Our speaker this week was Frank Lopez, his wife Judy and Frank's service dog, Nolan.  Frank is a volunteer with Custom Canines, a volunteer run service dog academy.  The organization is located in Madison and totally volunteer driven.  They train dogs for people with a variety of disabilities including vision, autism, diabetes, PTSD and physical disabilities.  Many breeds are used as service dogs in addition to commonly known Labrador Retriever.  The cost to raise and train a dog is $1500 and, when a donation is made, the donor is given the opportunity to name the dog.
Nolan is a yellow lab that Frank received while in California and was funded from a gift by Joan Rivers, whose estate continues to support service dog training and matching.  Nolan helps Frank in many capacities including keeping him safe by identifying hazards when walking and helping him find people, places and items when commanded.  Nolan can identify numerous grocery items and lead Frank upon a voice command for a specific item or brand..  A service dog can be identified by a specially marked vest and the owner may be carrying documentation.  It is important to ask an owner before approaching a service dog and to respect the response.  Often, if a dog is working, people are asked to refrain from petting the dog. 
More information can be found on their website, www.customcanines.org.
Other news:
  • Pancake ads are due next week.  Please get your information to Rose Freidel.
  • Plan to attend the district conference  May 15 thru 17 at the Paper Valley Resort and Convention Center in Appleton, WI.  This is a great opportunity to learn more about Rotary, the district and network with fellow Rotarians. 
Please make an effort to attend the meeting next week, Feb 10, when four community grant finalists will present about their program and project.  All Rotarians will be asked to vote afterwards to choose the two winners.
Have a good week.