handled it well, but immediately afterward we gave him a break.  We learned a valuable lesson about managing our clients and protecting our animals.

He worked many HOPE events and drills, helping to get the word out on the work our organization does.  Brinkley was instrumental in helping to establish the Southeast Region of HOPE when it was being formed.  He attended countless meetings and events with local groups including Happy Tails, Delta Pet Partners, CERT, Red Cross, the Alpharetta Public Service Department, VOAD, military, state, county and local events.  He helped with open houses, screenings and workshops.  There were callout opportunities when he worked his magic.  He spent many days at VA Tech after the shooting and he also went to another student shooting at Mid-Atlantic Christian University in North Carolina.  He responded after many tornados and wildfires in southeast GA.  He has been featured in newspapers and magazine articles and he has been seen on TV from CNN and Telemundo, and other stations from Brazil, Korea, Great Britain, and Germany.  An article was published in the American Red Cross Newsletter as a tribute to the work he has contributed to the Red Cross.

Brinkley adapted well to having two handlers, so he had many opportunities and was a real champion for people.  He never hesitated to make friends and leave his positive, gentle and heartwarming mark.  He was a wonderful ambassador for HOPE and he will be remembered with great reverence.  We love you Brinkley.  Thank you for sharing your life with us.

Tikva, Canine partner of Deborah and Bill Hatherley

On April 26 Bill and Deborah Hatherley, and HOPE for that matter, lost a member of our family. Tikva, aka “Tickles”, passed away. She was an 11-year-old golden retriever and had been a member of HOPE for 9 years. She helped start the Southeast region and over the many years she attended numerous HOPE callouts and events. She was an active ambassador for the organization and she represented HOPE wonderfully on many, many occasions. In the past year, she attended meetings with Red Cross, VOAD and emergency managers and other county and state disaster leaders, as well as FEMA and GEMA officials. She also attended HOPE’s annual meeting in South Carolina and most recently, in her last callout opportunity, she was traveling to Tennessee to assist people affected by the Brussels bombing when that callout was called off at the last minute. As with all HOPE dogs, she was active in therapy work and often performed 40-50 visits a year. And finally, she was a wonderful, loving little girl who was an integral part of our family. She will be dearly missed. We should mention that we adopted the name Tikva in honor and respect for Cindy Elhers’ original HOPE dog that was at 911. We loved the fact the name means “hope” in Hebrew. We believe our little girl certainly added to the positive legacy of the name Tikva in HOPE. As dog people, I am sure all of us have suffered through similar circumstances, losing a dear friend, as have we. We understand the drill and accept it, but it is still so hard. We know she will be joining her brother Brinkley and many other former HOPE dogs, running freely and without pain in great, green fields. We thank HOPE for the opportunities that we have had in this great organization. We cherish the many visits and “starfish stories” we were able to be a part of.

Cinder, Canine partner of Pam Bertz, PSW
1999 – 2012

“Cinder was born to be a Therapy and Crisis Response Team member as she is a natural for this work and is totally engaging,” says Lois Abrams (Psychologist, CERT member, Therapy & Crisis Response Team member with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Duke & Romeo), and for awhile was part of the Huntington Beach CERT Canine Crisis Response Team, attending most of the CERT classes for 2 years. For 9 years as a Therapy Dog, she brought comfort, support, smiles, laughs, and compassion to those in the communities she visited. At Youth Shelters she helped kids cope with their emotions after being taken from their homes for one reason or another; at Hoag Hospital she helped patients and their families take their minds off their pain and concerns; seniors at the Sunrise Senior complex and the Alzheimer’s Day Care Center in Huntington Beach enjoy reminiscing and just getting a little non-judgmental love. And while attending CERT classes with her mom, Pam, she helped 2 CERT trainees get over their fear of dogs, and last year helped teach the CERT Pet Preparedness class. On another occasion she accompanied her mom to court (on request of a Judge in Newport) and was put to work by that Judge, she helped a distraught defendant get over her nervousness of being in court – a job she accomplished in 10 minutes of quiet compassion. She remained in the courtroom for the morning where she was available to stand beside others having a difficult time. She also helped children and their parents deal with the loss of a loved one at Kid’s Grief Camps sponsored by the New Hope Grief Support Group for 3 years.

