Animals

Cat Named ‘D-O-G’ Helps Pups in Training Become Service Dogs

They say cats and dogs aren’t supposed to be friends, but here’s one cat who’s proving everybody wrong. It started when the adorable black-and-white feline wandered into Support Dog Inc. (SDI) — a St. Louis-based nonprofit that provides service dogs to those with disabilities — and found himself among a room full of canines: 23 to be exact. The cat, whose name is DOG, pronounced dee-OH-jee (yes, really!), had previously run wild around the grounds of a bed and breakfast in Netherfield Natural Farm in Kansas before randomly bumping into SDI staff member Nadine Wenig, who fell hopelessly in love with his sweet little face.

“DOG came to the organization almost by fate,” said Anne Klein, the CEO of SDI. “Nadine Wenig, SDI’s director of canine services, was attending an event near an old barn where a litter of feral cats had been born. Never touched, loved, or fed by humans, a tiny kitten marched right up to Wenig and started nuzzling her leg. One car ride, several health screenings, and a few reluctant dog-cat meetings later, DOG has become a permanent fixture at SDI.”

And now, DOG seems to have made himself quite comfortable living among all those dogs. You would think Wenig would be worried about bringing a small kitten into a room full of dogs, but luckily for SDI, the organization had two major things working in its favor. “Our dogs are extremely well-trained, and DOG is absolutely fearless,” said Klein. “Plus, he thinks he is a dog. He prefers dog food to his own, he sleeps in the dogs’ beds, and he likes to chew on leashes. He’s just one of the pack…until he struts off to destroy some office supplies or lounge in one of his many kitty condos.”

DOG the cat

(Photo Credit: Support Dogs Inc.)

Not only that, DOG has found himself a job of sorts: Aside from being cute and cuddly, DOG actually helps train the service dogs.

“Support Dogs’ mission is to train dogs to help people who have a variety of needs, and sometimes those people have other pets in the home,” Klein said. “DOG is the perfect learning tool — he’s energetic, he’s playful, he’s excellent at testing the dogs’ ability to stay calm and focused in any situation. We didn’t plan it, but he does a very important job.”

Support Dogs Inc.

Founded in 1981, Support Dogs Inc. provides highly-skilled service dogs and hearing dogs to individuals with disabilities, therapy dogs services to at-risk and ill populations, and reading assistance to area students and educational programming to schools and businesses.

To help those with disabilities, SDI’s service dogs are trained to complete mobility-related tasks, such as opening doors, helping their owner get undressed, and retrieving dropped objects, in addition to a variety of other everyday-tasks. SDI’s hearing dogs are also heavily trained, from learning the difference between an alarm clock to a knock on the door.

To learn more about Support Dogs Inc., visit supportdogs.org.

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