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Companion

The companion award is given to animals who provided a benefit to their human companions or their community.

2011 - Roscoe

More than a companion, Roscoe, a Yorkshire Terrier, never let his small stature and health conditions slow his dedication to the Dybevik family. The Dybeviks never thought their little two pound package would have such an impact on their lives.

Despite having been born with a liver dysfunction resulting in numerous trips to the Truesdell Animal Care Hospital, Roscoe’s companionship grew into more. One of the Dybeviks two sons, Mark, has a seizure disorder. Roscoe never leaves Mark’s side when they are home and makes a distinctive bark if Mark starts to have a seizure.

At night, Roscoe sleeps by Marks parents, Ken and Doreen, so he can alert and wake them if Mark is starting to have a seizure. What is most remarkable about all of this is that Roscoe assumed the role of Mark’s guardian without any training!

Roscoe has overcome his health problems and is now “3.6 pounds of personality and pure devotion” to Mark and the entire Dybevik family.

His personality shines though in his dedication to Mark, but also when playing with his best friend, the neighbor’s 70 pound black lab. Roscoe has overcome diversity to become an indispensible and irreplaceable part of the Dybevik’s family.

Roscoe was nominated by Dr. Heide Meier, Truesdell Animal Care Hospital in Madison.


2010 - Mac

The companion inductee is more than that to Harry Bublitz, Lake Geneva. His Golden Retriever, Mac, has been instrumental in making his life a little easier and more joyful. Harry was struck by a drunk driver over 20 years ago leaving him paralyzed, with minimal use of one arm. Confined to a motorized wheelchair and well known in the Lake Geneva community, Harry and his two dogs - Mac, his trained assistant, and Sage, his companion, can be found strolling the sidewalks all year long.

Harry first met Mac after his initial service dog lost her battle with cancer.  Devastated Harry realized he needed a companion, but Mac turned out to be much more. Recognizing his “natural talent,” Harry worked with a local trainer to have Mac trained as his service dog.

Mac is not only Harry’s service dog, but constant companion. Mac opens doors, turns on lights, picks things up for him, gets items off the shelf in the grocery store and more. But more impressive is the bond between Harry and Mac, the human-animal bond is strong and unwavering. Mac lives to please Harry – both helping him and loving him.

Harry and Mac volunteer at a local school in the Lake Geneva community and have for many years. Over the years, Harry and Mac have helped students with their reading, personal growth and self-consciousness. Weekly, students look forward to Harry and Mac’s arrival.

Harry and Mac are great friends with Mac’s doctors, Drs. Scot and Mona Hodkiewicz of the Lake Geneva Animal Hospital in Lake Geneva who nominated Mac. Their special friendship runs deeper than just caring for Mac, as the Hodkiewicz family was hit by a drunk driver three years ago.

2009 - Frankie

Frankie is a nine-year-old miniature Dachshund belonging to Barb and John Techel, of Elkhart Lake. 
 
Though Francesca is her real name, she likes to go by Frankie. Frankie thinks that she is no different from any other dog, but she is special, because she is known as the Walk ‘n Roll dog.
 
When Frankie was six years old, she sustained a spinal cord injury. Frankie went into surgery with a thirty percent chance of walking again. For eight weeks she was confined to a crate, with strict instructions to limit her activity. However, as the weeks and months passed, it became clear that Frankie would not walk again, despite extensive rehabilitation. Considering their options, the Techels decided to order a customized dog cart.
 
Over the past two years, Frankie and Barb have had the opportunity to bring their story of joy and hope to thousands of people around the state, and across the country. They have even written a children’s book, which has won a national award.
 
Most people have never seen a dog on wheels before. Children are particularly interested. Barb and Frankie have visited schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. They introduce children to the concept of disabilities in an affirming and unthreatening way. Frankie demonstrates that she is a normal dog that enjoys normal dog things. Frankie is also an excellent example of standing tall in the face of life’s challenges.
 
Julie Hauck, a third-grade teacher whose class was visited by Frankie said, “Frankie succeeded in overcoming her obstacles. Many students are facing their own set of obstacles, such as difficulty reading, living in a one-parent home, or wearing glasses. Frankie shows children and adults alike to never give up."
 
Frankie was nominated by Dr. Greg Bohn of Kettle Moraine Veterinary Clinic in Plymouth.

 2008 - Page

In March of 2007, Raina Hockenberry adopted a Golden Retriever named Page to be a companion for Kiegen, her 10-year-old son. Kiegen is bipolar, and has a form of autism. Due to these issues, Kiegen sometimes has trouble with socialization, communicating with others.

Soon after Page was adopted she was brought in to see her veterinarian for an exam. Tests revealed that Page had distemper. During these first exams, Dr. Brook Lewis noticed that Kiegen appeared agitated, hesitant, and frustrated with the activities in the exam room.

