More Exciting News! Your Help Is Appreciated!

Last year, Alex and Hope created history by being the first person with a service dog to run a  half marathon.  How exciting!  History in the making.  This year, they’re going to repeat their famous run again in the Las Vegas Rock & Roll marathon on December 4th by running the Half marathon again!  (Please come on out and cheer them on!)

So none of that is really news since we’ve told you that a while back.  Here’s the more exciting news part…

They’re going to create history again!

On January 7, 2012, they’ll be continuing their streak of awesomeness by doing the FULL Running from the Angel marathon on Jan 7, 2012 at Lake Mead


That’s right!  They’ll be there be the first person with a service dog to run a FULL Marathon – making history again!!  Whoo Hoo!

Hey, this is a fantastic event and Channel 3 will be covering their training and the races every step of the way!

And just as a reminder, why are they doing this?  Why are they working their behinds off to create these historic events?  So that they can raise money to provide service dogs to those in need and empower people to reach their full potential.  So if you haven’t done so yet, make sure you click that donate button on the website and help us achieve our goals.  Donations are very much appreciated and please make sure you help us spread the news as well.

You too can achieve what you put your mind too when you have Hope in your life.


They’re Doing It Again!

Let’s make history a second time!  Come out and support Alex and Hope as they repeat their history making run in the Las Vegas Marathon.  This time they’ll be Stripping at Night… we mean On The Strip At Night!

And if you’re saying, “Well, that’s not really making history again, they’ve already done it.”  Then think again!

They’re running the FULL marathon this time!  That’s right!  They’re not fooling around this time!

This will be the first time ever that a Service Dog and her handler will be running a FULL marathon – again – History in the making!  Part 2!!!

This is VERY exciting!  Channel 3 will be filming Alex and Hope as they train and you can follow their training progress on Facebook and Twitter!

Come out and support them as they’re going to need your energy and cheers to make it through!

And don’t forget, donations are always welcome as they are doing this to raise money for those who need Service Dogs throughout the area!

Join them as the

Date: Sunday, December 4, 2011
Start and Finish Locations: Mandalay Bay

For more details, go to

This is expected to be the World’s Largest Nighttime Event, so you definitely want to be there and be part of the fun!

Anything’s Possible With… Hope.

“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” ~Christopher Reeve

We’ve started training for the Vegas marathon albeit to a slow start. Hope’s in better shape than me….b%!ch!  Definitely going to have to go running today to keep upw with her.  Thankfully I only do this once a year.  We would appreciate any encouragement and/or support as we begin this journey. That and some back rubs wouldn’t hurt!!

How Should The Public Treat A Service Dog?

A Service Dog is trained to assist someone in need in several ways. Keep in mind that it is primarily a medical assistance aid and should be treated as such.

First, do not pet, make noises, or call to the Assistance Dog. If the dog is wearing its harness/vest/backpacks, this means it is working and should never be patted, or distracted by having its name called, this can distract it from it’s duties and be harmful to it’s handler. Do not give it excessive eye contact, make noises at it, or make it the center of attention. These may all cause the dog to take its concentration off the job and put the handler’s safety at risk.

Second, do not feed the dog. The Service Dog is fed a balanced diet by its handler. Other people should never feed the Service Dog. It may then learn to be on the lookout for tidbits, which again will distract the dog and place the handler’s safety at risk. It may also lead to obesity and health problems, possibly causing the dog’s working life to be shortened. If the Service Dog is not working, always ask the handler first for permission. If the handler agrees, always talk or pat the dog in a quiet and calm manner.

Next, talk to the handler, and not to the dog! Remember to talk to the Service Dog handler and not only to the dog. It is very frustrating for the Service Dog handler when people constantly talk to the dog and not to the handler. The Service Dog handler has been trained in the most appropriate techniques for working or correcting the dog. Please only provide assistance if requested by the Service Dog handler.

Keep these items in mind when running across a Service Dog and their handler and you’ll be safe and supportive.

What Can A Dog Do For A Person Who Is Disabled?

