Joey Lawrence, the host of 2013 Hero Dog Award Show, takes a few minutes to talk about his pets, Leo and Tiffany, and how dogs give us so much more than we could ever ask for. When asked if he had a favorite hero dog this year, he said he was really impressed with the cancer-sniffing dog, AKA, John D! We're so glad to have been a part of the American Humane Association's campaign this year so that our story could contribute to the national message: every dog has something amazing to offer!
We are so excited about John D's debut that we want to share it with everyone! Of course, finding a dog-friendly, covered patio with outside televisions that carry the Hallmark Channel was no easy feat-- but we lucked out when a friend suggested Big Whiskey's Bar & Grill.
The downtown establishment known for their food (OMG, the double battered fries!) and awesome selection of televised sporting events has graciously welcomed our team, dogs and friends to watch the show on their patio. Can you join us?
We'll be meeting at 6:30; show starts at 7. It's an all-ages event and your dogs are welcome too. (Just keep in mind that if the weather is bad, dogs won't be able to enter the bar inside--- so dress warm so you can stay on the patio with the cool kids!).
Drinks and food are available at guests' expense (we apologize that we cannot be more gracious, but our small budget requires us to focus funds on gear, training, etc.)
We truly hope to see you there!!
Voting for Viewers' Top Dog Award is underway, and John D needs your help. Visit the Hallmark Channel's website to cast your vote and show support for John D and the work of ASDA. You can vote every day, multiple times a day - so put those free minutes towards a good PAWS!
Thanks for your support!
Photo credit: Verna Higgins. Visit VHiggins Photography to view the complete album.
At ASDA, we’re passionate about dogs. We know their talents are so spectacular that they can be used to save lives—which is why we dedicate so much time and energy on handler and K9 training, community education, and of course—search and rescue efforts and cancer research.
As we advance our understanding of dogs’ talents through clinical research, we want everyone to know what we’re learning. So when the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock asked us to be an exhibit in their inaugural Spark! fundraiser, we barked at the chance!
With the hope of “igniting a passion for science, technology and math,” we joined seven other teams to share some of the cutting-edge research happening in Central Arkansas. Not only was the event FUN, it allowed us to have an easy and open dialogue with our community.
We had several people stop by our table to ask questions, be as fascinated and as impressed as we are, and of course, pose with the famous John D.
We hope to see you at the next one!
John D and the ASDA team traveled to Hollywood this past weekend to attend the American Humane Association’s third annual Hero Dog Awards. While there, we met several amazing dogs and people from around the country with inspiring stories. Elle, a gentle and loving pit bull from North Carolina, and the overall winner this year, is changing opinions with her therapy dog reading program called "Tail Wagging Tales.” We’re so grateful for the opportunity to meet her and the other heroes!
ASDA President, Donna Waugh, accepted the Search and Rescue Hero Dog award on behalf of John D. Donna’s acceptance speech was a touching tribute to the ASDA team, our UAMS researchers, and the profound work ethic of our four-legged team members.
The bright event, attended by starlets and pooches alike, will be televised on the Hallmark Channel on October 30, 2013.
Photo credit: Verna Higgins. Visit VHiggins Photography to view the complete album and learn more about the stars and heroes from this amazing night!
John D welcomed a very special guest to Little Rock yesterday. Elizabeth Clark, a resident of Joplin, MO, came to visit and bring good luck for him before his trip to Hollywood. Elizabeth first learned of John D through the 2013 Hero Dog Award contest; when she realized that he had been among the responders after the 2011 tornado that destroyed her hometown, she knew she HAD to meet him!
Elizabeth, John D, ASDA President, Donna Waugh, and several team members met for lunch at a local dog-friendly restaurant, Cheers in the Heights. Elizabeth shared her experience from the tornados—the partial destruction of her home, the loss of her neighborhood, and even the disappearance and RETURN of her beloved pet. As she recounted her stories and those of her friends and community, ASDA members were in awe of the resilience Joplin residents showed in the aftermath of the F5 tornado.
ASDA presented Elizabeth two gifts to honor their Joplin connection. The first was a blue washcloth. While in Joplin, residents who had lost everything were still eager to try and help rescue workers. When they had nothing at all and so much to worry about for themselves, they managed to find washcloths, which they wetted and gave to the dogs to keep them cool. The second was a miniature John D and soccer ball trinket.
The legacy of the flat soccer ball:
ASDA’s K9 Search and Rescue team had been called to Joplin to assist in finding victims. Devastation was everywhere and there was nothing left for miles. As we searched piles of collapsed homes and remnants of lives forever interrupted, the impact of there being nothing left hit our search team full force.
We took a break to face the reality that there was nothing left. We sat on the curb, hot, sad, and feeling helpless. How do you even begin to rebuild after everything is gone? How would Joplin recover?