Page’s health continued to decline, but Raina remained optimistic. She saw the initial threads of a bond forming between Page and her son. They love to play together, and Kiegen was teaching Page obedience tricks. Raina believed Page’s health was worth fighting for.

The decision was made to have Page hospitalized for supportive care for two weeks, and each week thereafter, Page continued to show improvements.

A couple months later, Raina, Kiegen and Page came into Care Animal Hospital for a re-check exam. Dr. Lewis realized that Raina’s instincts were right. When Kiegen was greeted, his face lit up with a great big smile. He was eager to talk about Page’s improvements and the details of her day to day care. Kiegen was happy to show off all of Page’s new obedience tricks.

The relationship between Kiegen and Page is a wonderful example of the human animal bond. Page is an incredible dog, who not only fought for her own life, but also helped Kiegen emerge as an outgoing, talkative, playful, relaxed, and friendly young boy.

Page was nominated by Dr. Brooke Lewis of Care Animal Hospital in Kenosha.


2007 - Arianna

 Many dogs have earned them the title of “man’s best friend,” (or in this case woman’s best friend). Their selfless, unconditional dedication is often difficult to fathom. To make it even more mysterious, now and then a dog like Arianna comes along. Arianna is a Golden Retriever owned by Melissa and Jim Dais, of Hartford.

Melissa lives with two conditions, Lupus and Myasthenia Gravis. Fatigue and muscle weakness make daily tasks a challenge. At three years of age, Arianna began to show an ability to sense when Melissa would have health complications. With particular regularity, Arianna would cling to Melissa’s side, with her head in Melissa’s lap, up to a day before she would require hospitalization. On these days, Melissa would have no other indication about impending health complications, and only observes this behavior from Arianna at these times.

In one instance, Melissa made plans to get together with a cousin. The day before, Arianna would not leave her side. If Melissa would go to another room and shut the door, Arianna would sit outside and whine. Melissa phoned her cousin to call off their plans. True to Arianna’s signals, Melissa found herself hospitalized the very next day.

Arianna also comforts and tends to Melissa whenever she is feeling sick. Arianna will put Melissa’s shoes away and bring her slippers. She will also deliver Melissa’s purse, TV remote, or phone when asked.

Melissa has been involved in breeding and raising Golden Retrievers since she was a small girl. She has been around these faithful dogs her whole life, yet she describes Arianna as the “brightest shining star of them all.”

Arianna was nominated by Dr. Mark Lindborg of Hartford Animal Hospital.


 2006 - Brooke

Brooke is a living memorial to her first human companion, “Musky” Mike Kitchen. Musky Mike, who owned a bait shop in Okauchee, WI, adopted Brooke when she was a puppy. Mike was active in his community, with a fondness for charity. He even was the founder of the popular Lake Country Iron Man Fishing Tournament. Everyone in the tiny village knew Brooke, because she never left Mike’s side. Brooke even served as the mascot for Musky Mike’s bait shop. Many fishermen brought her special treats, and children often visited the bait shop just to pet Brooke.

 Then, in November of 2004, Musky Mike passed away unexpectedly in his home above his bait shop. Although she was always gentle, paramedics had a difficult time separating Brooke from her master. She spent the next two days laying at the door, expecting Mike’s return.

 At this point, Mike’s parents, Jim and Joy knew that Brooke needed them as much as they needed her. Since Jim and Joy’s dog Tasha had passed away two years earlier, they had not been ready to open their hearts to a new dog. Finally, they understood why they had been waiting.

 Jim and Joy adopted Brooke, because she was such a vital part of Mike’s life, and they knew it would be Mike’s wish. As time passed, they began to realize that Brooke provided them as much comfort as they gave her.  Although the Kitchens are certain that Brooke still waits for Mike, they know she is happy and contented living with them.

 Brooke was nominated by Dr. Ann Sosalla from Companion Animal care in Fond du Lac.


 2005 - Tobasco

Eight years ago, Tobasco was surrendered by a breeder to a local humane society, because he has osteodystrophy. Kay McCleery, who at the time was just getting over the loss of another beloved cat, saw Tobasco and immediately fell in love.

Tobasco has an uncanny ability to soothe people who are in emotional or physical pain. In 2000, Kay was diagnosed with metastic breast cancer. During Kay’s treatment and recovery, Tobasco was constantly by her side. Even when chemotherapy was too much for Kay to bear, Tobasco would nuzzle his head under her hand and just lie there for hours, purring.

 Today Kay is a surviving stage four breast cancer patient. Because she knew of the incredible healing powers Tobasco had with ailing people, Kay had Tobasco certified by Delta Society to go into hospitals and nursing homes to visit patients and residents.