A service dog can do many tasks, depending on the person’s disability. A dog guide is the eyes for its blind handler, taking the handler around obstacles. A hearing dog alerts the handler to sounds, a Seizure Alert/Response dog responds when the handler has a seizure, and a Mobility Assist Dog (also called a Service Dog), is the arms and legs for a disabled person. A psychiatric service dog keeps a person with an psychiatric disorder calm and able to be going to out in public. There are many things a dog can do. And it’s amazing how empowering these animals can be for those in need.

It’s Official

On July 23, 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder signed final regulations revising the Department’s ADA regulations, including a revised definition of “service animal.” This final rule was published in the Federal Register September 15, 2010, and the effective date is six months after that publication (March 15, 2011).

Read more about the changes here:

History In The Making!

Come watch as Alex and Hope make history!

Never before has a person and their service dog ever completed a half marathon! Come join Alex and Hope in Las Vegas as they become the first dynamic duo in history to complete this incredible feat!

They’ll be completing the Rock ‘n’ Roll half Marathon along the Las Vegas Strip! This event will be held on December 5, 2010!

A rockin’ mix of running and live entertainment will be all acess along the Vegas Strip at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon & 1/2 Marathon. The Boulevard will be booming as more than 25,000 runners and walkers make their way to the finish line while moving and grooving to the electrifying beats of some of Vegas’ hottest music sensations. And after the race, celebrate with your favorite runners and enjoy live music, food and beer at the Post-Race Concert and Finish Line Festival. Rock out to power ballads and party anthems performed by electrifying headliner, Bret Michaels.

For more information on the event, go to



Come join Alex and Hope as they complete the half marathon and watch History in the making!

Alex found Hope, so can YOU!

There are individuals who let setbacks and pitfalls overwhelm their lives, there are those who overcome them, and then there’s Alex Dumas.

In 2003, Dumas was diagnosed with a debilitating terminal illness. Doctors gave her the proverbial “You only have so much time to live” speech. She would lose a considerable amount of weight, lose half a lung, have to wear gloves, protective dark glasses, and a mask for health reasons, and even have a stint in hospice. (Dumas requested that we withhold the specific name of her condition.) In 2006, Dumas was told she wouldn’t make it past June. After enduring a total of 28 surgeries, the possibility of never walking or seeing again-let alone death-was very real.

Alex proved everyone wrong.

She would harness her mental fortitude through the next few years. “I just don’t think you have a choice,” says Dumas. “I think when you lose everything that you have in your life, like your health, you have to depend only on yourself. You make yourself become a stronger person.”

The words “can’t” and “never” don’t apply to this talkative, spunky athlete. But a little help from a furry friend didn’t hurt.

Last year, after a two-month stay at the Mayo Clinic, Dumas’ confidence in her health was looking for a jolt. That’s when a Golden Labrador Retriever, aptly named Hope, was assigned to her.

Dumas never thought of herself as disabled. Everybody for the last three years suggested she get a seeing eye dog to help with her hearing and vision impairments on her left side. “I thought, ‘What am I going to get a dog for? How can they limit me like that?'” But she would eventually concede in August of 2006.

“The doctors didn’t give me any hope. That’s what’s kind of funny. I got hope when I got Hope,” she says. “Within a couple of months, I could start running again, because I wasn’t by myself. Hope can hear sounds that I can’t hear. She will put her body in front to stop me from going over something or from hurting myself. I know where she’s at, and I know if there’s a problem with her without seeing her. I can know if there’s a car behind me without seeing or hearing it.”

Soon, Dumas was allowed back on the treadmill and her condition improved. “I started regaining who I was again,” she adds. “I got Hope and something inside my head clicked subconsciously. I realized that I had to take care of Hope because she depended on me to live.”

Now the pair will make history when, for the first time ever, someone will run a marathon with a service dog. The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon will mark the northern Indiana resident’s return to her hometown of Chicago. They will enter in the regular field, not the handicapped or disabled divisions.

