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Founder’s Month

By April 17, 2019July 9th, 2020No Comments

Celebrating Our Past:

April is Founder’s Month

The Beginning: Roy Answered the Call

Roy Kabat worked with animals in hundreds of motion pictures and television shows including “Dr. Doolittle”, Elsa the lion in “Living Free”, and the cougar in the Mercury car commercials. Robin Dickson, Roy’s daughter and former DFD President/CEO, recounted his early days – click here to read her story!

After his Hollywood career, Roy moved to Applegate, Oregon in semi-retirement. He opened the Applegate Behavioral Station to help Dr. John Sullivan from Southern Oregon University with wolf research. Then one day, the American Humane Association approached Roy for help in training a Hearing Dog. Roy answered the call, and spent two weeks in Denver working with and advising AHA on dog training techniques.

Next up: The Story Begins

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The Story Begins

After advising the American Humane Association on dog training techniques, Roy returned to Oregon with the idea of beginning a Hearing Dog training center on his southern Oregon ranch. With just $25,000 in seed money and heart-filled inspiration, Roy launched Dogs for the Deaf and opened its doors in 1977.

Soon after, DFD introduced its first Demonstration Dog, Jeremiah, to show what Hearing Dogs can do to help people with hearing challenges.

In 1979, the Good Sam RV Club adopted DFD as its official charity marking the beginning of sustainable funding for the organization.

Roy’s daughter, Robin Dickson, joined DFD in 1981, becoming successor CEO when Roy passed away 5 years later. Robin was instrumental in creating Assistance Dogs International, Inc. (ADI) – a worldwide coalition of non-profit programs that train and place Assistance Dogs. DFD is a charter member of ADI that was founded in 1986.

Next up: Continuing Roy’s Legacy

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Continuing Roy’s Legacy 40 Years Later

After many years of successful Hearing Dog placements and fundraising achievements, successor CEO Robin Dickson expanded DFD’s programs to include Facility Dogs and Autism Assistance Dogs. Robin shared her DFD history with us – click here to read her story!

Robin retired in 2016 and Dogs for the Deaf was rebranded to Dogs for Better Lives in 2017. Soon after, DBL broke ground on the construction of a second training building to expand kennel and training space.

More than 40 years later, our foundation endures:

  • We are client-focused and deliver dogs to the clients’ homes.
  • We are dog-focused and care for all dogs we rescue, breed and place for life.

Next up: The Future Looks Bright

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Hearing Dogs

Autism Assistance Dogs

Facility Dogs

With more than 1,300 dogs placed over our 40+ year history, Dogs for Better Lives is continuing to expand its footprint nationally, focused on serving even more dogs and people.

As we begin to launch our 2020 Vision, pursuing a truly national on-the-ground presence this will require implementation of an organizational model that includes training, development, finance and operational function strategically positioned to serve defined regional populations.

This Summer/Fall we will begin to launch our staff footprint with an increased staffing presence on the west coast, specifically in Washington State and California. Over the next 5-10 years, this strategic plan will expand across the United States, allowing us to have a closer proximity to major transportation hubs, clients, donors and volunteers.

During our inaugural Founder’s Month celebration, we enjoyed sharing tidbits of our past and hope that you can help us continue Roy’s legacy of rescuing, professionally training and placing Assistance Dogs with people in need.

We are excited about what the future will bring and invite you to join us!

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