 Tobasco’s wide eyes and distinctive physique make him the center of attention. On several occasions, people who claim to not like cats, beg for him to return for another visit. Others simply want to hold him on their laps for as long as possible. In one case, a woman who had long since ceased to interact with the outside world, stared with wonderment at this unique creature in front of her. When she began to pet Tobasco, the woman began to smile. This astonished the woman’s daughter and her eyes welled up with tears.

Tobasco was nominated by Dr. Laurie McCabe, from Burleigh Road Animal Hospital.


2004 - Koby

In October 2002, Koby, a two-year-old 98-pound Rotweiller mix, was brought to the Crivitz Veterinary Clinic by the local dogcatcher. Koby had been running at large and had become a problem for local residents. The dogcatcher did have the owner's name and address, and they had said they would claim their dog. Sadly, after seven days the owners had not shown up and refused to answer phone calls. Koby stayed at the Crivitz Veterinary Clinic and then at the home of a staff member.

Chris Wieting, an employee of NewCare Convalescent Center, soon adopted Koby. Chris began to take Koby along to visit residents of the assisted living facility. Today he regularly wanders the halls, stopping to visit residents who enjoy his friendly personality.

Playful, but calm, Koby can walk among the wheelchairs and walkers while never getting in the way. He likes to be part of clean up after mealtime, and enjoys watching squirrels outside. Koby brightens the residents' lives with a wag of his tail or by resting his very large head in someone's lap. Everyone who has come into contact with this big, loveable bear of a dog, are touched by the way he lifts the spirits of the residents and employees.

One resident wrote, "In my 85 years I have seen and owned many dogs, but never one as intelligent as Koby. It makes us humans feel very inadequate. He is truly man's best friend." For the residents and staff of NewCare Convalescence Center, Koby provides a link to the outside world and friendship without asking for anything in return.

Koby was nominated by Dr. Doug Morrison from Crivitz Veterinary Clinic.


2003 - Milo

The Seidner family first met Milo as a puppy while on vacation in 1994. Out of all the puppies in the litter, he stood out. Milo had a special way of interacting differently with each member of the family - playful and rough with some, while gentle and loving with others. The decision to adopt Milo was an easy one.

In 1996 the Seidner family decided it was time for their family to build a new home. While waiting for their home to be built, they could not find a place to rent that would also allow Milo. The Seidner's just could not bear the thought of having to give Milo up. Thankfully, friends of the family said Milo could stay with them while their new home was being built.

Later that same year, Jim Seidner's father, Paul, became very ill and passed away. This loss was especially hard for Jim's mother Violet, who would now be alone. The Seidners knew in their hearts what they needed to do. Violet needed companionship and Milo was the most loving, devoted and compassionate friend they had ever known.

Violet accepted Milo into her home, though she had never before wanted a pet. But it was not long before Violet and Milo became very attached to one-another. The Seidners visit Violet and Milo frequently, but when it is time for them to leave, Milo always knows that his home is now with Violet. Though Violet had lost her soul mate, Milo had become her companion, friend, and confidante.


2002 - Spunky

Spunky is “The Weather Dog” and star of “What’s Spunky Sporting?” on Fox morning news in Milwaukee. Dr. Thomas Schumacher of Cedarburg Veterinary Clinic in Cedarburg, who nominated Spunky, says that he was told Spunky gets more fan mail than anyone at the station. Each morning, Spunky appears in the arms of Scott Steele, the weatherman, dressed for the weather. Spunky helps kids know what to wear outside in the morning. His wardrobe includes all the necessary Wisconsin wear: Packer jerseys, rain gear (such as boots, hat, jacket and umbrella) swim trunks and sunglasses, and of course, plenty of warm coats, hats and boots. But you don’t get inducted into the Pet Hall of Fame for being a celebrity. Even Spunky knows that! Spunky’s fame does not end with television. He goes to schools with Scott, teaching students about meteorology and does many fundraising events like Food for Families, Toys for Tots and animal shelter walks.

Spunky gives joy each day not only to Scott, his owner, but also to hundreds of children, seniors, and others every day. Through their love of Spunky, many hundreds of people are experiencing the human-animal bond.

Owner/caretaker: Scott Steele
Nominated by: Dr. Thomas Schumacher, Cedarburg


2002 - Molly

Molly was adopted from the West Bend Humane Society when she was four-years old by Charlotte Feldhake of Fond du Lac. Dr. Gessert describes the way Charlotte and Molly first met: "When Charlotte and Molly first met at the humane society, it was love at first sight.” Molly has had a wonderful, nurturing home with Charlotte for the last seven years.

 They are both extremely active in their community with volunteer work. Molly has been working with “Healing Paws” since 1996. She is the only canine in the Fond du Lac “Healing Paws” program to visit the mentally and physically handicapped, as well as doing her regular rounds at five different nursing homes.