As a HOPE Crisis Response dog for 7 years she has brought comfort, support and compassion to those affected by a tragedy, crisis, or disaster. These have included many “fire camps” providing firefighters and camp workers with a feeling of home and thanking them for their efforts; five “Line of Duty” memorials; victims of crisis’ such as the Meritage Salon shooting in Seal Beach, and to children after a campus shooting at Kelly Elementary School in Carlsbad; teenagers experiencing the “Every 15 Minutes” programs in high schools in Fountain Valley, Temecula, Murrieta, Corona, Riverside, and San Bernardino; and just recently participated in the UC Irvine Campus’ “Take Back the Night,” giving comfort to all those who attended; and so much more.

Cinder continued to be an ambassador for canine therapy and showing how these dogs can work their magic in all kinds of situations. At the UCI Child Development Center, they are conducting a 4 year study to learn whether pet therapy can help children with ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) improve their social skills and control their symptoms. “Cinder, a golden retriever with a sweet face and slow gait, reclines on a dog bed at the UC Irvine Child Development Center as, one by one, half a dozen 8- and 9-year-olds deliver pats and hugs. One boy puts his arms around her in a warm embrace; another gently curls up at her side. From behind a two-way mirror, center director Sabrina Schuck watches closely. “All of these kids have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. They’re an aggressive group. A couple of them are at risk of suspension from their school,” she says. “Yet they’re calm and engaged.” The reason, she says, is Cinder — and other therapy dogs.” (Quoted from the Zot Zine, UCI’s Online Magazine).  The study consists of twice weekly skills classes for 12 weeks. There are two 12 week sessions each year, with new students each time. The prior students are followed to see if the progress they have made continues (and so far it has). The skills consist of sitting still for periods of time during the lessons being taught, not rocking or “surfing” their chairs, raising their hands to answer a question or participate – without calling out, working together in groups, using “nice sayings” and encouraging their classmates, controlling their anger or disappointment, and paying attention and staying on task. The more of these skills they can perform or use during the class, they are rewarded with individual time with the dogs (3 for each 12 week session). They also have regular reading and journal writing sessions with the dogs. Also part of the program has the kids “teach” the dogs commands like sit, down, stay and come. The dogs don’t always respond to the commands on the first try, which teaches patience and helps the kids understand what their parents feel when they do not do what their parents have asked. “The (dogs) take down the children’s defenses,” Schuck says. “Those who have social challenges can relate to them. “(A) Mission Viejo resident whose son, Dillon, is in the study, says there has been a marked improvement in his behavior. ‘It’s had an amazing effect, she says. He’s able to sit still more, and he’s easier to control. He’s definitely calmed down a lot. And he’s more assertive in class. His voice is stronger.’ Dillon has also gone from disliking dogs to adoring them, his mother reports, and he looks forward to the sessions rather than dreading them.” (Id. Zot Zine) (Note: many ADHD kids are on medication to help control their behaviors, however, none of the children in this study are on medication.)

A CERT-ified thank you goes out to Cinder, a four-legged, furry “Community” Emergency (Crisis) Response & Therapy Team canine, says the Huntington Beach CERT Newletter.

She also loved to travel and see new things. She got to experience the grandeur of Yellowstone Park, Yosemite, and Mammoth with her sister Gina, who passed in January. She also loved to go to Colorado in the mountains where she & Gina could run off leash, swim in the lake, visit with the horses, and hang out at night around the campfire.
We will miss your kind and loving spirit.

