Sunday, August 4, 2013

Small Dog Has Big Paws


“Lover”, a teacup Yorkshire Terrier, from Owosso, Michigan only weighs 4.2 pounds, but his tiny paws have climbed some big hurdles already. In early spring, shortly after he turned a year old, he earned his AKC Canine Good Citizen Award. From there, he logged on the necessary hours and ten supervised therapy dog visits at the Pleasant View Medical Care Facility in Corunna and received his Love on a Leash Award, and Therapy Dog Certification.

“I’m so proud of him,” his owner, Lisa Freeman said. “He’s worked so hard.”
Yorkie’s are known to be one of the toughest breeds to train, which Freeman, a seasoned dog trainer, knows first-hand. “He had some issues to overcome," she said. “He barked constantly and was very hard to housebreak. He also had a lot of fears. But the obedience commands and therapy training he picked up on right away.”

Freeman bought Lover from a local breeder when he was just ten weeks old. “It was Valentines week when we got him. That’s why I named him Lover.” Freeman said. “But also, my dad had just passed away, and I wanted a therapy dog for my mom to bring her joy in her time of grief. The first day we got Lover, we took him to the nursing home to see her, and he melted in her arms and brought a huge smile to her face! We visited a couple other people and he had the same effect on them too.”

In just a few weeks Lover was a regular at the nursing home, and his tiny paws were also was being used in Freeman's dog obedience classes. “People couldn’t believe he was only four months old and obeying even the more advanced commands like ‘leave it’ and a ‘down stay’ from a distance,” Freeman said.

"He gives me therapy too," Freeman said. "So, earlier this year when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and they wanted me to have a biopsy, I told them the only way I would go through the procedure is if Lover could be with me. Medical things terrify me because I often have anaphylactic reactions to drugs."  The nurse in charge, went right to work, pulled the necessary strings and Freeman got the okay.

“We should have him come for everyone’s biopsies,” one of the nurses commented after seeing how Lover laid completely still on the table the entire time, only moving to give his mommy reassuring kisses.

Lover is now Freeman's Registered Service Dog. He recently assisted Freeman to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion, Illinois, where he also assisted in pet therapy. “We were asked to visit rooms where patients were critically ill and near death,” Freeman says, “and one man was miraculously healed and released from the hospital just an hour after our visit!”  

For more information about: pet therapy, obedience training, service dog training, AKC Canine Good Citizens Testing and AKC Star Puppy Classes, please log onto

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Puppy & Dog Classes Huge Success!

All the puppy and dogs in Lisa Freeman’s Dogs that Heel & Heal classes received certificates. The six week classes ran from the first of April through mid-May. Handlers and their dogs learned everything from basic commands such as come and sit to more advanced techniques such as leave it and staying with a safe stranger. On the final night of class there was a test.

“All the pups and dogs in our three classes did very well,” Freeman says. “The owners worked really hard. We had eight puppies in our AKC Star Puppy Class. Six came to the last night of testing. All passed. Two of our puppies and six of our dogs even passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test. Three are going on to do pet therapy work, and one is being trained as a service dog.”

Sadly, a few of the dogs and handlers missed the last class.

Bill & Kelly Batchelor couldn’t make it due to a family emergency. “I offered to mail their certificate to them,” Freeman said. “But Bill wanted to show me what his Golden, Jagger could do.” Although Jagger should have been in Freeman’s basic obedience class from the get-go, due to Bill’s work schedule, he ended up with the more advanced group. “Jagger would barely sit or obey any commands in the beginning and really pulled on the leash,” Freeman said, “but Bill was very patient and persistent and by the end of class, Jagger was sitting, heeling, staying, and on that last night he was even downing on command!”

Needless to say, Jagger was voted “Most Improved” in Freeman’s Advance Obedience Class, even though he wasn’t quite ready to pass the CGC test.

“They are all such wonderful dogs and people,” Freeman said. “If it was up to me, I’d pass them all. But there are strict guidelines for the AKC CGC that as an evaluator I have to follow.”

Freeman will be offering more group classes in September and hopes to include agility. In the meantime she is working privately with owners on bad behaviors, aggression, bolting, and all levels of obedience, pet therapy, and service dog training. 

She will also be at the Owosso Bark Park one Saturday each month for some free tips and training on how to make your dog safer and free from aggression. For more information, please check out her website @

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

RESCUE 9-1-1

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and National Animal Cruelty Prevention Month.