The men and women who live in the homes giggle and laugh when Molly comes to see them. Although many don’t or can’t, express in words what they feel, they don’t need words to express their feelings about Molly: it’s the look on their face and the sound of their laughter that tell the story. Molly knows her friends at the nursing homes so well, that once Charlotte and Molly arrive at the homes and get inside, Charlotte unleashes Molly to do her “rounds” by herself.

For Molly, the end of a long, fulfilling day means going home with her best friend, Charlotte. At eleven years old, Molly is having some health problems of her own, and yet, Charlotte describes Molly’s dedication with a happy sigh: “No matter what Molly is going through with her own health, when she steps into the role of the “Healing Paws” dog, she forgets her own worries and takes away the worries of others.”

We should all learn that wonderful life lesson from Molly!

Owner/caretaker: Charlotte Feldhake
Nominated by: Dr. Mary Gessert, Fond du Lac


2001 - Return Trip

"I can fly!" A neighbor boy in a wheelchair with multiple sclerosis told Dr. Bohn that's how he felt when he rode Return Trip. Owner Sandy Wimmler shares this special horse with the riders in REINS. Riding R.T. gives people with disabilities a taste of success, becomes a trusted friend and most especially, gives them a chance to fly!

Owner/caretaker: Sandy Wimmler
Nominated by: Dr. Greg Bohn, Plymouth


2000 - Roxy

Roxy is an important companion for a special boy. Riverroads "Roxy," a yellow Labrador Retriever, came into the lives of the Rabin family 12 years ago as a companion for their three-year-old severely cognitively disabled son, Stuart. The two quickly became inseparable companions.

Roxy is a devoted companion who pulled Stuart in a wagon when he was smaller and now walks along side his wheelchair. She has greatly improved Stuart's life and is a beloved companion of the entire family, which lives in Pleasant Prairie, Wis. Now Roxy is older and suffers from arthritis, but despite her discomfort, she still is a part of the daily life of her family.

Owner/caretaker: Stuart Rabin
Nominated by: Dr. William Carlisle, Kenosha


1999 - Yukon

Yukon trekked 1,000 miles with his owner, Dave Kuckuk, along Wisconsin's Ice Age Trail. They performed this amazing feat to raise money for an ecology center addition at the Ellwood H. May Environmental Park, also known as Maywood.

Kuckuk also used the trip as an opportunity to educate more than 2,000 students across Wisconsin on environmental concerns. By doing so, he also showed them the power of one individual and his dog to make a difference.

Owner/caretaker: Dave Kuckuk
Nominated by: the DVM's of Kettle Moraine Veterinary Center, Plymouth


 1998 - Dr. Fred

Dr. Fred is well-known to the community of La Crosse as an "ambassador of love." For many years he was the mainstay of the Coulee Region Humane Society's pet therapy and education programs. This yellow lab has brightened the lives of many sick, elderly and institutionalized people, and school-age children know him by sight. Dr. Fred received celebrity status in La Crosse, where he often appeared in parades as children called out "Fred! Fred!" The mayor of La Crosse also proclaimed "Dr. Fred Day." Dr. Fred died in May 1999.

Owner/caretaker: Carole Phillips
Nominating veterinarian: Dr. Laura Johnson, La Crosse


1997 - Lexy

It takes a special quality to cope with a physical disability. Lexy, bravely faced the challenge of being placed in a cart that supports her back-end with wheels (comparable to a human's wheelchair). This has not stopped her spunk and active nature. She now shares her positive attitude with nursing home residents and can once again go on long walks with her family.

 Owner/caretaker: Don and Kay Kangas
Nominating veterinarian: Dr. Denise Witthoft, Janesville


 1996 - Ben

Ben and his owner, Don Sturtevant, visit residents once a week at two nursing homes in Appleton. It has been said that the only time some people smile is when they see Ben, who is sometimes their only visitor. Ben had been neglected by his previous owner who "took him on a one-way trip to the shelter." At that time, Mr. Sturtevant had recently lost his long-time pet and went to the shelter "just to look around." It was love at first sight!

Owner/caretaker: Don Sturtevant
Nominating veterinarian: Dr. David Voigt, Appleton


 1995 - Lady

Lady has a difficult time walking since she suffers from arthritis. She's almost completely deaf as well. A fellow geriatric patient, she relates well to the residents of Knapp Haven Nursing home.

Lady is a walking partner to many residents while being a confidant to others. Some patients will respond to Lady long after they've stopped responding to people. She helps those special senior citizens fight loneliness and feel the need to love and be loved.

Owner/caretaker: Julie Odil
Nominating veterinarian: Dr. Steve Vork, Chetek


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