Once again the Downeast Dog Scouts have earned the Silver President’s Volunteer Service Award for the year 2013! The Downeast Dog Scouts Troop 159 is a 501c3 non-profit subgroup of the Dog Scouts of America that was established in September 2007 as an all-volunteer affiliate of the Dog Scouts of America. It is the first Dog Scouts of America troop in Maine, serving Hancock County. As a group, troop members gave 541 hours of service to their communities. Troop leader, Robyn Douglas, was awarded the Silver President’s Volunteer Service Award for completion of 343 hours of volunteer service.
Downeast Dog Scouts Troop 159 members and their dogs provided a total of 541 hours of service in activities such as: therapy dog visits, Children Reading to Dogs Programs, school visits, community educational activities, walkathons, and clean up days. Troop members visited as representatives of their respective therapy organizations at Mount Desert Island Hospital, Birch Bay Retirement Village, Tremont School, Northeast Harbor Library, Camp Beech Cliff, and the Blue Hill Library. Children Reading to Dogs Programs increase literacy skills and boost the self esteem of young readers. Imagine how relaxing and fun it is to cozy up to a warm and welcoming dog that loves to hear stories! Visiting therapy dogs also help to relieve stress, improve health and recovery from illness. Young and old alike have benefitted from the dogs’ endeavors!
In 2013 the Downeast Dog Scouts sponsored the Idita-Read program at the Tremont School, Ashley Bryan School, Frenchboro School, Blue Hill Library and Northeast Harbor Library. The Idita-Read is an incentive reading project for school age readers offered through the nonprofit World Wide Idea’s Read-A-Route Program. Mirroring Alaska’s biggest annual sled dog race, the Idita-Readers relied on reading minutes to travel the distance along the Iditarod trail from Anchorage to Nome. The program was a tremendous success from all accounts by readers, parents, teachers and librarians. Several students from each Idita-Read team at the Tremont School had the opportunity to read to the Dog Scouts dogs. Frenchboro School students even read via Skype with troop member Nancy Morrison and her Golden Retrievers, Raya and Rebel. Children logged a total of 134,504 reading minutes or 2,242 hours of reading! Reading is the cornerstone of all learning and some of the troop dogs are also Reading Education Assistance Dogs. The Idita-Read is a fantastic project for a group that loves dogs, the outdoors and the promotion of positive canine relationships through education and reading with children.
Community service is a fundamental part of the Downeast Dog Scouts mission.
In 2013, the Downeast Dog Scouts participated in several walkathons: Idita-Walk, Dog Scouts of America Fido Frost-A-Thon, Dog Scouts of America Hike-A-Thon, and Paws On Parade. The Downeast Dog Scouts troop also participated in Take Pride in Acadia Day, when troop members clean up after less responsible dog owners at Little Long Pond in Seal Harbor, Maine
Pam Bourque and her dog Jillian presented a reading program at an Early Childhood Education class at the College of the Atlantic. Pam and her dogs, Lily and Jillian, also visited with students at the University of Maine Orono Campus for Campus Comfort Canines events. Pam is also a member of the statewide Raising Readers Book Selection Committee. In addition to the troop’s Children Reading to Dogs Program, Pam visits Birch Bay Retirement Village with her Labrador Retrievers.
In addition to Reading With Gracie sessions, Pier Carros organized a “Dog Tales” program at the Blue Hill Library for children to create their own stories with bone shaped board books. Pier and her dogs, Bri and Gracie, led monthly hikes throughout Hancock County for the troop and members of the community.
Denise Houseknecht and her Great Pyrenees Cirra regularly visit residents at Birch Bay Retirement Village. Cirra earned her Dog Scouts of America Therapy Dog Merit Badge for her visitation.
Robyn Douglas and Cirra provide Children Reading to Cirra Programs at the Northeast Harbor for Mount Desert Elementary School students and local library readers during the school year. During the summer months Cirra readers have been able to read to Cirra at Camp Beech Cliff and as part of the Northeast Harbor Library’s Summer Reading Program. Cirra earned her Dog Scouts of America Therapy Dog- Reading Merit Badge for her accomplishments. Robyn serves as the Downeast Dog Scouts Troop Leader coordinating the troop’s activities.
For the sixth year, the Downeast Dog Scouts Troop 159 has been recognized as a “Top Dog Troop” for 2013 by the Dog Scouts of America. The Dog Scouts of America Troop Recognition Program rewards troops for being active and helping in their community. The Dog Scouts of America is a national 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to educating people about responsible dog ownership, the important role of the human/canine bond and to challenge people and dogs to learn how to better serve each other. All troops work toward the goals and mission of the Dog Scouts of America while focusing on the needs and interests of each local community. Information about the Dog Scouts of America is available at www.dogscouts.org
The Downeast Dog Scouts Troop 159 offers a local membership program for people who advocate responsible dog ownership and enjoy participating in dog centered activities. Troop members and their dogs learn new skills working toward the Dog Scouts of America merit badges. The Downeast Dog Scouts Troop promotes the positive treatment of animals, advocating only the most modern behavioral approaches to training. Promotion of responsible dog ownership and involvement in the community lies at the heart of this group. Maine is fortunate to have a thriving dog community in which dogs are largely involved in the lives of their people and the troop dogs are fine examples of the value that pets can have for families and the community at large.
For more information about joining the Downeast Dog Scouts contact Robyn Douglas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207 266-5807.