Gina, Canine partner of Pam Bertz, PSW
1999 – 2012

The beloved companion and Therapy dog of Pam Bertz and HOPE & Therapy dog for handler Noreen Yoshida-Peer.She was our sweet little girl, who overcame so many obstacles. She was abused and left in the desert and found her way to a shelter, where we were fortunate to find her at 1 1/2 yrs. old. She was deathly afraid of men and most sudden movements. But she overcame all her fears in order to follow her “sister” Cinder into Therapy Dog work in 2004 and then into HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response in 2005. She overcame spinal surgery and countless bouts with allergies. Her main desire was to curl up with you, be petted and loved, and in turn return that love. She was also in seventh heaven when she got her teeth brushed and had her fur blown away by either the hair dryer or the wind. She loved the outdoors and especially her trips to the ranch in Colorado with the horses.

Between 2004 and 2012 she touched so many lives and gave so many hope, compassion, and love. Her story, and the help she gave to one young man she bonded with at a youth shelter, are told in a book To the Rescue – Found Dogs with a Mission by noted writer Elise Lufkin, and for which she won an Honorable Mention in Delta Society’s Beyond the Limits award. She retired from HOPE work in 2010 due to physical problems, but still looked forward to, and loved the visits at the youth shelters.

To my sweet little girl so full of love and compassion – we love you and now you can rest easy, run and play with abandon, as your “job” with us is done.

With all our Love,
Mom, Dad and Cinder


Clifford, Canine partner to Claudine Singer, PSW

Clifford lived his short life with gusto, full speed ahead, every single minute.

This gentle soul abandoned on the streets of Ventura County, was rescued from the shelter in 2001.  It soon became clear that Clifford needed a job.  After multiple obedience classes, Clifford became a compassionate Therapy dog.  In 2004 Clifford and I were certified as a HOPE AACR Crisis Response team.

Our first call-out was the 2005 Metrolink derailment, followed by Hurricane Katrina, various HOPE events then again the 2008 Metrolink disaster where Clifford’s gentleness shined with one of the 25 victims’ spouse.   A gentle probe with his muzzle, then a warm body curl on her feet and a quiet comfort followed.  Clifford became “The dog who kept my feet warm” at the Candlelight Vigil, the week following the train disaster.  The magical moment repeated itself one year after the Metrolink disaster when Clifford met up again with the curly haired woman, at a survivor support group meeting, when unprompted, he got up, walked over to her and curled his warm golden body on her feet……it brought tears to my eyes as he knew which person needed his unconditional love and comfort.

Clifford knew what he wanted and needed and was not afraid to ask: he fearlessly dove into our swimming pool, he tirelessly retrieved tennis balls and he demanded his meals with such hourly precision that we swore Clifford had learned to tell time. Clifford was playful and rambunctious to be sure, but the moment he cloaked his working vest, he knew his mission and he did it well.

In April 2011, an MRI revealed that Clifford had an inoperable malignant nerve sheath tumor and his time with us would be short. Six weeks later on May 17th, and after trying our best to prepare ourselves for the inevitable, we said goodbye to our beloved golden boy.

Clifford brought so many smiles during his nine years of animal-­assisted therapy, his participation in the READ program and his six years as a HOPE Crisis Response dog.   I will always miss my four-­legged angel. Clifford will forever warm my heart.

Claudine Singer

Mary Jo Burke, HOPE Member, PNW

Mary Jo Burke, who certified in November ’04 with her Golden Retriever, Annie, ended her struggle with cancer January 15, 2007. From the first moment we met Mary Jo, it was clear that she was someone with a huge heart and unusually generous spirit. We all looked forward to being around her infectious warmth, wonderful smiles, delightful humor, and never-ending words of encouragement. She was always there to give support, listen, share her experiences, and respond with a natural wisdom coupled with genuine concern.

Mary Jo’s love and enthusiasm for her family was a strong foundation. From this center, she reached out and served the community in many ways. Her long time involvement with animal-assisted therapy with children, teenagers, and adults of all ages, along with her work with HOPE AACR, was a true reflection and extension of her love and respect for humans and animals. She lived her life fully, unselfishly, with a giving heart. She left it with an inspiring legacy of tremendous strength and courage.

Mary Jo was a gift to all who were lucky to know her, one of those rare and special people who left the world a much better place for her having been here. She will be deeply missed as wife, mother, grandmother, friend, & colleague.