As a lifelong Abuse Survivor and Advocate for Abused people and pets I have a huge heart for those hurting or in need. That's why I founded our non-profit organizations, A Time to Heal and Abuse Bites, and raised over $20,000 for our community, to bring hope, help and healing to all victims and survivors of abuse.

As both a victim and survivor, I have suffered the long-term effects of being abused and bullied. Most people don't know it, but for years I have battled severe panic attacks and agoraphobia due to having Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Yes, unlike most people with this incredibly isolating disorder, I speak, teach, and entertain in both small and large groups of people.

However, none of this would have been possible without my rescue dog, Snickers. It all started when that little brown bundle of fur darted under my van one wintry day. Thankfully I stopped just in time, and he melted in my arms. Before our paws crossed, I felt too afraid to even be around even one person. I barely left my house. Snickers gave me the courage and ability I needed to get out of the deep dark depressing hole I was in and help others by sharing my story. I honestly thought I was rescuing him that day on the side of the road, when truly, has rescued me.

Snickers is retiring from more than 12 years of community service work and has hung up his leash. Sadly, he's battling terminal cancer. I realize now it's just a matter of time. It hurts my heart to think of losing a dog who has given me and others so much to live for.

I know it seems selfish, but lately I've been praying for God to bring me another wonderful, amazing dog, much like Snickers. I believe if He’s done it once, He can do it again. Besides, God understands my growing needs and is the only one who can do the seemingly impossible. Due to my severe allergies, ear issues, and possibly age, I now have balance issues along with P.T.S.D. and find myself in need of trying to find and train a service dog who would be there and be big enough to help steady me, yet at the same time, be a lover of both people and pets, like Snickers has always been.

A couple of weeks after I began praying and really seeking God on this matter, a friend called. She explained that her daughter had found this medium-sized female dog, loose and running the streets. Since the dog was a Rot and Husky mix, being labeled a dangerous dog, she was unable to keep it at the trailer court where she lived. So of course hearing the story I offered to foster the dog and place an ad in the newspaper to find the pup’s owner.

It was dejavu all over. She, like Snickers, was very needy and clung to me like a shadow, following my every move. And I was having second thoughts about keeping her for even a few days. Although very loving and good with people and other pets, like Snickers, in the beginning I was a little concerned over a couple of her behaviors. She had some jealousy aggression with our other three dogs and huge separation anxiety, whining, barking and scratching at the door if I even went to the bathroom.

As an animal lover and dog trainer I went right to work. By assuring her of my love and affection for her, as well as using a mix of discipline and rewards, she has really progressed in the last few days. She has become way more submissive and obedient.

I've only had her five days now, and in that time she has learned to come on command, sit, down, stay, heel and walk on a loose leash without pulling. We are still working on leave it and other advanced skills. She has even walked cheek to cheek beside my four pound Yorkie without showing any signs of aggression on two separate walks.

Last night I took her on her first pet therapy visit to the nursing home and other than getting a little freaked out by the elevator, she was a born natural! I cannot believe no one called to claim her and even more so that someone could dump off such a “precious” pup. That’s what I named her “Precious,” even before I knew the meaning of the word, which clearly is her story and will be used to stop abuse and bullying in our workshops! (Precious Means: 
of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly).

Precious with my son, Jeremiah, who was nearly bullied to death in high school

So, since no one has called to claim our Precious little girl, I see once again that God has come to my rescue, answered my prayers, and brought the perfect dog for me so that together Precious and I can continue rescuing others from lifestyles of abuse.

So why not rescue a pet today? You might find that you’re the one being rescued!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Easter Beagle Pays It Forward

The residents at the Shiawassee Medical Care Facility got a surprise visit from two furry friends this Easter morning. As The Easter Bunny, (AKA Melissa Rosenberger) and the Easter Beagle, (AKA Snickers—a rescued, retired, Award Winning Therapy Dog) hopped through the facility, faces lit up, smiles brightened, and laughter erupted throughout each corridor.

A dog with bunny ears is quite a sight. Although waddling like a duck, more than walking like a dog, or hopping like a bunny, Snickers, now 13, is still glad to make the rounds. Covered in painful lumps and a stiff arthritic tailbone, you’d never know he is suffering though. With a wagging tail he approaches each and every person with kisses and affection.

Snickers, in his bunny get up, has been bringing therapy to children and adults for nearly a decade!

