By Del Duduit
This might sound sappy but it’s true. A dog can make a positive difference in someone’s life — especially when it comes to a special needs child or one suffering in a hospital. Dream Fetchers is all about helping people in need by introducing a trained dog into their lives. It brings movie star dogs to schools, hospitals and wherever the need presents itself to visit children who are sick, underprivileged or disabled.
“We just want to bring a smile to a child with the help of a dog star they may have seen on TV or in a movie,” said Debbie Pearl who founded Dream Fetchers in 2005. She has worked with “movie star” dogs and began traveling with them in 1994. That’s when she made a trip with a dog to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee and had an epiphany.
“I saw a wonderful power and amazing effect a dog can have on a child,” she said. “I knew that I needed to do this the rest of my life.” After researching and planning, Dream Fetchers was born.
It’s an organization that is doing wonderful things. But like most non-profits, it needs financial help. Unfortunately, it costs money to take trained dogs across the country to visit children. But the smiles they bring to the faces of sick children is priceless.
“I just want everyone to see what we are doing and see the impact these dogs have on kids,” Debbie said. “I’ve seen children who haven’t spoken for days just light up when a dog comes into a room. There is just something special about a dog and a child.”
Debbie told me there are four divisions to Dream Fetchers:
1 – Project Hollywood: Movie star dogs visit hospitals or other facilities and entertain children or elderly who might be sick or suffering. Debbie has traveled to such places as the Boston Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House, just to name a few.
2 – Project Wag: Dogs are trained as service dogs for people with autism and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Debbie said many veterans own dogs, and Dream Fetchers help train their animals. “Each person is different, and we train their dogs for that person’s needs,” she added.
3 – Project Outreach: This is designed to work with hospitals and schools for children going through occupational therapy. The dogs will be used to assist teachers and therapists to help children adapt better. “Dogs are so therapeutic, and children will do things to impress and make dogs happy,” Debbie said.
4 – Project Angel Dog: A dog will be provided to a family to come to their aid during an end-of-life situation. “A child was dying and really wanted a dog but was never able to get one,” Debbie said. “So we created this program for that need.” She said the program is developing, and she is currently working with Hospice facilities.
The biggest obstacle for Dream Fetchers is financial. Debbie said she is constantly trying to raise money to make the program successful. The organization is a non-profit 501C3 and is operated out of California but also has a branch in Rhode Island.
“We would love it so much if some people found it in their heart to help,” Debbie said. “And it doesn’t have to be all money.”
If anyone can donate essential things like business cards or assist in designing brochures or providing help with public relations, that would be beneficial. “We would love it if someone who can write grants could help us in that arena,” she added. “Donations can come in so many forms.”
Dream Fetchers is a wonderful concept that needs your help. If you can help Debbie and her dogs bring some smiles to children’s faces, then please consider.
I have wonderful memories of all the dogs I have had over the years, and my conversation with Debbie brought back a lot of them. And she is right. When I was young and having a bad day, I usually went to my dog, because he was always happy to see me. He got up close to me and made sure I patted his head. He made me feel better and never blamed me for anything. I enjoyed taking care of him, and he took care of me too with his unconditional love and devotion.
Debbie has a real burden to use her dogs and years of experience to help these children. Her heart is in the right place. Help her to help these kids who want nothing more than a wag of the tail from man’s best friend.
Visit Dream Fetcher’s website here.
Visit the group’s Facebook page here.
You can also send an email for more information on how to get involved to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you involved with any charities? Is this one you might consider helping?
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.” I Corinthians 13:4