Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Great Article in the Greencastle paper about Jackson and Kristen

Training Earley with Companion Dogs Plus

Friday, March 28, 2014
Kristen Earley has spent spring break training with her new diabetic service dog "Jackson." Jackson was provided training and matched up with Kristen through Companion Dogs Plus (CDP), a unique assistance dog and pet adoption organization in Greencastle. She has been working every day with CDP owner Cynthia Mustaine, visiting local stores and restaurants to work on her commands and adjust to life with man's best friend/diabetic alert device
A dog's nose is up to 100,000 times stronger than a human's. To put that in perspective, if those numbers applied to sight, what a human would see at one-third of a mile a dog could see from around 3,000 miles.
And now thanks to Companion Dogs Plus (CDP), the Earley family will be getting a leg up in the fight against diabetes, with a little help from a rescue dog named Jackson.
Jackson is a Catahoula Leopard Dog that was found abandoned along with his brother at an apartment complex in Greencastle. The dogs were taken by Companion Dogs Plus and given training to become assistance dogs. While his brother became a therapy dog, Jackson has been trained to sniff out changes in blood-glucose levels, which makes him not just man's best friend, but a diabetic's best friend as well.
Tracy Earley does not have diabetes, while husband Rod and daughter Kristen both have type 1 diabetes; the type individuals are born with.
Rod Earley was diagnosed at just 18 months of age and has worn a blood-glucose device for most of his life. The device he currently uses is the state-of-art Dexcom G4, the same model that diabetic Indy car racer Charlie Kimball uses.
Kristen is 14 years old and was diagnosed with diabetes at age 11 and for a while, tried wearing a blood-glucose monitoring device. But the Earleys began looking into other options when they learned that kids were teasing Kristen because of the device.
"With Jackson, she wouldn't have to (wear it)," Rod Earley explained.
After researching diabetic assistance dog providers around the country, the Earley family was surprised to learn that Companion Dogs Plus was actually right here in Greencastle. Upon further research they learned that the company wasn't just local, but that they had a unique business model among therapy and assistance dog programs: they rescue and train shelter dogs instead of puppies to help curb unnecessary dogs in the population.
Cynthia Mustaine, of Greencastle, started Companion Dogs Plus in November 2012. The 501(c)3 non-profit rescues from kill and no-kill shelters, as well as those found abandoned, and provides training to all the dogs they rescue. Some dogs will be taught basic commands and manners to be adopted out as pets, while others will be given more specialized training to become therapy and medical assistance dogs such as Jackson.
Not all dogs and families are right for each other, an understanding that helps make CDP unique. Mustaine takes extra care to "match up" dogs and families to ensure a connection is made between them which is an important foundation to forming a bond between the canine and its new family.
"It's all about relationships," Mustaine explained, "You've got to find that right match."
Jackson had met other potential families before meeting with Kristen, but there was a connection between them that just hadn't happened with others.
"You could see it in her eyes," Rod Earley said, elaborating that when his daughter and Jackson met, she even petted him differently than other dogs.
Matching up families, and training dogs is only part of the process, Mustaine understands that "training people" is equally important and challenging.
For Kristen, that training began over her spring break. And while Jackson and the Earleys have spent time together, this week marks the beginning of Jackson's integrations with the family, the beginning of Kristen being more in charge.
Mustaine goes to great lengths to ensure all lifestyle transitions with an assistance dog go smoothly, and that is why CDP ultimately retains a level of ownership over the dogs they adopt out. That ownership means CDP is invested in the family-dog relationship for the long haul, staying active with clients throughout the changing environments of life.
"If she's going off to college, the dog is going with her," Mustaine explained. CDP will be there to help with challenges that such major changes imply.
The genesis of CDP comes from a very personal place in Mustaine's life. With a family member diagnosed with autism and another who passed away due to complications from diabetes, she has experienced how difficult life can be for a person with the types of complications that many of us never have to consider.
Mustaine is also acutely aware of the abandonment cycle that many dogs experience.
Often it is the same story: cute puppy becomes a teenager, needs regular exercise and training, owner feels overwhelmed by added responsibility, owner surrenders dog to shelter. In a kill-shelter, the dog eventually, well, you get the idea.
Companion Dogs Plus rescues these types of dogs and makes them more adoptable by providing basic training for pets, and specialized training for assistance dogs.
Cost is often a major hurdle for families seeking assistance dogs. A typical medical assistance dog can range from $20,000 - $50,000 depending on the dog's specialization. Companion Dogs Plus still charges $20,000 but the company has a sponsorship program that helps clients navigate the process by having the family raise an initial minimum of $5,000 to receive the dog, then they work together to come up with the remainder through sponsorships and fundraising.
The Earley family was fortunate enough to get complete funding for Jackson. Donations from several local companies including Old National Bank, HOP Communications and HMSB Insurance; assistance from local community members including a bake sale held by the staff of Old National Bank and several donations from out-of-state friends and associates was enough to cover the remaining cost of Jackson, but not all dogs or families have such success.
For now, Kristen, Jackson and the rest of the Earleys will continue to train, adapt, and learn from their new family members.
And Companion Dogs Plus will be there too, helping them along the way.
For more information on adopting a companion or how to help sponsor an assistance animal, persons may contact Cynthia Mustaine at 317-903-2545 or at

