Shining Star Award 2010 Annual Report

v Download the 2010 Shining Stars listed state by state

v Download the Guidelines and Information for applicants

The Collie Club of America Shining Star Award is for dogs who work as Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Reading Assistance Dogs and/or have done other significant community service The Program was partially inspired by a young man named Ben Baltz (pictured right), grandson to Pati Merrill, whose recovery from cancer surgery was much hastened and enhanced by therapy dogs at the hospital and later a pony named Molly, who also has a prosthetic leg. Proposed to the CCA by Pati and Emily Berkley of Leige Collies, we are now completing our first year with the awarding of our first Shining Stars.

Collies are outstanding therapy dogs, education dogs and service dogs. With their love, generosity and wisdom, they can take themselves beyond their training. With their natural empathy and tendency to think so well on the fly, Collies often take their service to whole new levels. During the first year of Shining Star we have seen these wonderful dogs raise the bar over and over again.

We have been hugely fortunate to find a dog/handler team that represents the program's spirit and goals in a very comprehensive way, and to have them receive the first-ever Shining Star award. We are proud to offer congratulations to Kathy Shires and her dogs, Iris and Lizzie of the Pet Therapy Foundation For Blind Children. The magical program in which Iris works was designed by Kathy and actually evolved through the careers of two dogs, so we are including them both in the award: Iris is the current dog and Lizzie was her predecessor. The dogs do a unique combination of pet therapy, reading assistance and mobility assistance for young kids. This is not an occasional visit, but a full-time job. Iris works a regular work week, which magnifies her impact on the children and requires stamina, training and the dedication that service dogs must have along with the empathy and group orientation of all therapy dogs. The impact on the lives of the children is tremendous on so many levels. They have improved in academics and been given a confidence in their abilities that no human caregiver could provide. Kathy is from Scottsale, Arizona, and Iris (Ch. Edenrock Rock of Ages x Tremont Sugarcoated) was bred by Em Silvkoff of San Jose, California.

Iris is not an award winner in the typical way. There were 34 dogs who applied for the first year of Shining Star, and all deserve recognition. We have therapy dogs who work with patients of all ages and some very difficult ones; we have a dog who consoles the families of police officers lost in the line of duty; we have a dog who heroically protected his owner from a criminal who was trying to talk his way into the house; we have service dogs with amazing training repertoires.

Iris has been chosen to represent them all, but even this choice was not easy. We must mention other dogs, who, like Iris, represent the highest level of achievement and training; and among whom it was actually painful to have to choose. After whole boxes of tissues consumed in the reading of the stories of these dogs, we honorably mention Keshet, an Alzheimer’s Aid Dog from Israel, bred by Myrna Shiboleth, whose thinking and problem solving abilities have often been challenged by her Alzheimer’s partner’s attempts to wander away from home; Ava (pictured right), a remarkable hearing assistance dog who has partnered with Reyna Cervantes all the way to Ph.D. studies; and James, a renaissance dog who dances, makes therapy visits, competes in obedience, and even manages to find time to be a bell ringer for the Salvation Army.

Shining Star is an unusual program that requires a different kind of effort from the CCA, reaching deeply into the membership and then beyond it to find the shining stars. The District Directors did a commendable job of reaching breeders, who then reached out to their puppy buyers and also to local clubs, who then reached out to their rescues to find the actual shining stars, who are outside of the usual CCA and dog show channels of communication. We offer a special thanks to CCA President Bob Futh and his wife, Sally, for their help and support through the first year of the Shining Star Program. We also thank Matt Stelter of Wyndlair Collies for helping to arrange commemorative gold star collar tags for all participants in Shining Star through Drs. Foster and Smith.

Candy Wisnieski, Norwood Collies
Leslie Rappaport. Kings Valley Collies

With Shining Star Dogs, pictures are often worth more than words.

CCA National Specialty Shining Star Presentation:

CCA President Bob Futh with
Kathy Shires and Iris

Presentation at the 2010 National Specialty
Left to right: Toni Bailey with James, Kathy
Shires, Pati Merrill and Bob Futh with Iris

Iris at work

LIZZIE at work with Kathy Shires



This award is open to ANY COLLIE who works as a Service Dog, Therapy Dog, Education/Library Assistance Dog or has done any good deed(s) for his family or the community. The owner does not need to be a CCA member, nor does the dog need to be bred by a CCA member. There are many dogs who would qualify for these broad criteria and we would love to hear their stories.

v Download the 2010 Shining Stars listed state by state

v Download the Guidelines and Information for applicants

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