Shadowmyst Daydream, better known as Vision, recently won the 2012 IVMA Iowa Hall of Fame award for Companion Animal for her work with the P.A.L. program at the Fremont Community Schools in Fremont, Iowa. Vision is a life-long consumer of Canine Caviar, and we met up with her to talk about her work with children.
CC Newsletter: First of all, I want to congratulate you on winning the 2012 Iowa Hall of Fame Companion Animal for your work with the P.A.L. program. Can you tell us a little more about what you do with this program?
Vision: Thank you! P.A.L. stands for Pets Always Listen when we are talking about the reading program…it’s an entirely different acronym for coming to our human when called. But then it’s something like P.A.A.L.E.W.T.I.S.G.T.R.I, which is Pets Almost Always Listen Except When There Is Something Gross To Roll In…but I digress here. The Fremont Elementary P.A.L. program is a way to encourage kids to read without being judged. I go to each classroom on one Friday a month and the kids take turns sitting with me to read from a book. My job is to lay calmly with my head on their lap and encourage them to read the story to me without feeling any pressure. They love being able to sit with me and read, so that seems to help motivate them to participate.
CC Newsletter: Now, I see on your website that you are “semi-retired”. I know we never ask a woman her age, but I don’t see any gray on your muzzle. How old are you?
Vision: I’m proud to tell you that I just turned ten! I only look like I’m 6, wouldn’t you say? You can thank the Canine Caviar for that! I have been on it since I was weaned!
CC Newsletter: Before you became involved with the P.A.L. program it looks like you did some work in dog shows and as a hunting dog. Tell us a little more about your Junior Hunter title and how you earned that.
Vision: I could have pursued my Championship title in Conformation but hunting is in my blood! I earned my AKC Junior Hunter title by passing four separate Junior Hunter tests, which test a retriever’s ability to mark, retrieve and deliver four birds to hand. I had some really challenging tests and am proud to say that I passed those with flying colors! It was a blast and like all Labradors I was happy to do it for my handler. We Labradors ADORE our owners!
CC Newsletter: I know that your choice of food is the Canine Caviar diet. What is your favorite flavor? Did Canine Caviar help you keep your energy up through your various jobs over your lifetime?
Vision: Yes, like I said, I’ve been eating Canine Caviar holistic dog food since I was a puppy. My favorite is still Chicken and Pearl Millet. I don’t do well on products that have potato in it, so my Mom’s favorite thing about Canine Caviar is that it doesn’t have potato. Mom actually believes in the food so strongly that she sells Canine Caviar at her business, Shadowland Obedience and Boarding in Oskaloosa, Iowa. But MY favorite thing about it is that it keeps my coat amazingly conditioned. Just look at it! Go ahead and feel it! It’s no wonder that the kids love to pet me!CC Newsletter: When you are not working at school, what hobbies do you have? What would make up a perfect day for you?
Vision: My favorite hobbies are begging, laying on the futon, munching grass, going for walks, retrieving bumpers in my pond and rolling in deer…wait a minute, Mom is yelling something…oh…I guess I’m supposed to skip that part! A perfect day would be: eating, pond sessions, naptime on the futon, eating, another pond session, naptime, a walk around the acreage, eating and capping it all off with a couple of Buffalo treats.
CC Newsletter: What advice can you give to other dogs who would like to work with children as a reading partner? What characteristics do they need? Do they need any particular training for this job?
Vision: It really takes three things: patience, calmness and love. We dogs come pre-wired for the love part, so if you want to be a reading dog, obedience class is a must. You have to learn basic obedience so that you can be good around children. When you go to doggie school your human also teaches you how to have self-control, which is part of patience. In addition, I think you have to have an innate bond with kids. That part is special.
CC Newsletter: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Before you go, can you recommend a good book for both dogs and kids to enjoy together?
Vision: You’re welcome, it’s been a pleasure! You can’t beat the old classic Where the Red Fern Grows. Makes me cry every time! Some of it is sad, but it is a really great book that encourages empathy. And before I go, I’ll sign off with my favorite quote by Groucho Marx…for obvious reasons: Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.
For more photos and information about vision check out her website: http://www.shadowmystlabs.com/Vision.htm
Want to learn more about the Labrador Retriever breed? Read about them on the AKC website.