Alex And Hope

Back in March, Dumas recalls a conversation with her aunt when running a marathon was brought up. “I told her I was going to run the marathon and she told me I was crazy.” Alex’s aunt told her that it required too much training. Her aunt and others underestimated Dumas’ can-do, no-nonsense attitude. Says Dumas, “I think it’s sad that people let themselves be limited by everybody else-that they’ve never taken a stand in what they believe in.”

Their entry into the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon has never been about the publicity; Dumas realized only after her registration that she will be a groundbreaker when she runs the marathon with Hope. “I’m not doing the marathon for history, as ‘Oh, look at this.’ I’m doing it so other people who think they can’t do something can do it.”

It’s Dumas’ unflappable attitude, through a life-altering experience, and the significance of running with a dog named Hope, that will spur others-even non-runners-to find their own courage in adverse times. “I was given life there in Chicago, and I think it’s only fitting that I “run for life” with Hope there.

Marathons are a microcosm of life, demonstrating the will to accomplish what was once thought impossible. This is especially true for Dumas. “It was a kind of a thing that I wanted to know if I could do it … I looked healthier when I ran than when I didn’t run-and it’s good for Hope.”

Despite some limitations, Dumas and Hope have a few unorthodox tricks up their sleeves in between normal preparations. Dumas runs with a weight vest. She also fits in the traditional dog walks Hope requires, for stamina.

As for restrictions, she remains a realist. “I don’t set goals, like I have to run in 2:46, or something.” She’s also concerned for Hope: “I also have her to think about. Realistically, if I put extra pressure on myself, she’s going to feel it. There’s also physical therapy, and I knock ribs out in public all the time. My whole abdomen has been rebuilt so many times.”

Dumas is filled out well now and looks as if she never had health issues. Dumas’ family and friends have seen the health and personal changes she has had to navigate. Watching her battle with adversity has been hard, but also has helped them realize how much character Alex has.

“I couldn’t go through what she went through and still have as much confidence, or want to live as much as she does,” says Tom Wilson, her grandfather. “She keeps pluggin’ along. I’ve seen her down and out, and she just keeps coming back.”

Dumas feels hope has been somewhat forgotten in our world today. “People need to find it so they can believe in themselves again and have faith,” Dumas says, as she strokes Hope’s yellow coat. “When they can do that, they will get their miracle. The miracle is themselves.”

“I want everyone to know that anything is possible. You can do whatever you want-it’s just how bad you want it. Never think that you have to live with somebody else’s expectations. You don’t. What you do with your life is up to you, and you’re the only one who can limit it.”

Anthony Brass is an intern with Chicago Athletemagazine and a freelance writer in the Chicago area. Reach him at

Letter From Our Friend Rachel

Growing up, dogs were always in my life. I would play dress up with them, tell them all my secrets and complete with them in obedience competitions. Even at a young age, I knew that someday I would train dogs for a special purpose.

During my senior of high school, I was trying to find out how I can train service dogs. I looked into a couple of schools. Some of the schools wanted you to be a puppy raiser and the other school wanted you to have a few years of dog training skills before you apply. Here I was 19 years old…….I have only trained my dogs and I didn’t want to be a puppy raiser, I wanted to train dogs from start to finish.

After graduation, I moved to Roswell Georgia to be a nanny. It is there I found my dream job! A service dog school that was fairly new and needed volunteer trainers. While the children I cared for were at school, I would go to the school and train the dogs during the day. I found myself there at night too, training other volunteers how to train service dogs. In 1996, after my two year contract was complete, I started working as a full time trainer for this organization.

When I started at that school, there were only 12 dogs and they were house in the basement. By the time I left that school, 10 years later, they had over 150 dogs on sight and 2 buildings that housed the dogs. I will never forget the people I worked with, the dogs I got to train and all the lives that I changed with my dogs.

When I first started working full time, I wrote the founder a letter. Thanking her for this wonderful opportunity and also letting her know that it was my dream to one day to train service dogs in Indiana. In 2005, it was time. If I was ever going to start my own business, now was the time to do it. February 16, 2005, Northern Indiana Service Dogs, LLC was up and going.

Here you go Alex….why I got started training dogs….A little about me.

I also sent you a note about NISD and the Nevada badge

Make It Yours