Dr. Bonita Bergin, Pioneer in field of Service Dogs

Dr. Bonita Bergin–who in 1975 invented the concept of the service dog to assist people with mobility limitations, at which point she founded Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), the first non-profit organization to train and place service dogs–discusses where and how she got the inspiration for the service dog idea, including that, at this point, she had no background with dogs and how most friends and colleagues initially made it clear they thought this was a nutty notion.

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She also addresses her years with Canine Companions after launching the organization and how she reached a crossroad, where she would’ve redoubled her commitment to the service side of service dogs or pursued the research and academic side, the latter path being the one she chose in creating the institution that is now called Bergin University of Canine Studies. Dr. Bergin explains what additional information she’s learned about dogs through these decades of study, research and training, including stages of what motivates their learning and service, culminating in a phase that involves a moral sense; she says this moral sense will be the focus of her next book. She also comments on the traits that are essential for a good, effective service dog, what’s the most misunderstood aspects of dogs, and more. (www.BerginU.edu)

ALSO: We had a brief, in-studio conversation with singer-songwriter-guitarist and Tampa treasure Ronny Elliott about his then-impending 65th Birthday Concert, as well as his longtime love of animals, including being a vegetarian for nearly 50 years. Ronny also performed an animal song: “Down Home On The Farm.”

COMEDY CORNER: Jim Gaffigan’s “Whales” (part one) (www.JimGaffigan.com)

MUSIC: Ronny Elliott And Animal Geniuses’ version of *See You Later, Alligator” and Ronny Elliott performed live in studio: a version of “Down Home On The Farm,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Squeeze’s “Cool For Cats”

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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