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Team Training with Parker and his boy

This week, Parker moved in with his family in Chicago.   Sandra, one of our trainers,  worked with Parker and his boy, Sawyer. 
   Here they are at the library

 To keep Sawyer from wandering, he is tethered to Parker.  Most of the time, an adult family member will handle Parker's leash, but sometimes, Sawyer can focus.  Together dog and boy accomplish amazing things.
We are very proud of both Parker and Sawyer.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Benson needs a home!

Meet Benson
 When we rescued Benson, a two year old German Shepherd, he came to us with a number of medical problems.  The first problem was his left eye.  There is a fancy name for what was wrong, but the only way I understood it is that his eyelid was turned in instead of out.  His eye lashes were constantly scratching his eye.  This guy has been in pain all his life.  He did not know anything but pain.  We quickly had our amazing vet, Dr. Shepherd from Four Loving Paws in Brazil, Indiana, operate on Benson's eye.
 Now Benson is pain free for the first time in his life.  Along with fixing his eye and being neutered, Benson is now up to date on all his shots.  

Benson has gained over 10 pounds since we rescued him.  He is strong enough to handle the heartworm treatment.  We need to get him the treatment now...the sooner the better....and we are asking for your help.  The treatment cost is now $500.00.  Please help with Benson's treatment.  He has come a long way in a short time and with your help, Benson can be completely healthy.
Help Benson 

Once he is healthy, Benson 
will be adopted out as a pet


Companion Dogs Plus is a 501 (c) 3,
 your donation is tax deductible.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bloomington Handler Training

Parker will soon move in with his family in Chicago.  Parker has been training as an Autism Support Service Dog for a 10 year old boy named Sawyer.  Sawyer's Mom will be the main handler for Parker.  In public, Sawyer and Parker will be tethered to decrease Sawyer's stress level.  The goal is to make it possible for Sawyer to go with the family to the grocery, restaurants, school, and all family events. 
 Along with advanced service dog skills, Parker has also been trained to track Sawyer and alert the family to his location.
To help with the transition of living with a Service Dog, Sawyer's Mom, Becky, and Sawyer's nanny, Olivia, came down to Bloomington, Indiana for the weekend to learn how to handle Parker in public.
In a couple weeks, we will add Sawyer to the team and work with the family for at least 8 weeks in the process of certification.
Below are some photos from our weekend of handler training.     

 Sawyer & Olivia and Jackson & Becky

Becky and Jackson are tangled

 Olivia and Parker

Jackson and Sandra, his trainer, found some interesting smells
 on the sidewalk.....Parker and Becky just kept going.

 A sidewalk conversation

waiting to cross the street

Jackson took a nap under the table at the India resturant


Parker took a different position for his nap


Even Mirko joined us for lunch.

Jackson was not thrilled with the glass elevator.  Parker did not think it was a big deal.

The fountain was cool


Sandra and Jackson

Parker showing off his elevator skills


Becky and Parker


Parker even spent the night at the Bed & Breakfast

Parker is too cute

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Diesel found a home

Diesel was adopted.  Thank you to the Todd Family for giving Diesel a forever home.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Help us raise the funds for a home for the dogs

Sometimes an opportunity comes along and if you do not grab it fast, it disappears.  This is what is happening to us now.  We have the opportunity to buy the perfect kennel at a reasonable price.  We can house 24 dogs in this kennel.  Our current kennel only has room for 6.  With a REAL kennel we can save many more dogs (we saved 50 last year).  We can train more dogs for Service for Autism Support, Mobility Assistance and Diabetic Support. 

Will you help?  If everyone who reads this today, contributes $5.00, we can make dreams come true.