- Published on 31 July 2012
- Written by Jenn Lampila
- Hits: 1441
Three people, four dogs across the U.S. at 20 miles a day.
There’s Grace, who was rejected by three families.
Then Max, who almost died before he found a home.
And Old Brown Dog, who found a permanent home with someone who cared more than those before.
And don’t forget Jenny #9, who came flying out of a cornfield in Iowa.
They have all been rescued and are returning the favor on a walk across America with Kait and John Seyal to raise awareness for therapy dog programs and animal rescue.
Miles walked: 1,566 as of Monday in Hastings.
The group started with just the couple and their two dogs on March 1 in Lewes, Del. They were joined by their friend, Jon Slater, with his car and Old Brown Dog at the Mississippi River.
Kait and John live in Louisville, Ky. with Grace and Max, both mix-breed dogs, who now perform therapy work. Grace, a heeler-mix, is the elder of the four-legged group while Max has matched his energy level with Jenny, an Australian Shepard-mix they found running loose in Iowa. Old Brown Dog is a Puggle (Pug and Beagle mix) and one of a kind, according to John.
Jenny blends in with the group now, following most basic commands and enjoying her new pack.
Fortunately, there are dogs capable of the work the three, and hopefully four, canine cross-country walkers do. The couple encourages people to consider adopting adult dogs from shelters, a situation many people don’t consider because they don’t’ know the history of the animal.
“We want to change that concept,” Kait said. “You do know what you’re getting with an adult dog. You can skip all the puppy behaviors, housetraining and chewing.”
John said an adult rescue dog can bond with its owner over the experience. Jenny is their real-time example.
“There’s a level of gratitude you can see in the dog,” he said.
The group is supported by the efforts of Pawsibilites Unleashed, a service dog and therapy dog training group in Franfurt, Ky.
The couple and Slater all met in their first year of college in the Fine Arts dorm at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Kait and Jon pursued degrees in Art History while Kait added a Painting major and John a degree in Photography.
The group of seven is making a point to stop in communities along their route with little to no experience with pet therapy. They have spent afternoons in facilities and with programs who have welcomed the experience to spend time with the animals.
“We’re trying to visit places that haven’t witnessed the benefits of pet therapy,” Kait said.
They also encourage dog owners to seek out therapy certification and work if their animals are suited for it.
Their stop in Lincoln included a visit to Cedars Home for Children. Afterwards, an e-mail from Cedars staff said they were “blown away” by the reaction of the kids to the dogs and they would look into a program for their facility.
One mission accomplished in Lincoln. They hope for more.
The couple and their dogs have been involved in animal therapy since 2009 and this trip has been a “beautiful marriage,” of the things they enjoy.
For a couple who is used to traveling with their dogs to California, Florida, Canada and many state and national parks, the pace of a walking journey has been eye-opening.
“We’re out here to meet our country,” Kait said. “Its comes down to the fact our country is filled with the most wonderful people and generosity from the most unexpected places.”
From the first days into Delware to theses weeks in the Midwest, the hospitality has been refueling their faith in people.
They have seen the drought worsen since the last days of rain they saw walking through Illinois. Slater’s car offers respite for the dogs to keep them out of the heat some days.
They feel people can have a jaded perspective when envisioning their country. Kait said there is a lot of division, but their faith has been restored.
There was the Conner family in Delaware who took them in and the O’Briants in Iowa who again offered some air-conditioning, a home-cooked meal and interesting conversation.
They were cautious in West Virginia from advice of friends, but encounters there proved the people to be as nice as anywhere they had been.
“You appreciating the country the way we appreciate it” a local man told them.
Their list of memorable people and experiences is endless, John said, and the impact is tremendous.
Smart phones help them keep in touch through their website, www.dogblogusa.com
They are able to get their message across with the dogs, whether on a street corner, a front porch, city park or an afternoon volunteering.
Halfway across the country, at about 20 miles a day, in this heat and they want to keep going.
“You don’t miss the details,” John said.