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Mason's super dogs, 'Scooby Doo'
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A group of local boy scouts are trying to earn the title of "Mason's Super Dogs." But first they have to catch some kind of dog.
They spend their time trning and playing with the dogs at the Utah Animal and Conservation Science Center in Heber, which owns five dogs who have volunteered to help prove that service dogs can become best friends with a little time and patience.
"It's very rewarding when the dog chooses you," sd volunteer Jim Schoon. "They just do what they do for the kids and the patients who come in."
The dogs live and work at the center, where they are carefully selected based on size, personality, age and breed. Staffers put each dog through various trning programs and test their loyalty and obedience by letting the dogs live and work with children and adults who have certn disabilities and are part of the program.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has been supporting the program for about five years, but the goal of helping local disabled veterans is newly focused on Mason's youth scout program.
Volunteers from the Utah Office of Service Dog Deployment are working with the boys to rse awareness of service dogs and recruit and trn the scouts to be the Mason's super dogs.
"We want to build a program that has longevity and it continues to teach what it means to be a service dog," sd volunteer Mary Jane Dutton.
"We teach the kids about what a service dog is, and then we work with them to learn to recognize the things that are a dog's basic needs," she sd.
The children who live in Mason City are participating in the program.
The dogs range in age from a 14-month-old puppy to an 8-year-old male who weighs 150 pounds and can't walk.
Each volunteer works with one child and has the opportunity to give the dog personalized trning and a name, Dutton sd.
Dutton is a physical therapy student who volunteered because she has a family member who is a disabled veteran.
"I want to be involved in something like this because I wanted to do something positive and helping to show how people can be successful in life, even with disabilities," she sd.
The children's scout leader is a high school sophomore who volunteers because he grew up with a dog and wanted to help another family.
"I knew that I would be able to take something that's not his to make it a team and make it his," sd volunteer Cody Schaller, 16.
The Mason's dogs are trning to guide children who are blind and those who are visually impred, and also to be part of a therapeutic support dog team.
"We don't believe in having a dog that just does one thing. We want the dog to become part of a team and give service, whether it's going to a service dog team or another situation," sd trner Dutton. "For our program, we want our children to grow up with all the senses and a better sense of the world around them."
Dutton sd she started trning the first dog about six weeks ago.
The next step is to go to the hospital and have him trned to help a person who is injured or has a wound.
"That's the goal. Right now he's just a ball of hr," Dutton sd.
If all goes according to plan, the dog will become a service dog and will assist others.
"I think it's really going to have a big effect on a child's life," Dutton sd. "They're going to see that you can take something like a ball of hr and that really doesn't make a difference, and make something out of it."
The next step is to get the right size harness on the dog, which is a little more complicated because it is so small.
It takes about 20 minutes for the trning and another 10 minutes to teach the dog to go to its mark, according to Dutton.
About 200 children in the program are wting to trn their own dog, with four already doing so.
To volunteer, call the Mason Police Department at 815-863-1610.
For more information about the Mason Police Department's Youth Service Dog Program, call Cody Dutton at 815-863-2701 or eml [email protected]