Through my social media and pet friendly travels I have been fortunate to meet some really incredible people. I was recently introduced to a dog walker in Cape Cod who is making a difference in the lives of cancer patients. Maria Silva is a dog walker servicing Barnstable, West Barnstable, Centerville, Cotuit, Hyannis, Marstons Mills and Osterville Massachusetts. Her passion for animals has changed her life and the lives of others along the way.
Where do I begin? In May of 2009, Red Rover Dog Walking was launched. A dog walking and pet sitting company servicing the Barnstable Villages on Cape Cod. Complimentary services for Barnstable residents undergoing cancer treatment was a must! I experienced this need when my husband and I had travelled to Boston for his treatment and my then Golden Retriever puppy needed to be let out and exercised while we were gone all day. A true necessity and gift greater than gold! I knew I had to make this part of my venture.
As I took on more cancer patients, they asked me to find a home for their furry friends before they passed. I am honored to say I was able to do this for many. The response I got from the patients is beyond anything I can describe. It still brings tears to my eyes every time I think of it. I am a very spiritual person, but I have never felt the presence of God more than at those times my patients had thanked me.
Soon after, I had my dog Padmé tested for her CGC (canine good citizenship) test and Therapy Dog Certification through the Companion Animal Program (CAP) on Cape Cod. She passed with flying colors! Weekly visits were made to local nursing homes where I saw first hand how a pet brings elderly people “back to life” if even just for a short time. Another amazing experience.
I had heard of a 10 year old boy with special needs who needed to get his own Service Dog but was on a waiting list. Granted Padmé was a Therapy Dog, but I wanted to offer her to this boy in the meantime while he waited to receive his own dog. Well Nick and Padmé became fast friends. I showed Nick how to handle a large dog, give her commands, care and treat her properly. And yet, another blessing in my life. Nick had a fundraiser to get his dog. I attended without Padmé but you would never know it as she was everywhere - on shirts, poster boards, table center pieces and even the cake! They raised the needed funds and Nick got his very own Service Dog named Keno. Now Keno and Padmé are quite the item!
Joe the Dogman (Joe Yukna, a local dog trainer) trained both my dogs and also helped me when I first started Red Rover with dog behavioral and training issues. We soon became somewhat of a team doing fun/creative stuff with clients and their dogs. Holiday photo shoots became quite the rage and still are today! Its amazing the bonds you form when dogs are the connection.
So this brings me to my second job which is animal care at Barnstable Animal Hospital in Hyannis, MA. I work there mornings and then do my Red Rover clients in the afternoon. It’s a furry day indeed! Working at the hospital has given me an entire new perspective on our animal friends. I look at them in a whole new light now and have an even greater respect for them.
I love what I do! And they say you should do what you love. I am so blessed to be where I am in life. Its no mistake that Dog is God spelled backwards!
Gracie's Bark is happy to announce that Maria Silva is our first guest blogger in our new series called Making a Difference in the Life of a Dog.
In addition to spotlighting a dog each month from around the world, we have decided to spotlight a person making a difference in the animal community.
Please pass the word around that we are looking for all those wonderful people who make a difference in the life of an animal on a daily basis. Nominate someone you know today! Email us at GraciesBark@gmail.com with your spotlight request.