A learning moment


Staff report



Photos courtesy 4 Paws For Ability Verity the poodle investigates the electric wheelchair CEO Karen Shirk uses. This wasn’t an interruption of daily activities; it was a learning moment for the dog.

Photos courtesy 4 Paws For Ability Verity the poodle investigates the electric wheelchair CEO Karen Shirk uses. This wasn’t an interruption of daily activities; it was a learning moment for the dog.


4 Paws CEO Karen Shirk offers Verity a treat.


XENIA — 4 Paws For Ability had one of those “moments” earlier this week.

While office activity was normal as employees were going about their daily business, an incident occurred that reminded employees of their mission — training dogs to be service dogs.

Verity the poodle — who has spent a lot of time in the main office with KaLynn Clark — let out a startled “whoof” after CEO Karen Shirk passed by Clark’s office. That led the office team to shift into “socialization” mode.

“Like a scene change in a play, everyone moved with purpose and quiet urgency to help Verity overcome this split second of insecurity,” according to a post on the 4 Paws Facebook page. “With (employee) Candy Donahue holding the leash, Verity was encouraged to investigate the chair, with its new smells and odd noises. Karen and Candy praised and petted her, with lots of very good treats, until Verity relaxed and accepted this unusual thing in her personal space.”

This was an important step in the development of a service dog in training who will improve the life and independence of their future human.

“Our volunteers and staff spend hours each day, for months at a time, working in moments like this so our dogs can handle new stimuli with calmness and confidence,” the post said. “With time and care — and a lot of those very good treats — our dogs learn that new stuff is not scary, it just needs a good sniff. A confident dog is a focused dog, one who can ignore distractions and focus on the human that needs them.”

Photos courtesy 4 Paws For Ability Verity the poodle investigates the electric wheelchair CEO Karen Shirk uses. This wasn’t an interruption of daily activities; it was a learning moment for the dog.
https://www.xeniagazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2020/10/web1_4-Paws-1.jpgPhotos courtesy 4 Paws For Ability Verity the poodle investigates the electric wheelchair CEO Karen Shirk uses. This wasn’t an interruption of daily activities; it was a learning moment for the dog.

4 Paws CEO Karen Shirk offers Verity a treat.
https://www.xeniagazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2020/10/web1_4-Paws-2.jpg4 Paws CEO Karen Shirk offers Verity a treat.

Staff report