This April, Dogs for Better Lives is celebrating 45 years of training and placing Assistance Dogs across the United States! Join us for a look back at big milestones and some of the dog and client teams we’ve helped over the years.
The American Humane Association initiated experimental work trying to train dogs to help people
who were Deaf, and they contacted Roy Kabat for advice. After spending two weeks in Denver, Roy returned to Oregon and began Dogs for the Deaf (DFD), now Dogs for Better Lives.
DFD published Canine Ears, its first newsletter, in October.
DFD receives national attention when the White House selected Lois Rodger of Central Point to recognize her for her volunteer work with DFD.
Dogs for the Deaf moved to our current forty-acre site at the base of Lower Table rock in Central Point, Oregon.
DFD Guardian Angel program (now, the Guardian Society) is started to recognize people who have included Dogs for the Deaf in their estate planning.
Dogs for the Deaf is one of the first five Assistance Dogs organizations in the world to be fully accredited by Assistance Dogs International.
Facility Dog Nelson is the first dog to be placed through our Facility Dog Program.
Betty White, and other celebrities joined us at our HollyWOOF fundraiser to mark our 35th anniversary. The event was a glitzy, glamorous afternoon of dancing, drinking, dining, shopping, and mingling with the stars in Studio City, California.
Ian is the first Autism Assistance Dog to be placed.
Dogs or the Deaf became Dogs for better Lives in 2017 to reflect the multiple programs we offer, including Autism Assistance Dogs and Facility Dogs.
Dogs for Better Lives purchases a property in Falmouth, Massachusetts for the future Northeast Campus to foster the growth and expansion necessary to acquiring, professionally training, and placing more Assistance Dogs across the country.
Dogs for Better Lives is honored for the 8th consecutive year as a 4-Star Charity with Charity Navigator.
DBL officially opens the Northeast Training Campus.
Assistance Dog Stories Through the Decades
Pictured here with Roy Kabat, Jeremiah was DFD’s first demonstration dog. He was a beautiful, red, Irish Setter/ Springer Spaniel mix. As one of the first Hearing Assistance Dogs trained at DFD, Jeremiah was a pioneer. After training, he became our demonstration dog and did thousands of demonstrations across the country to show people how Hearing Dogs help deaf people. Even after retirement, he spent many days in the office, keeping an eye on things between naps. He also served as Campaign Chairman of the Building Fund Drive.
Eleanor and Ashley (1988)
We think Ashley is the most exceptional dog there ever was! Ashley’s fame in town as earned me the title, “That Woman with the Black Dog.” Many of them don’t realize that I can read their lips far as across the street, and I grin at them. I have no need to explain Ashley to the public. They quickly smile at and admire her behavior.
Liz and Murphy (1992)
As little Brian rolled down the stairs and began crying when he came to a hard stop at the bottom, his mother Liz was in the kitchen working and didn’t respond to her little boy’s cries. It wasn’t a lack of caring or sensitivity that kept Liz from her crying son’s side. Deafened from a progressive hearing loss, this young mother was unable to hear the needs of her hurting son. Suddenly, Liz felt something “hit” her on the leg and looked down to see Murphy, her new Hearing Dog, trying to get her attention. It occurred to Liz that he was extra anxious, and she rushed after him to see what was wrong. There, at the bottom of the stairs, lay Brian crying, with a concerned Murphy by his side. Liz’s first thought was of her child’s pain. After seeing that Brian wasn’t hurt badly, her thoughts turned to Murphy. He sat next to them with a troubled look in his eyes. Liz quickly remembered an important part of Murphy’s training.
She was supposed to praise him for bringing her to Brian’s side. With tears of joy, she cuddled him, too, and looked into his beautiful brown eyes.
Doris and Marly (1994)
A single mother of two and unable to hear the sounds in her home caused Doris to be in constant fear of danger for her family. Doris knew there were going to be wonderful changes in her life with the arrival of Marley – freedom and security, the things she had wished for so many years. She now looks forward to getting up each day instead of dreading her world of loneliness.
Jen & Hattie (2010)
Hattie is a part of me; she is my ears and my best friend. She has allowed me to blossom and has enabled me to regain my independence and find my true self. Hattie has given my family peace of mind; they no longer worry about me living on my own as a single deaf woman in a hearing world. My ears have four legs, a tail, chocolate fur and a heart of gold, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Nelson and Janet (2011)
Nelson was placed with Janet, a teacher of students with special needs. Nelson was trained to help the students focus, verbalize, and stay on task. Janet uses him as a motivation for the students and incorporates Nelson into many different lessons. Nelson was inducted into the Oregon Animal Hall of Fame for her work in 2011.
Maria and Noodle (2018)
“Noodle has personally changed me by allowing me to trust him;’ Maria said. “I have had to teach myself to trust in someone else to alert me to my surroundings. I have always had to rely strongly on instincts or on my family. I can now cook and feel comfortable about cooking without having to worry. Such simple things in life that many take for granted are the things I am excited about now that I have Noodle with me:’
Simon and Oolong (2020)
Simon has a form of autism described as nonverbal, meaning he doesn’t use language easily. When he was a preschooler, his parents noticed that dogs caused Simon to light up. They applied for a service dog and waited hopefully. After the pandemic began, the isolation and disruption in routine affected Simon deeply. He would sometimes scream for hours. Then Oolong joined the family in November 2020. “Having Oolong around has improved Simon’s mental health, because he’s more regulated than before she came into his life. For example, car rides are stressful for Simon. But now that Oolong is lying in the seat next to him, it has eliminated the screaming on rides, and I can even hear him giggling sometimes.”
Allison & Ruth (2022)
Facility Dog Ruth was placed with Allison in American Fork, Utah. Allison is a teacher in a special education classroom for elementary school aged children. Allison and Ruth quickly bonded and developed a great working relationship. Although this is Allison’s first dog as an adult, she naturally took to the training process and said that it was very similar to working with young children. Ruth is a fixture in Allison’s classroom as she helps to reward good behavior from the children and makes trying new things less scary. Ruth works place, settle, squish (lap/lower back), visit, touch, shake, high five, and retrieve for Allison.