Hawaii CAN Announces First Service Dog Placement

March 3rd, 2010

March 2010

FROM: Hawaii Canine Assistance Network (Hawaii CAN)
P O Box 831
Kaneohe, HI 96744
Phone: (808) 781-2596
Email: info@hawaiican.org
Web: hawaiican.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hawaii Canine Assistance Network Proudly Announces First Service Dog Placement–Grandfather of Decathlon Gold Medalist, Bryan Clay, Shares Placement Testimonial

The Hawaii Canine Assistance Network (Hawaii CAN), a Hawaii 501 (c)(3) nonprofit corporation, is proud to announce its first service dog placement. At its inaugural fundraiser: Green Dog Night—a “far out” fundraiser dinner open to people and their dogs to raise funds for Hawii CAN’s assistance dog programs, Hawaii CAN will officially release their first service dog, “Mojo,” to the grateful hands of Mr. Tsumoru “Jiji” Ishimoto.

At this fur-friendly celebration on Saturday, March 20, from 6 to 9 pm at the Keehi Lagoon Veteran’s Memorial, John A Burns Hall, guests including Ishimoto’s family and friends, local dignitaries, and Hawaii CAN trainers, will honor Ishimoto as he shares his inspiring testimonial of being paired with Mojo—his “golden” angel. Guests will be moved as they hear the story of how a hard-working, humble “local boy” found a new life in his golden years through the courageous heart of Mojo, a beautiful golden retriever who has finally found his purpose in service to and companionship with Ishimoto.

Hawaii CAN’s Green Dog Night promises to be a great opportunity for photos and videos. All members of the press are invited. Opportunities to promote this event through interviews and appearances are also welcome and appreciated. Learn more about Ishimoto’s and Mojo’s journey below.

Ishimoto was born on February 8, 1924. He is the eldest son of hard-working Japanese farmers who originally emigrated from Hiroshima to find a new life in the sugar cane plantations of Kohala and Hamakua. After being drafted to the United States Army in 1944, Ishimoto built a successful 20-year career in the military, retiring at the height of the Vietnam War and returning to Honolulu with his family of five in tow. He and his wife, Kuniko (Kay) Morita, who he met while serving in Japan, did not know what lay ahead of them but had dreams of working hard and building a prosperous life.

Much like his father before him, who owned C & W Bakery on South King Street, Ishimoto eventually started his own business which became one of the major oriental pickle manufacturing companies in the State of Hawaii for 25 years. In his elderly years, Ishimoto survived a brain tumor and was challenged with a multitude of health-related ailments which resulted in gait abnormalities, decreased independence with self-care tasks, a loss of hearing, and limited access to the community. This once active and vibrant man, was now limited in his movements and confined to his home. But, soon a large Golden Retriever was about to change things.

Mojo was shipped from California by a well-known local breeder as a puppy to become part of her breeding program. He was named “Mojo,” a slang term made popular by Mike Myers in the movie “Austin Powers” in reference to the male libido as was intended to be a stud dog for the breeding program. Alas, it was not meant to be and Mojo did not qualify for the breeding program.

So, disappointedly, the breeder neutered Mojo. Mojo lived with three families before being placed with Tiffany Kawaguchi, Founder and President of Hawaii CAN. Mojo was affectionately called the “Marley dog” because like the dog, Marley, in the book “Marley and Me,” he dug up sprinkler systems, ate rocks, and had vomit and poop episodes from all his mischief!

Finally, in June 2008, Mojo was placed with Kawaguchi and found purpose as a service dog in-training for Hawaii CAN. As a part of his training Mojo participated in Project Puppy Raise (Project P.RAISE), a community partnership program between the Hawaii State Hospital (HSH) and Hawaii CAN. In this partnership, Hawaii CAN provides service dogs in-training to the Hospital’s Animal Assisted Therapy program where they are trained, socialized, groomed, and “loved on” by HSH clients. As he learned to open drawers using positive reinforcement techniques and was showered love by Hawaii CAN trainers and HSH clients, Mojo’s mischief stopped. He had found his calling.

Mojo’s uncertain journey has now found a happy ending in his pairing with Ishimoto. This lovable golden retriever who loves picking up “soft stuff” like blankets and socks and who loves to hoard tennis balls now has a reason to serve. When joyous—whether working, playing, and/or simply being hugged—Mojo snorts. He will be doing a lot of snorting with Ishimoto as they plan for a new life together going to the mall, going to church, and traveling. Ishimoto plans to use Mojo to travel to California to visit his grandson, Decathlon Olympic Gold Medalist, Bryan Clay.

For more information, call (808) 489-9898 or email info@hawaiican.org. Or visit our website at hawaiican.org.

About Hawaii Canine Assistance Network (Hawaii CAN)

Hawaii CAN is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation fulfilling our two-fold mission of raising and training service dogs for persons with disabilities in Hawai`i while serving our community in rehabilitating “at-risk” populations.

In Hawai`i, it is estimated that 150,000 people are living with disabilities. Of these 150,000 persons, an estimated 22,000 have difficulty with self-care and mobility in their home and while in public. A service dog trained in skills and behaviors that match a person’s needs, health considerations, and lifestyle can greatly improve one’s independence and quality of life. Service dogs provide two additional benefits: (1) they create an emotional outlet for their human companion while giving unconditional love and (2) they serve as a “bridge” between the “disabled world” and the “nondisabled world.”

Hawaii CAN raises, trains and places skilled service dogs with people in Hawai`i who have physical disabilities. Hawaii CAN is also forging partnerships with health care, educational and other forensic facilities that will use our service dogs in-training to teach vocational and life management skills as well as facilitate interpersonal rehabilitation for “at-risk” populations within such facilities. In exchange, our service dogs in-training are able to acquire the training, socialization and skills needed to become certified service dogs.

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