We have a surprise, and we’re so excited to share the news with you all! After many years, our family is expanding…by 4 Paws!!!! Introducing this little cutie…Flasheart, 100% poodle (but part of the 100% Wolf litter).
Yep, you heard that correctly. The Hittle’s will have a little puppy running around the house…BUT only for a year or so. We’ll be able to love on, socialize, and teach this little cutie his manners until it’s time for him to head to Advanced Training, where he will learn all of the skills required for his forever partner! We will just be serving as the foster family for the little guy, as he is part of the 4 Paws for Ability Service Dog Program.
4 Paws for Ability is an amazing non-profit organization right here in Ohio (Xenia – outside of Dayton), and the back story behind it will have you shedding a tear or two (trust me!). (You can watch it here!) This non-profit organization was started by Karen Shirk, after she herself was in need of a service dog…yet, was denied one. She realized there were probably many more, like herself, that could truly benefit from a service dog, but was getting denied access to one for many different reasons (on a ventilator/”too disabled”, being a child, etc.). Karen made it her mission to ensure that those who needed a service dog, got one, and that mission has turned into a world-wide endeavor that has changed the lives of many families!
4 Paws specializes in placing service dogs for all ages/populations, but much of the work they do is focused around kiddos and Veterans. Many other service dog programs, prior to 4 Paws, did not offer service dogs to children, as they felt that the little ones couldn’t handle the dog. They failed to see the service dog as a medical device for the child. Again, this is where Karen stepped up and implemented the first unit model for service dogs, where the parent is the handler, and the kiddo is the dog’s partner. 4 Paws is changing the world and truly working towards their mission of “Taking the “dis” out of disAbility”.
So, we will be fostering little Flasheart here, until he is ready to be placed with his forever partner. Once they match the dog to a partner, they will determine when Flasheart needs to go to Advanced Training, where he will be taught the task specific skills that he will need to perform for his partner. The dogs can be advanced trained in areas like Alzheimer’s Assistance, Autism Assistance, Diabetic Alert, FASD Assistance, Facilitated Guide, Facility Assistance, Hearing Ear, Mobility Assistance, Multipurpose Assistance, Seizure Assistance, and Veteran’s Assistance.
While having Flasheart join our family is pure excitement (who doesn’t love a cute little puppy?!), the hardest part will be letting go. However, watching the future graduation, where Flasheart will officially be sent off with his forever family, is the most heartwarming scene you could ever witness. Knowing that our family had such a small role in that person’s life will forever be a blessing to us!
4 Paws has placed over 1000 task-trained service dogs all throughout the world, and they continue to gain more and more national and international attention. I’m sure you can understand that there is a lot of work that goes into this process, and as a non-profit, you may be wondering how they can pull that off. Well, they rely on the assistance of many hundreds of volunteers (like ourselves). I hope that some of you reading this may be wondering how you can become a volunteer, because 4 Paws truly is a wonderful organization! You can head over to their website to check out all of the information on how to get signed up to become a volunteer. They have many different volunteer positions, from just coming in and playing with puppies, to full out foster families. I hope many of you will consider joining the organization!
Be sure to stay tuned, as we will be taking Mr. Flasheart here on many new adventures, and you know I’ll be sharing them all! Make sure you’re following me on Instagram (@kalettehittle), so you don’t miss any of the “Fun with Flasheart”!
BONUS: Netflix fans…you can watch Episode 1 of the Netflix series “Dogs”. A West Chester, Ohio family is featured in the episode and they share their journey with 4 Paws for Ability.
BONUS #2: Every litter of puppies at 4 Paws for Ability has a theme, and Flasheart’s litter was the 100% Wolf theme. 100% Wolf is a cute animated film about a young werewolf (Freddy Lupin) who ends up turning into a poodle during his first outing. Flasheart is the Father of Freedy Lupin! Check out the official trailer from YouTube!