Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Monday, June 25, 2012
They are an important piece of our program and we thank them all for their volunteerism and help with our Dogs.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Friday, June 22, 2012
Boots Tails fund-raiser for Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities (ECAD), which raised approximately $100,000, at a private estate in town.
At the completion of their two-year training, ECAD’s service dogs are able to perform more than 80 commands, performing tasks such as opening doors, pulling wheelchairs and retrieving items for people with any number of disabilities including autism, heart conditions and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Such specialized training costs approximately $25,000 per dog, prompting Saturday’s fund-raiser for the nonprofit organization, which was established by Dale and Lu Picard in 1995 to educate and place service dogs with disabled people.
Doing this allows for the people to have greater independence and mobility and, according to Mr. Picard, ECAD, was created by accident, thanks to his wife, Lu.
After her father suffered a stroke, Ms. Picard trained her dog to help him get to his feet and assist with his balance. When she realized the transformation the dog had made in her father’s quality of life, Ms. Picard traveled to California for a six-week dog training course and shortly afterward established ECAD with her husband.
The couple knew their organization was successful when Mr. Picard said the doctor of one of their first clients related that the client’s service dog had saved his life at least half a dozen times. The dog was able to pick up on the changes in his master’s body language and posture that indicated heart failure, then cued others to the danger, he explained.
The couple’s work soon caught the attention of Sam Ross, who wanted to add a dog training program to Green Chimneys, his animal-assisted therapy school in New York. After meeting the Picards, Dr. Ross immediately provided them with a contract, feeling that service dogs could significantly help challenged youth, like his students.
“Today we have 225 dogs out there working with disabled people, all trained by kids” from alternative schools similar to Green Chimneys, Mr. Picard said.
At-risk children and teens with a variety of emotional problems now provide the two-year training of ECAD’s service dogs at six alternative schools throughout Connecticut and lower New York.
Given that the youth trainers, the client and the dog each benefit from the “ECADemy” program, “It’s a positive win for everyone,” Mr. Picard said. The youth are given a sense of control and accomplishment, the client is provided with greater independence, and the dog has both a purpose and a companion.
As ECAD has evolved and grown over the years, some of its most common clients have become injured veterans, which prompted the establishment of the “Project HEAL” program in 2008.
The program was designed specifically for wounded warriors, pairing veterans with specially trained service dogs who assist them with both visible and invisible disabilities.
Phil Bauer, a Project HEAL beneficiary-turned-volunteer, attested to the success of ECAD’s programs Saturday night, accompanied by his service dog, Reece.
In 2003 while serving in Iraq, Mr. Bauer’s helicopter was shot down near Fallujah. After surviving a 200-foot drop, his legs were trapped under the fallen helicopter, eventually resulting in the amputation of his right leg below the knee. After suffering from both his physical injuries and PTSD for several years, Mr. Bauer said he eventually found ECAD and immediately “fell in love” with their ideology.
Today, two-and-a-half years after being paired up with Reece, Mr. Bauer said his life has completely changed.
“If you get close, [Reece] gets in a position to keep you at a safe distance so I feel more comfortable,” he said. The canine can do “anything from being able to fetch and retrieve my prosthetic leg to turning on lights for me.”
“I can be an incredibly emotional and passionate person,” Mr. Bauer said. “If I start to get angry or fixated ... Reece tends to get goofy which then forces me to break [the fixation]. Once you get that bond built, the dog wants nothing more than to make you happy.”
Having a service dog has brought purpose back to his life, Mr. Bauer explained. “I have more to actually get out of bed for. This gave me back a part of my life I felt like I lost.”
Former Eastchester, N.Y., police officer Lee O’Brien-Rothmann, who now assists ECAD with its social media, has had a similar life-altering experience.
After an incident in the line of duty caused Ms. O’Brien-Rothmann to suffer extreme PTSD, she began to research service dogs and discovered ECAD.
“I didn’t leave the house for two years. Once I came into ECAD, it was like my whole world was open again,” she said.
The organization’s positive energy had an immediate effect, as did her service dog, Brady, she added.
“I went from being housebound to back out to do things,” including traveling all over the country with her canine companion. “With Brady, everything was seamless,” Ms. O’Brien-Rothmann explained. “He gives me all the confidence in the world.”
Avril Dennis, a licensed clinical social worker who has partnered with ECAD for nearly 13 years, said she has “hundreds and hundreds” of success stories relating to the organization.
Ms. Dennis began her relationship with ECAD after taking a position at The Children’s Village, one of the alternative schools whose youth help train ECAD service dogs.
When the dogs were introduced to group therapy sessions at the school, student attendance increased, Ms. Dennis said. “Meaningful dialogue went up,” along with the quality of relationships between adults and youth.
Currently, said Ms. Dennis, there is a five-dog, 16-person animal assistant therapy team at The Children’s Village residential campus in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.
Working with service dogs has generated breakthroughs for many students, she said.
“I’ve had kids who won’t talk to me unless the dog is in the room,” Ms. Dennis said, adding that the dog is a barrier that makes children feel safe, which is crucial at an institution where the majority of students have been through trauma and displacement, she explained.
