Danette Jensen lives in Goodridge, Minn., about 70 miles from the Canadian border. She and her husband run DJ’s K9 Country, a boarding facility with more than 20 kennels and a large training room.
I guess you could say Danette is dog crazy. She is certainly an expert in the field. She has a radio show and people call in with their canine quandaries.
But perhaps more than caring for the dogs and training them, Danette loves the unique way she gets to help others through her calling. She shared with me one of the many stories she has about pairing a pup up with the perfect family.
“I have trained dogs since I was 8 years old, starting at the 4-H level and working my way up to becoming a professional dog trainer and behaviorist.
I train service dogs to help with numerous types of situations, including those who are wheelchair bound or suffer from PTSD, seizures, diabetes, emotional disorders and autism to name a few.
I grew up with a brother with special needs who had frequent grand mal seizures. He would often hide, and my mother would tear around the house saying, ‘Can’t you train a dog to find him?’ So now, search and rescue is a large part of the autism training I do.
I received a call from a woman who sounded tired, like she was running out of options. This is not the first or last parent to contact me in this emotional state.
The mother has four children with post-traumatic stress disorder, and she was hoping to find a service dog.
I blurted out that I had two dogs that might work for such an occasion and agreed to meet the family.
The son, who was to be paired with the dog, smiled from ear to ear and reacted with such excitement that he brought his mother to tears. She hadn’t seen him get excited or smile like that since the traumatic incident years earlier.
I drove away, praying I hadn’t opened my mouth and given false hope to the boy, only to see him get disappointed again. I could not handle doing that to this poor child.
Two days later, the family made the three hour drive to spend the day getting to know my dog. I repeatedly said there were no guarantees that this would be the dog for him, but I hoped God was at work!
The meeting went amazingly well, so well that I even let him take the dog that day.
That night, the dog got very anxious and was running around his room. Come to find out, the boy needed to go to the hospital for compacted bowels, which is common for PTSD sufferers.
From that time forward the boy and his dog have become quite the team.
We have now paired the brother with his own dog, and they going through the bonding portion of their training.”
Danette tells me that the first brother and his dog have passed the Public Access test and they are now a certified team, created by kindness.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.