Kenzie, beloved HOPE dog of Denise Julian, PSW

Kenzie loved people and, like most Golden’s, would nudge and prod with her nose until you gave her a pet. Her loving nature helped so many people and will be remembered by many she touched.

In April 2006, Denise and Kenzie traveled to New Orleans to provide support and comfort to people still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Kenzie touched many people while deployed in New Orleans.

Kenzie was a much loved crisis response and therapy dog, and will be greatly missed. The angels in heaven are rejoicing because they now have Kenzie.

Tanner, beloved HOPE dog of Patty Diubaldi, PSW

Tanner was a special dog who loved his mom, Patty, very much. Together they comforted so many people. Tanner was loved by so many others as well. His sweet gentle ways could melt anyone’s heart. Patty and Tanner would attend church together where he was always welcome.

Patty and Tanner were certified as a crisis response team in October 2005 and loved working together. Tanner was stricken with a sudden illness that eventually took him across the Rainbow Bridge.

Patty said about Tanner, “I truly believe that there’s a place in heaven for all our beloved companions. I expect to see him one day waiting for me at those gates just the same way he waited by the gate everyday for me to get home. I’m always going to miss him and I thank God for bringing him into my life and allowing me the privilege of sharing his life’s journey.”

Applejack’s Extraordinary Career, PSW

San Diego Hope member Dori McLaurin had big plans, and she needed a big dog. Motivated by a shoulder injury of her own, she wanted to develop an animal-assisted aquatic therapy program for others. Dori found enthusiastic supporters in Newf lovers Don and Jeanette Tate, who gave her Applejack, an 8-month-old Newfoundland—a dog bred for water rescue—to launch the effort.

Applejack matured into a lovable, 180-pound adult, perfect for aquatic therapy—except for a surprising aversion to swimming! What he did do well was connect with people in need of emotional support. And so began his remarkable 7-year career in therapy and crisis response. From Children’s Hospital to assisted living, skilled nursing and Alzheimer’s facilities, Applejack delighted patients, families and staff alike. And then, in early 2001, San Diego was rocked by two fatal school shootings. Believing Applejack could help the traumatized survivors, Dori took him to both campuses. To her surprise, the big guy drew not only students, but teachers, counselors, even police officers. Some sobbed into his fur. Others simply said thanks.

Soon after, Dori learned about HOPE AACR, and Applejack became the first Newfoundland certified in crisis response. As a HOPE team, Dori and Applejack responded to multiple disasters. When catastrophic wildfires hit San Diego in late 2003, Applejack worked day after day at the fire base camp, comforting hundreds of exhausted firefighters and even greeting President George W. Bush. Two years later, when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Applejack was still on the job, helping de-stress evacuees flown to a shelter provided by the San Diego Red Cross. But he was eight now and slowing down. Dori began to wonder when she should retire him.

Then came word that Don Tate had died. At the family’s request, Dori and Applejack both attended the funeral. Never had the big Newfy’s crisis response skills been so appreciated as by this grieving family, who had made his journey with Dori possible. Realizing her beloved partner’s career had come full circle, Dori retired Applejack that day. He responded just once more, coming out of retirement in late 2006 to lead a contingent of HOPE teams at a public memorial service for five fallen firefighters. But Dori and even other HOPE members continued to hear kudos from people whom this very special Newf had touched in some way. No doubt, the many memories of Applejack and his magic will linger for a long, long time to come.

Sonny – beloved HOPE dog of Carla Prinkki, RMR

Carla Prinkki of Roberts, MT lost her beloved HOPE dog, “Sonny,” on March 19, 2012. He died peacefully during his morning nap. Sonny, a blue merle smooth collie, was 10-years-old. In 2011, Sonny (whose AKC registered name is Blue Fox United We Stand CGC) received the Beartooth Humane Alliance’s Purple Paw award, presented to animals that have made a contribution through a heroic act or outstanding demonstration of the human-animal bond.