Ms. Dennis, who suffers from an autoimmune disorder and has a service dog of her own, Blondie, said ECAD’s success rate is a result of the organization’s fierce commitment to their cause. Awareness and education regarding service dogs has increased significantly over the past few years and “ECAD has played a huge role” in that expansion, she said.
Carrie Picard, the daughter of ECAD’s founders, and the organization’s marketing and social networking managers said ECAD has grown considerably since its establishment and will need to evolve even further.
With an increasing need for service dogs, the organization needs to “step up [their] game” in order to fulfill those needs, she said. The challenge will be obtaining more space, more dogs and more funding.
Despite those obstacles, she explained, ECAD plans to take the organization “to the next level.”
For those who want to help ECAD, visit ecad1.org for more information.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
|Our Host Lu and Sen Bloomenthal|
|Ben and Janet Cheever|
|Doug BLV and Pauly|
|Sam Cook of Green chimneys|
|Elena and Garrison|
|Lu and Dale with SD Brady|
|Luis & Tuesday Brady & Lee|
|Megan and Abby with Gadsby|
|Phil hard at work|
|Reece & Brady|
|Pauly Mickey & Tink|
|Abby and Mickey|
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Photographs by ChiChi Ubiña
An interview with Carrie Picard, about her family's service organization. ECAD's mission is to enable people with disabilities to gain greater independence and mobility through the use of specially educated dogs.
Tell us about how your family started ECAD. What was the inspiration and when did you start it?
ECAD was founded by Dale and Lu Picard in 1995 following a very personal experience. Lu's father suffered a stroke. In addition to the difficulties in walking and maintaining balance, he was also depressed because he had to rely on others to do things. Lu trained the family pet to help her dad. He would hold the leash, and upon command, the dog would pull Lu's dad to his feet and then brace him so he would not fall. Lu saw an immediate change in her dad's mental outlook. He and the dog became inseparable. He felt comfortable relying on the dog in ways that he could not with his family. Lu thought, I can help so many in this way. She and Dale followed this dream to the great success that ECAD is today.
It takes two years to educate an ECAD Service Dog beginning when the puppies are around six weeks, although they will begin interaction with humans shortly after birth. The dogs will attend kindergarten, grade and high school sessions at the schools where ECADemy is part of the curriculum. They graduate and are paired with their partner following a two week Team Training Session at the ECAD facility in Dobbs Ferry.
Please give some examples of what the dogs can do as companions.
ECAD Service Dogs are educated to help their person by picking up dropped objects, such as cell phones, keys, money, food. They help their person to stand and stay balanced. They can load and unload the wash, open and close doors. ECAD Service Dogs are also educated to help people, mostly Armed Service Veterans through the Project HEAL Program, who have PTSD or TBI. They are educated to help their person overcome hyper-vigilance and fear of crowds. ECAD Service Dogs help people who have a myriad of debilitating diseases, also children with Autism.
The ECADemy Program was established in 1997, first at Green Chimneys in Brewster, NY, and subsequently at five alternative schools in Westchester County. ECADemy is part of the curriculum at these schools. The program explores the strength of the human-canine bond. The students, many of them society's most vulnerable, are trained to educate the Service Dogs thereby learning skills for life and skills for employment.
How many kids participate in how many schools? What have the results been? For the kids and for the dogs?
Over 800 students have participated in the ECADemy Program so that is about 60 a year. All of these children and teens have shown a marked improvement in controlling their frustration, anger and other socialization problems. There is also a written curriculum. The Picards remain in touch with many of their students. A high percentage of these students return to their families and their communities with a healthier attitude and are able to complete school, get good jobs, even run their own business.
ECAD's Service Dogs will have interacted with a number of people while being educated. This prepares them to respond to commands from more than just one person. Anyone who has observed a session at ECADemy will see the eagerness with which the dogs attend class. This eagerness is demonstrated by much wagging of tails. Both students and dogs know they are doing something worthwhile that will benefit others.
Please join Dale and Lu Picard at DENIM HEELS BOOTS TAILS on Saturday, June 16, 2012 in Riverside, CT. For more information please visit: www.ecad1.org, or call 914-693-0600, ext. 1950.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Friday, June 1, 2012
We have the honor to inform you that Until Tuesday has been selected as a finalist in the 2012 International Latino Book Awards (ILBA)within the categories of "Biographies" and the overall "Mariposa Award." The ILBA ceremony will be held in NYC on the evening of June 5 (next Tuesday). It's free to attend but RSVPs are required (see attachment for more details).
That same evening is the 2012 Audie Awards in which we are also a finalist (Biography/Memoir). So, Tuesday will be an eventful night (and Best Dog) regardless of the outcome.
We hope you had a restful and reflective Memorial Day.
With blessings and best wishes,
Luis & Tuesday
Fmr. Capt. Luis Carlos Montalván, USAwebsite: www.until-tuesday.com
June 5, 2012
New York City
211 East 49th Street
During BookExpo America