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2013 Calendar Cover Canines Tells All

Abby, the 2013 Caring Canines and Furry Friends calendar cover dog, is more than just a pretty face. We sat down with Abby, and she shared the details of her amazing journey from drop-out pup to superstar.



Foundation: First of all, congratulations on being the 2013 calendar cover dog. You must be excited.

Abby: Oh, I am! Can’t you tell by the way my tail is wagging?

Foundation: Tell us about your early days.

Abby: I was ambitious even as a puppy. I went through the HAWAII Canines for Independence training on Maui, and I was looking forward to becoming a service dog for a physically disabled person. I studied hard. I spent time being socialized with volunteer families, including country singer Willie Nelson. I hate to brag, but I gave him the idea for a song called, “Mamma, Don’t Let Your Baby Grow Up to Be Canines.” He changed it to “Cowboys” and took all the credit for it. Unfortunately, I ultimately was dropped from the program. They said I was too friendly and too sociable with people and, therefore, lacked the focus to be a service dog.

Foundation: That must have been disappointing.

Abby: Well, it was at first. But then I went to live with Dr. Albert Yazawa. What dog wouldn’t love that! Anyway, he started taking me to work with him at Maluhia Hospital; and I discovered that my sociable nature—which made me undesirable as a service dog—made me a terrific therapy dog. Now I go to Maluhia Hospital in the morning and Leahi Hospital in the afternoons. I love it! Dr. Yazawa has a lot of patients with dementia who can’t remember anything, but they never forget my name. A lot of them grew up with pets and really enjoy having me around. I hate to brag, but they get something from me that they don’t get from other humans…and I don’t mean fleas. (That’s a little dog humor!) Seriously, I give them unconditional love.

Foundation: What do you like best about your work?

Abby: Well, the treats are a nice perk, although Dr. Yazawa tries to discourage people from feeding me too much. I guess my favorite part is when I help someone who has been uncommunicative open up or when someone seems sad and I make him or her smile. I also like helping Dr. Yazawa connect with patients. When I come in the room with him, there’s automatically something to talk about; and, especially if the person is an animal lover, there is a connection.

Foundation: You’re 12 years old now, Abby, although you don’t look a day over six. Do you ever think about retiring?

Abby: Oh, no! I’m still excited to go to work on Monday mornings! How many humans can say that after a long career? My work keeps me young at heart. Of course, I must admit that I do feel my age now and then. I’m not as quick as I used to be, and I tire more easily. Dr. Yazawa has thoughtfully put a bed in his office so that I can nap when I need to during the day. That helps recharge my energy, and I get to spend a little quality time with my best friend.

Foundation: What does it mean to you to be the 2013 calendar cover dog?

Abby: It’s a real honor. I hope that it will inspire other humans who work in long term facilities to take their dogs to work with them. Of course, this work isn’t right for every dog. But for those who have the talent for it and enjoy it as much as I do, it’s a dream job. Every time I make someone smile or laugh, especially someone who hasn’t smiled or laughed in a while, there is nothing better.