Although most people know about “Seeing Eye Dogs,” fewer of us are aware of the many ways that “Service Dogs” aid people with other types of disabilities or special needs. I’ve known Judy Suan and her service dogs for years. She’s been a Special Ed teacher for 30 years using animal assisted therapy. She’s also worked with the Reading Education Assistance Dog Team, and is a foster parent for dogs and puppies in transition. Here’s a great feature story about her and her work that appeared in the July 7, 2010, edition of Midweek by Jessica Goolsby. Enjoy. . .
Judy Suan is lending a hand to the community one paw at a time with summer workshops, assemblies and campfire storytelling through her company, Pawsitively Sharing Aloha.Along with UB, her Medical Alert/Brace Certified Service Dog Team pooch, the Kailua woman travels the island spreading aloha and teaching the benefits of service dogs.“We try to educate the public about the important things these animals can do,” Suan explained. “We also talk about dog awareness in general and offer various programs for children and adults, especially those with disabilities.“We want them to take off the ‘dis’ and think about their ‘ability,’” she added. “You have to make the best of the cards you’re dealt in life. I work with kids using positive reinforcement to help them cope with things going on in their lives that they can and can’t control. We also discuss what each of us can do to make a difference in the world and work with people who are interested in having their pets become certified service dogs.” Pawsitively Aloha advocates for those with disabilities or who have other challenges to overcome as well as “wounded warriors” returning from serving our country. It shares facts about service dogs and registered therapy animals and promotes volunteerism.
A special ed teacher for 30 years using animal assisted therapy, Suan also has worked with the Reading Education Assistance Dog Team, as a critical care coordinator for Alzheimer’s/diabetic parents and is on the board of directors for Kahuku-based Hawaii Fi-Do Service Dogs. She’s also a foster parent for dogs and puppies in transition and member of International Association of Assistance Dog Partners.
Workshops and assemblies are available by appointment, with fees ranging from $50 to $300. The company also welcomes “passionate” volunteers. For details, call 221-5698 or visit pawsitivelyaloha.com.