This was shown when Carla and Sonny were called to a middle school were students had lost a classmate in a car accident. “We stayed later than the other teams,” said Carla. “And as we were ready to leave, the teacher of the child who was killed came to us. Sonny gently snuggled close to him offering quiet presence while the teacher poured out his feelings. He then thanked us profusely… it was a truly beautiful moment I will treasure always.” (Carla adds: The teacher’s last name, quite fittingly, was Hope.)

Sonny became a HOPE dog in 2008 and had that innate canine sense of timing and action so valued in traumatic situations. He was well trained in human therapy, crisis response and reading assistance and will be so missed.

SKOOK – “Wild and Care-free”, RMR
1995 – 2006

Skook was nearing her tenth birthday and had suffered a second injury by the end of the 2005 hunting season. She was cold, wet and, oh so, tired! My husband sadly admitted it was time to retire her from the intense physical demands of the hunting field. Skook healed quickly and replenished her energy with the warmth and love of her family surrounding her. She was still the tenacious little Brittany Spaniel, with a heart of pure gold! I am sure she dreamt of days to come when she would return once again to the golden-colored fields around Montana looking for the wily Ringneck pheasants for my husband, Larry. However her life, as she had known it, was about to change in so many ways…….

I, too, had recently retired (from education) and was wondering what type of new and interesting opportunities awaited me in my changing world. I remember not only asking myself, but also asking her “What now little girl?” The answer wasn’t readily apparent! We were both used to busy lives, deeply involved in what it seemed as if we were destined to do. I was hoping to try to merge my time and talents in helping people in a completely new and different way.

And, she being a true working dog at heart had a burning desire to be “out there in the field” – despite the slow-down-phase she had entered. To be sure our daily “walk-abouts” joyfully continued with both me and her younger “sister”. All three of us enjoyed those outings, knowing that the warmth of the house would chase away the chill in our bones once we returned. Still, the answer to “what’s next” seemed to elude us!

That is, until late January of 2006, when I happened upon an advertisement in our local newspaper inviting the public to an OPEN HOUSE meeting for HOPE AACR. It was here that a dream began to emerge. Perhaps, both Skook and I could meld our lives together, and with training we might become an animal- assisted therapy team where we would each have a “job” of service within our community. We had so much fun together over the next few months while being encouraged and mentored as a new Intermountain Therapy Animal team. From there, we attended and successfully completed the 2006 HOPE AACR workshop in Bozeman, Montana. We did it – we were also a HOPE K9 Team! Life was busy, we were learning new things all the time, and we had a purpose! LIFE IS GRAND………..but it is also challenging to be sure!

Our little Skook-er took a turn for the worse. By early Fall, she experienced rapid onset blindness, and found her “new world” a dark and scary place to navigate without her eyesight. She went on to develop additional life-threatening symptoms and was gone by mid-November!


With loving memories,

Mary Martin
August 20, 2008

Roxanne Lechner & Elwood, HOPE Team, PSW

Roxanne Lechner, certified HOPE AACR member, who served with her canine partner Elwood, crossed over the Rainbow Bridge November 11, 2005. She died as she had lived, with great concern about the well being of those around her, after losing a courageous battle of several months with a rare abdominal cancer. Roxanne’s passion was to serve “all God’s creatures, great and small,” by volunteering.

In September 2002, Roxanne and Elwood successfully completed training and certification for HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response in Portland, Oregon. They remained active together until Roxanne’s illness prevented her from participating. Elwood loved Roxanne very much and remained by her side until the very end.

Elwood, beloved canine partner of Roxanne Lechner, went home to be with Roxanne August 27, 2006. Roxanne and Elwood are together again, as God planned. Elwood was laid to rest under their favorite tree. Angels only stay until their job is done.

Special Memories From Taryn Hefler, HOPE AACR Pacific South West Regional Director during the 2003 fires and Certified Team member with Darby:

“In October of 2003 California experienced massive wildfires across Southern California. At the time of these fires HOPE AACR had only 9 certified teams in California. We were called in by the Red Cross to help with the 2000 plus evacuees in the Red Cross shelters popping up all around the cities as the fire area grew.”

