No matter what I read in the news or what is going on in the world, I choose to believe that the world is kind and that people are good. Being e-connected to Jan Murry Lopez, the President and Founder of B.E.S.T. Service Dogs in Carmichael, California reinforced that belief. Without further ado, allow me to introduce her amazing group.
Liz: Let’s start in traditional Smile Project fashion. Give me a “Happiness is.”
Jan: Happiness is.. serving the autism and veteran communities, knowing your dogs have made a positive impact in someone’s life.
Liz: What is B.E.S.T. Service Dogs?
Jan: We are a non-profit organization that breeds Labrador Retrievers for service dog organizations supporting children on the autism spectrum and veterans with PTSD.
Liz: What is the driving force behind what you do?
Jan: The human/canine bond. There is nothing else like it. The human/dog relationship is unique in the world. No other species comes close. We have been partners with dogs for over 14,000 years and we are just beginning to really understand that partnership. I am driven by the needs of children affected by autism, their families, and how service dogs can affect their quality of life in dramatic ways. Children need nature in their lives and dogs create a space for them to learn empathy and unconditional love. Dogs can connect nonverbally when a child has difficulty expressing themselves.
I am also driven to help veterans suffering from PTSD. Twenty veterans a day commit suicide in this country. It has been successfully proven that a service dog can literally save those lives. This work is extremely important.
The more dogs we can get out to service organizations the more people we can help.
Liz: What does service mean to you?
Jan: Sharing the knowledge and experience I have with dogs, people, training and education. B.E.S.T. is an acronym for Breeding, Education, Service, and Training. We serve the community by producing well bred, healthy puppies for Service Dog organization; education on the benefits/concerns about service dogs; the difference between service, therapy, facility and emotional support dogs. We serve the community by volunteering and sharing our successes. We train dogs for therapy work as well.
Liz: How can people get involved?
Jan: We depend on donations to assist us in our work. People can donate on our web page, or go to Amazon Smile where we have a wish list of items needed for our kennel posted.
They can also help by purchasing our book “Sophie Finds a Friend,” a book for children on the autism spectrum. Sophie is a short, fat Labrador puppy who shares the emotion of happy and sad, nonverbally, to a shy boy. Available on our website, at lulu.com, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.com.
When we have a litter of pups, we need volunteers to assist with housekeeping chores and puppy petting! It is VERY important to socialize the puppies from birth, and we allow volunteers to come and help us with that.
Liz: Anything else you'd like to add?
Jan: They can follow along on my blog to see how puppies change the lives of the people they are placed with. B.E.S.T. follows the early learning protocols of Dr. Bonita Bergin of the Bergin College of Canine Studies.
Liz: One last bonus question. Any favorite quote to share?
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”