On October 13th, 2017, there was a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the ACVO/Stokes Service Animal Eye Exam Event at the ACVO Conference in Baltimore, MD. This reception was open to all registered attendees, not only those members and staff who were able to participate.

The celebration featured a spread of light appetizers, drinks, Stokes' photo booth, honored Service and Working Animal guests, a short presentation and the announcement of the video competition winners and their prizes.

We had 12 Service and Working Animals from various organizations join us with their handlers and representatives to meet and mingle during the reception. Below are pictures and some information on their organization and what they do.

Superfit Canine

Eric & Quackenbush "The Dude"
Named in honor of Christopher Quackenbush, who died during the attack on the World trade Center in 2011.

Quackenbush, AKA "The Dude", is a 2 year old Labrador Retriever from the Penn Vet Working Dog Center's Breeding program in Philadelphia, PA. The Dude is in training to become a disaster search and rescue dog. Disaster search dogs are specially trained to locate human survivors after man made or natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, and building collapses. The Dude, along with his handler Eric Darling and K9 counterparts Ben and Wyatt, travel across the country to train in simulated disaster environments to ensure they are ready when disaster strikes. 

Canine Companions for Independence

Nancy & Writer
Founded in 1975, Canine Companions for Independence is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships.  All of this is provided free of charge to recipients.

Writer is a 4 year old Yellow Lab/Golden Retriever mix.  He is my successor dog.  He helps to undress me, brings me the phone, empties the clothes dryer, brings me things from the fridge, opens and closes doors and lights and picks up anything that I drop.  He is my best friend.

Caroline & Shelly
Caroline Elgin, 24, and SD Shelly have been partners for 4 years. Shelly is Caroline's second service dog from Canine Companions for Independence, and has, again, been a perfect match for this active young lady. Caroline has not let her cerebral palsy due to birth injury slow her down. With Shelly by her side, she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the Art Institute, and runs a small business called "Labradorable Designs". Caroline also does therapeutic riding and loves adaptive skiing. Shelly helps give Caroline confidence and independence every day. Shelly is trained to pick up items Caroline drops, to turn lights on and off and to open and shut drawers. But, really, it is Shelly's every day loving presence that means the most...a constant friend to help navigate the world.

Canine Partners for Life

Naomi & Chadds
“Chadds assists me with a variety of tasks, including picking things up, opening and shutting doors, carrying items, and
even taking things out of the dryer! He makes me a lot more independent.” – Naomi Hess

Canine Partners for Life (CPL) is dedicated to training service dogs, home companion dogs, residential companion dogs,
and courthouse companion dogs to assist individuals who have a wide range of physical and cognitive disabilities. CPL
was one of the first organizations in the world to be accredited by Assistance Dogs International and has placed more
than 650 service and companion dogs in 45 states. For more information, go to www.k94life.org.

Warrior Canine Connection

Earl, Diane & Pate
Named in honor of United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Kimberly Sue Pate, Ret.

Staff Sergeant Kimberly Pate was always drawn to the military. She knew she wanted to serve her country and to do something where she felt she would have a purpose. "After attending college for a while but not being sure of what exactly I wanted to do with my life, I finally went to talk to an Air Force recruiter," SSgt Pate recalled. "He asked me if I wanted to play with robots and blow stuff up for a living, so I said 'sign me up.'"

That visit to the recruiter's office marked the beginning of SSgt Pate's nearly 10-year career in EOD. In the coming months she completed Air Force basic military training, then EOD technical training shortly thereafter. SSgt Pate recalls her time in EOD school as the best time of her life, where she learned "the greatest job I ever had" and met the love of her life. SSgt Pate deployed twice, to Baghdad in 2008 and Kuwait in 2011.

It was during her second deployment in 2011 when SSgt Pate’s husband Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant EJ Pate, EOD technician, was killed by an improvised explosive device while serving in Afghanistan. While this tragic event could have defeated her, it rather became motivation for her to continue striving for greatness.

In 2013, SSgt Pate was named North Carolina Servicewoman of the Year by the American Legion Auxiliary Past Presidents Parley in Raleigh, North Carolina. In an essay she wrote in conjunction with this award SSgt Pate noted, "Women have made many strides over the years and proven themselves capable to achieve things that others have seen as 'not fit for them. I fully support people following their dreams and shooting as high as they can. If a woman wants to fly a jet, provide medical attention in the field, fight on the front lines or disarm improvised explosive devices, I say go for it."

SSgt Pate retired from the Air Force in 2014. When asked what her near decade of service taught her SSgt responded, “It’s the greatest thing I've ever done and made me who I am today. It taught me resilience in the face of extremely hard times. It taught me to adapt and adjust to whatever was thrown my way. It gave me strength and purpose. It gave me a home.”

Warrior Canine Connection enlists Service Members and Veterans with combat stress in the critical mission of training service dogs for fellow injured Veterans. Based on the concept of Warriors helping Warriors, WCC’s therapeutic service dog training program is designed to mitigate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other challenges. This Mission Based Trauma Recovery program provides participants with a sense of purpose, help in reintegrating back into their families and communities, and a potential career path as a service dog trainer. The organization operates in five program locations. for more information, please visit: warriorcanineconnection.org.

More photos from the reception