“The Pacific Southwest region was quickly becoming overwhelmed and I, as the regional director, sent out an SOS to our other regions asking for help. Three members responded, Roxanne and Elwood, and Richard and Marcy Lowy, our President and Treasurer at the time, and their canine partner Otis.”

“Roxanne and Elwood did such a wonderful job. They helped so many people and touched so many lives. At the time, I don’t think she understood the impact she and Elwood would have as a result of this simple act of kindness. She was very worried before she came to California that she was not “good enough”. Fortunately for all of us, she was persuaded otherwise. If you could have seen the ease that she and Elwood worked with the people affected by this disaster! It was a blessing that Roxanne and Elwood traveled (at their expense) down to Southern California to help, because not only did they help the victims of this fire, but they helped leave an unbelievably positive image of HOPE AACR in the eyes of a lot of important people. Those same people later were instrumental in writing a Memorandum of Understand between the American Red Cross and HOPE AACR – Pacific South West Region.”

“Roxanne and Elwood made a difference in the lives of many here in CA. I am very lucky to have met her and Elwood, and will always think of them with the big, warm beautiful smile she had as she helped the many people who were so severely affected by this disaster.”

“We will always be grateful to Roxanne not only for what her help did for us, but the ease and grace that she did it.”

From Lois Abrams, Ph.D., member of HOPE AACR Founding Board and Certified Team member with Duke & Romeo.

“It was indeed special to know Roxanne and have the honor of having her and Elwood stay with us during these horrific fire times. In and Out Burger became our place for fun times together as we traveled from Huntington Beach to San Bernardino. We stopped at a couple of different In and Out’s. Children eating there were thrilled with the dogs. Roxanne was a bright star in the life of HOPE AACR and for each of us personally who were blessed to know her.”

Summer “Wicked She of Ghoststone” – beloved HOPE dog of Joanne Huntley, PNW

April 12,1993 – February 2, 2005

Summer was a show dog who also gained titles in Agility competitions, but her first priority was working as a Delta Society Pet Partner volunteer (certified in 1996), and also with HOPE AACR (certified in January, 2002). She particularly loved working with children and the elderly.

Summer and Joanne were with a group named “Have Paws Will Travel”, who volunteered at Bonny Hayes Animal Shelter in Washington County. They staffed a booth for the shelter at the annual County Fair for years. They volunteered weekly at a Women’s Shelter and Children’s Evening Care Center, at a Head start Program in Hillsboro Elementary School, and from 1996, until Summer was retired in mid-2004, at the Hillsboro Rehab/Extended Living Center.

Summer was diagnosed with bone cancer in her leg in 2004, sadly, she did not fully recover, and succumbed 3 months later.

Summer was a 75 pound bundle of chocolate Labrador love, and continues to be greatly missed. She left her sweet paw-prints on the hearts all those who knew her.

Christie, beloved HOPE dog of Sandi Welch, EUS

Christie was raised as a show dog and used as a breeder. She was given to me at the age of five. Christie was special right away and had a loving and kind way about her. She got her therapy license and began to work her magic immediately. I always considered her a gift from God because she helped so many people. Always the diva, whether in a nursing home, school or church, she brought happiness to so many people.

Her favorite activities were those that involved children. Her favorite location was Sandston Elementary School where she was the unofficial mascot and unofficial member of the mentoring team. She visited every classroom once a month for four years. Every child knew that she was approachable and loved to be hugged. She also attended assemblies, concerts and field days. At the field days, children were constantly bringing her water, Popsicles and cold towels when it was hot. She brought out the best in these children and they miss her still.

Christie loved the people and dogs in HOPE and was an excellent representative for them. She is terribly missed but touched so many people that she will not soon be forgotten.

