CHANGING TEARS INTO SMILES
IN THE BEGINNING

By Ann Butrick
Dedicated to the memory of my husband Jack Butrick

Late in the 1970's, my husband, Jack told me of his desire to own a Doberman. He took me to my first dog show in Cheyenne (Wyoming) where I was introduced to one of these beautiful dogs and we talked at length to the breeder. We heard about a local litter in late Summer of 1979, and went to see them. It was a visit that was meant to be. Jack said later it was a case of "Love at first sight" or maybe he should have said first sniff. One of the puppies positioned himself under Jack's feet and refused to move. When the other puppies tried to come near, he "told" them to "go away". He was a beautiful red male. The children of the family had named him Stormy as he was born during a thunder storm, and we saw no reason to change it. This was the beginning of a very special partnership that would last all too short of a time.

Stormy loved working with Jack and a special bond developed between them. He earned his C.D. (Companion Dog title) in 3 shows and let Jack know that would be it for the Obedience ring. Jack continued to train Stormy for tracking, concentrating on Search & Rescue training. Stormy became proficient in both air and ground scent work. The pair went to Utah to participate in avalanche training. At one point the handlers were to be buried in snow and their dog was sent to find them. Stormy made short work of that exercise, locating his master in record time. Jack related that he felt Stormy jump on him and immediately began digging him out, and taking hold of his parka proceeded to pull with all his strength. There was no way he was going to allow Jack to remain buried.

Jack had read about Therapy Dogs and the wonderful things the dogs did. They soon embarked on a very special career that was rewarding for both of them. Jack was a Shrine Clown and the two of them entertained thousands of children and adults during Stormy's all too short lifetime. They appeared in many parades around the area and were regulars in the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days parades. Stormy & Jack were also regular visitors in the area nursing homes and the V.A. Stormy even received a special award and a plaque from Cheyenne Health Care Center proclaiming him "Therapy Dog Of The Year" for 1984.

In the Summer of 1984, my special Doberman, Cricket and I started going with Jack and Stormy on their visits. They were quite a pair, the beautiful red male and the petite black female. When Cricket was a year old, she was officially registered as a Therapy Dog. They worked well together and a bond developed between them.

Early in 1985, Stormy was diagnosed with Osteo Sarcoma and lost a front leg to the disease. The first night after we brought Stormy home from Colorado State University where the surgery was performed, Cricket came into our bedroom and woke us up. Assuming she needed to go outside, we followed her into the living room, where she immediately laid down. Stormy was standing by the front door; it was he that needed to go outside.

The next 9 months proved to be a very special time to many, including this very courageous dog. It was during this time that Jack and Stormy became part of the pilot program for the Prescription Pet program at Childrens Hospital in Denver, Colorado. Jack always went in his clown make up which delighted the kids. They felt a bond with the beautiful 3 legged Doberman who had lost a leg to cancer, and still performed the tricks that Jack had taught him. We lost Stormy in December of 1985 to the cancer that claimed his leg at only 6 1/2 years old. We had bred Stormy to a beautiful lady named Duffy, owned by our good friends Debby & Robin Courtier. The family tradition was carried on through his daughter, Holly, and son, JR, and Granddaughter Cassie, (Holly was her Mom). JR and Cassie also became regulars in the local parades as well as the nursing homes. Finally in 1991, we were allowed to bring our dogs to the local hospitals as well as the VA hospital.

It has been over 18 years since Jack started the local program in the nursing homes in Cheyenne, and 9 years since we were first allowed in the hospitals. Jack passed away with a heart attack in July of 1992, going on to Rainbow Bridge to be with his beloved Stormy. I lost Cricket to cancer in 1995, and Jr also to cancer in 1997. Cassie is gone now as well going to Rainbow Bridge in February, 1999. It now falls to Otto, Cassie's brother and Maggie, who came to live with me in the Fall of 1997 to carry on.

Jack and I co-founded Therapy Dogs Incorporated in July, 1990. We had been part of another national therapy dog group for some years and made the decision to start another organization and implement some ideas we thought were important. The Logo and the Motto were Jack's idea and the dogs depicted were real as well as the lady in the walker. The Rottweiler, Ragan, was co-owned by Jenny Sellers and India Melson of Cheyenne, WY. The Doberman was Cassie, and the American Pit Bull Terrier, Rocky, belonged to President Teri Meadows, of Golden, Colorado. The lady in the walker was Margo Dexter, who at the time was the Activities Director at a local nursing home. The art work was done by one of our members and friend, Joan Segler of Peoria Heights, IL.

We are very proud of what has been accomplished and have never lost sight of the fact that it was Jack's dream we have all helped to make a reality as we continue to: CHANGE TEARS INTO SMILES, HELP THE FORGOTTEN TO LAUGH.

 

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