“For years we did an Easter fundraiser to raise money for needy and abused families,” Lisa Freeman says, who is also the dog’s owner. “Thanks to everyone’s amazing support, we were able to give hundreds of filled Easter Baskets and gift certificates to hurting families. Even more, we were able to show them that someone loves and cares for them. I had no idea when I rescued Snickers, that he would be rescuing so many others.”

Over the years, Snickers has helped raised over $20,000 for the local community. “A portion of that money, nearly $6,000 was raised for the Shiawassee County Humane Society,” Freeman says. “Snickers was elected Mayor for getting the most votes and raising the most funds.” Freeman and Snickers founded the first 5K9 Walk in 2009 for the Shiawassee Humane Society, as part his Mayoral campaign. The walk, now called the 5K9 Day, is still being held annually.

But this dog’s paws have made tracks to stop bullying too. Snicker’s is the mascot for the Abuse Bites Program that has held fun, educational, interactive anti-bullying workshops all over Michigan. “Snickers always steals the show with his Harley Davidson hat and his Bully Buster Leather Jacket,” Freeman says, “and of course his amazing trick presentation.”

Snickers learned all the tricks for the program in just ten days. And he also passed the pet therapy test and became certified through Therapy Dogs International with just ten days of training. In a matter of months he began winning awards too, such as TDIA (for 50 therapy visits) and TDIAO (for more than 150 therapy visits). “From there, Snickers started helping me train other dogs and handlers for pet therapy,” Freeman says. “Snickers has definitely been paying it forward his entire life. He’s an example for all of us, at Easter, and all year through.”

*For more information about Dog & Pup Obedience, Canine Good Citizen Testing, and Pet Therapy Classes and Certification, contact Lisa Freeman @ 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Put An End to Abuse & Suffering

Lately I've been so attacked. I'm just getting my life together after the loss of my precious son, Brian, my father, and my sister, Sue, who lost her battle with cancer just before Christmas.

It's hard losing those that we love.

My son passed away from heart complications, my father due to COPD, and my sister due to cancer. Although it was hard to let them spread their wings toward heaven. It was equally hard to watch them suffer day after day.

Sadly, suffering is part of life.

But there is a type of suffering that we can do something about, and even prevent. Abuse. A five letter word that is so misunderstood. Abuse, bullying, violence, are all forms of power and control. Some think it's love. And this is how someone acts when they love you.

Love is not Abuse. Love is not bullying. Love is not violence.

The Bible gives a really clear picture of what love is in I Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. 

If each of us walked in this true definition of love, there would be no abuse, bullying or violence. Can you imagine if we all "loved" others the way God wants us to? WOW! I can!

That gets me excited! I hope it gets you pumped up too. Because together we can put an end to abuse and suffering, by loving the abuse, bullying and violence out of this world!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!

My husband and I were blessed to be able to get away for New Year's Eve. We celebrated at a hotel in Lansing.

It was very awkward for us, as this was our first time doing this, so we didn't know anything or anyone. Thanks to our clock not working right in our room, we were later than everyone else for hors d'oeuvres so when we arrived at the event, the line for the food was long, but all the tables in the room, that sat anywhere from 6-12 had been taken.

Memories from school flooded back, of being the new kid, and that awkward moment of trying to find a seat in the crowded lunchroom with everyone staring at you. Wondering which table you should go to and be accepted.

After nervously scanning the room, I quickly glanced at the first table inside the door to our left. There were two couples on one end of the round table and it looked as though there were at least three empty seats. "Would it be okay if we set with you or are those seats taken?" I asked.

Everyone welcomed us to sit fine. But you know that kind of awkward silence that fills the air? Yep, you guessed it, we were right in the middle of it. They kept talking in their little group, and left us out. I thought, "This is going to be a long night."

I had really prayed that we'd have fun, because John and I hardly ever get out alone together. So I was really glad, when we were able to break the ice with some small talk, which ended up leading to a night of hysterical laughter and new friendships.

When the couples moved to a bigger table with more of their friends, they invited us to join them. And one of the couples even tried to take pictures of John and I while we were dancing with our messed up camera (all pics they took were blurry!).
Yep, that's my back and John's hands!

This evening could have been a disaster or the blessing it was.

Every day we have the choice to accept and include others and also to be accepted and included. It's hard sometimes after being rejected so long (like I have been) to take that first awkward step, but it is that initial step that will set us free and get us walking in a new direction.

I've battled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder all of my adult life. But this year, I'm forcing myself to step into the awkward.

It's out with the OLD and in the NEW! I hope you will do the same :)

God bless you all and Happy New Year!