Christie Born December 1, 1994, Telltale Kennels, Manakin-Sabot, VA Died March 26, 2006, Sandston, VA

Jake, beloved HOPE dog of Susan Rudloff, EUS

The most commonly asked questions about Jake were: Is that a real eye? Is there something wrong with his eye? He had one blue eye that stood out amongst his black fur coat. A favorite response to what breeds is he? His mom was a what? (Scottie mix – she was small and I was told Jake would be around 45 pounds. That came and went quickly at 6 months and Jake grew to be 75 pounds!)

Jake’s favorite activities: In his early years it was being destructive, the typical chewing on baseboards, etc. The not so typical ripping up a solid linoleum floor in 2 days!

In his middle to later years he loved visiting hospitals and retirement homes. He knew what days were visiting days. He had this uncanny sense of who he needed to be with.  He was a people dog; given the opportunity to play with dogs or stand with people, he chose people. He was the camping mascot of several annual camping groups. Being a couch potato, if you were laying on the couch he managed to curl up in the small unoccupied area.

My favorite things about Jake: His love for humanity. His willingness to do just about anything I asked of him. His greeting howl when I came home. His gentleness with everyone and everything, even our cats, particularly when they climbed on him and put their claws into his fur like they were massaging him. His Casanova personality; he may not have wanted to play with other dogs but boy did he flirt with the girls!

Things I will miss about Jake: His smile and his insistence you touch him. He would put his nose in your hand and lift it so you had to touch his head. His thinking 1/3 the bed was for him and that 1/3 was not at the foot! His “Nun” ears that made him look like he was wearing a Nun’s habit when he perked them up.

Josie, beloved Hope dog of Becki Vance

Josie joined our family when she was five years old. In 2008 she became a therapy dog with Hand in Paw (Birmingham), shortly afterwards she earned her Canine Good Citizen certification. During 2011 she joined HOPE AACR as a comfort dog. Each December from 2012-2015 she played the role of “Grandmothers Dog” in the Birmingham Ballets production of the Muttcracker. From 2010-2016 she was a model dog for TAER (Technical Animal Emergency Response) helping to teach First Responders pet first aid. Our sweet gentle little Josie was a loved family member and friend to many. She brought joy to all which knew her. She will be truly missed. Thanks to HOPE AARC for the opportunity for Josie to spread some extra love.


Mason, beloved dog of Christine McNamara, former SER HOPE member

I share my deep sadness with my friends. I said goodbye to my beloved Mason last week. We just celebrated his 11th birthday last month, and I am heartbroken that it was his time to leave us. Mason blossomed into a wonderful therapy dog with Happy Tails and a HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis
Response dog. We shared a short life time together filled with deep mutual respect, always looking to have simple fun, sharing deep love, doing exciting agility runs, participating in canine Emory MRI studies, swimming like Ester Williams (for those who know who Ester was), being the ambassador to all that knew him, and helping all the dogs in training enter our home with him saying welcome! Just follow me, I will be by your side. I have the fondest memories of the trips he and I would take alone and together, they will be some of my most cherished and special memories. Most of all, I will miss him always at my side, staring at me and the gaze he would seem to give only to me and me alone. As a very special woman I know says, “All you need is LOVE.” Thank you Magnificent Mason. 2005 – 2016.


Sofie, beloved Hope dog of Elizabeth Kohler

Sofie shares her fabulous smile.

In 2003, Sofie began her therapy career as a PetPartner in Spokane, Washington. She provided comfort care in hospitals, hospice houses and camps, and gave mental health support to stressed-out college students. Sofie became a HOPE AACR partner in 2006. She participated in several research studies concerning AAT at Eastern Washington University. Additionally, she served during natural and intentional disasters in the PNW region which included forest fires, a campus shooting, CERT and Red Cross events. Sofie joined the SER in 2013. She was one of the teams responding to the Adairsville, Georgia tornado. She continued to participate in HOPE educational events and serve as a PetPartner team in local hospitals, nursing homes, extended care facilities and hospice. She retired HOPE and PetPartners in 2014. In her retirement she became an “ambassador” for AAT in the School of Occupational Therapy at Brenau University. Sofie was a self-less, compassionate dog who tirelessly fostered the animal-human bond. She died on May 25, 2016 at 16- years young.