John D surveyed our team. He picked up a flat soccer ball, also a victim of the tornado, and brought it back to where we sat. And then, with a flip of his head, he tossed it to us.
The message was clear: "If all you have is a flat soccer ball, then you play flat soccer. And it will be okay." And he was right. When you are faced with what seems like total hopelessness, you have to learn to see hope differently. You learn to see the possibilities from what you do have, rather than what is now lost. And you make do with a flat soccer ball because that is all you have.
Thank you, Elizabeth, for your visit! Your love and support is all the reward we need to continue in the work we do. You’ve given us hope as well!
Dr. Sandy Burnett, ovarian cancer researcher, and ASDA president, Donna Waugh, join Kim Thiboldeaux on her radio show, “Frankly Speaking about Cancer.” The episode, “Dog Detectives,” explores dogs’ ability to sniff out cancer. Peppered with colorful anecdotes and hard data, ASDA makes a strong case for the use of dogs in cancer detection. After discussing dog selection, training methods, acceptance among the medical field, and challenges in the study, Thiboldeaux asks Dr. Burnett, “What are you trying to prove?”
Listen in to hear an in-depth review of how UAMS cancer researchers are using canines in controlled studies and where they see it going.
Last week, ASDA president, Donna Waugh, and team members met with curators to discuss their presentation at the first annual Spark! event. The high-profile, red carpet benefit, hosted by the Museum of Discovery, will feature eight, innovative studies being conducted in Arkansas.
With an emphasis on interactive learning and engaging the audience with discussion, the event will allow ASDA to share with other scientists and the community the unique training methods, tests, and successes of our ongoing studies in canine detection of thyroid and ovarian cancers. We will bring several SAR dogs, including the 2013 Hero Dog Award winner, John D, who are proving that human cancer can be detected by canines.
The event will be held Thursday, October 17. View the Museum of Discovery’s website for more details, or check back here as we learn more!
Hint: Tickets are still available, so get yours!
Arkansas Search Dog Association (ASDA) has undergone a rebranding to include the expanding scope of skills and services we offer.
When the 501(c)(3) K-9 search and rescue team formed in 2002, our mission was to dutifully honor the Search and Rescue motto, “That others may live.” For years, we have partnered with local and state law enforcement to successfully execute field searches in Arkansas and surrounding states.
In 2010, our dogs began to partner with other institutions, like the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. In addition to utilizing our dogs for search and rescue efforts, our dogs are now used in studies to sniff out hard-to-detect cancers.
With this growth and exceptional potential to more fully live out the SAR motto, we formally changed the 501(c)(3) to the American Scent Dog Association and updated our organization’s creed, “Dedicated to the training and certification of dogs for human scent detection.”
Despite the name change, ASDA’s mission and objectives remain the same: to harness the incredible, olfactory senses of man’s favorite companion in order to save lives.
Q. Why is the detection of cancer by these amazing dogs so important?
A. Well, the short answer is that the dogs provide us with a capability that currently does not exist in medicine. With their amazing sensory abilities, their training potential, and their unique relationship with humans, dogs can provide the medical community with an unprecedented skill set.
I, along with my endocrinologist colleague, Dr. Don Bodenner, am investigating the detection of thyroid cancer in saliva, blood, or urine of metastatic (malignant) thyroid cancer patients. It is important to realize that current screening methods often have a hard time differentiating benign (not cancerous) from malignant (cancerous) nodules (lumps).
With current diagnostic methods, 20 to 40% of thyroid biopsies will not return a diagnosis after the patient is first biopsied. As a result, multiple biopsy procedures are required, each entailing the same probability of incomplete diagnosis. As a general rule, if a patient is not diagnosed after 3 biopsy attempts, they are then referred for surgical procedure. Of those patients who have been biopsied 3 times without nodule type confirmation, 80% will receive unnecessary surgery.
In other words, 80% of those with indeterminate biopsies who undergo thyroid removal surgery DID NOT require surgery. Imagine the time, expense, pain, and anxiety associated with all these procedures only to finally realize the lump in your throat was not cancer after all.
Now imagine if the dogs could tell you at the very beginning of your clinical treatment whether or not your lump was cancerous. This would greatly assist your doctor in determining the proper course of your clinical treatment and eventual cure. Further, the total time from diagnosis to cure would be dramatically shortened.
We have already demonstrated that the dogs can detect metastatic cancer in patient urine or blood with greater than 97% accuracy. Currently, we are determining if the dogs' examination upon patient presentation is predictive of the patients' clinical outcomes. These studies will help us determine their capability for early disease detection. If these studies have the anticipated results, it is then our intent to perform larger scale trials to validate their utilization in clinical practice and diagnosis.
Arny A. Ferrando, PhD
Center for Translational Research in Aging and Longevity
ASDA is a 501c(3) that uses canine scent capabilities to serve human needs. We specialize in search and rescue and cancer research.