At age 3, our daughters were accepted into an outpatient therapy program through the local hospital, Saint Alphonsus. The facility was new and the therapists top notch but there was one aspect that we didn’t know. A dog was used in the therapy sessions! It was Ovelle. The girls bonded with Ovelle instantly. After a day of therapy the girls would use the sign language they learned to represent “Ovelle.” It warmed our hearts in an unimaginable way. All the kids in the program worked harder and got better results when Ovelle was included in their therapy session. So, when Diane asked if I would join her board I couldn’t say ‘yes’ fast enough. Since then our family has received our own service dog from Canine Companions for Independence, Zane. – Ron Gambassi, Dustin’s Paw Board, Member since 2006 

 

It is my honor and privilege to support someone like Diane, who is so passionate, knowledgeable and committed to making a difference in the lives of these children and their families. She is tireless in focusing on the long term goal of each patient’s independence. The unconditional love of Diane and these highly-trained dogs, Ovelle and Prairie, and their gentle urging has brought remarkable results for countless disabled children and adults in their physical, occupational and speech therapy goals. I can honestly say that in my lifetime I have never met someone so dedicated to the goodness of helping others until I met Diane. Her journey with Dustin, Geralyn, Ovelle and Prairie has changed so many lives and brightened so many days. She never seems to run out of energy! She is amazing! – Melody Dean, Dustin’s Paw Board, Member since 2008

 

My son Sam started going to a Saint Alphonsus program called Jumpstart in 2006.  That is where I first became acquainted with Dustin’s Paw. I observed how Ovelle produced little miracles for all the children and especially Sam. I was very impressed. 

Sam has cerebral palsy.  He walked with an impaired gait and used a walker, was non-verbal and developmentally delayed.  As he went to therapy at Jumpstart, he fell in love with Ovelle and would work harder in therapy if he was allowed to walk with her, communicate with her, and just play with her.  He started using an augmented communication device for speech and loved talking about and with his best friend Ovelle.  By the time Sam left Jumpstart, he did not need the aid of a walker.  He would walk Ovelle down the hall holding her leash with smiles and giggles that just warmed your soul.  I have no doubt that Ovelle inspired Sam so much that by the time he entered kindergarten he was able to be mainstreamed into a regular classroom with minor modifications.  However, it was not just Sam that I saw who benefitted from Ovelle, but all the children who attended Jumpstart.  As Sam’s sixth birthday approached the end of Jumpstart came.  I was overwhelmed with joy to hear that Ovelle would still work with Sam in outpatient therapy, but was wondering if he could not get his own assistance dog. 

Once I approached Diane about the possibility of Sam getting a skilled companion dog, she jumped right in and started advising me and helping my wife and I with the paper work.  Diane has a drive and belief that dogs benefit everyone. It was just contagious.  By this time Diane was working another dog along with Ovelle.  The new dog’s name was Prairie.  Although Prairie would never rate as high as Ovelle in Sam’s eyes, he loved working with him too.

 Right before we left to get Sam’s dog, Galba, Diane approached me to join Dustin’s Paw as a board member.  I was compelled and honored to join. It was not until now that I realized how much time Diane puts in and without pay.  Her devotion to Dustin’s Paw was as much of a miracle in my eyes as was what Ovelle and Prairie do for the kids.  I quickly realized that there is a lot of paper work that goes into a non-profit organization and am now very pleased with how I can assist in making Dustin’s Paw continue and lighten the load for Diane and the other board members. – Kenneth O’Donnell, Dustin’s Paw Board Member since 2011

 

 

 

Allison Demerest, Dustin’s Paw Board Member since 2011