Recently CDK lost a valued volunteer. Millhouse, hearing dog to long-time volunteer Tom Rich, passed away, February 2019. This fun loving mixed breed rescue dog had so much to give. Once partnered with Tom as a hearing dog, he embraced Tom, and all Tom did. They touched the lives of many students
and adults providing educational presentations about service dogs across much of the United States.
Millhouse worked to alert Tom to sounds he could no longer hear. He did this day in and day out alerting to traffic, alarms, phones ringing, people calling Tom’s name and more. He enjoyed his work. He enjoyed showing people his work. I believe he never thought of it as work but as the best game he
played every day with Tom.
Millhouse and Tom have educated thousands of individuals about service dogs and the independence they bring to their partners. Tom asks that you help celebrate Millhouse and the dual roles he filled –working hearing dog and educator – by contributing to the CDK Millhouse Scholarship. Donations made in memory of Millhouse will be awarded as a scholarship for a child receiving a service dog. Donationscan be made online or by mail. Please note your gift is in memory of Millhouse.
Message from Tom:
It is with great sadness that Joanne and I mourn the passing of service dog for hearing, “Millhouse”. He was a little over twelve years old, born on January 15, 2007. He was part Border Collie and Alaskan Husky. In his first year of life he went through five
different homes. People chose him because he was a cute puppy, not realizing he belonged to two working breeds. “Millhouse” kept being returned to the Worcester Animal Rescue shelter. On the day he was scheduled to be put to sleep, NEADS trainer, Brian Jennings was looking for a dog to train as my next partner. My previous service dog for hearing, “Jessie”, age thirteen, had passed away two months before.
After doing some initial testing with “Millhouse”, Brian determined that he was a good candidate to train as a service dog. He was amazed that considering he had been in five previous homes, that no one taught him a basic command, like sit. Apparently, “Millhouse” just needed someone to tell him what to do and how to use all the energy he
had. After about five months of training, including some prison training time, “Millhouse” became a certified service dog for hearing. “Millhouse” and I began our partnership in March 2008. He exemplified in every way what a service dog should be.
For eleven years, day in and day out, he was constantly by my side alerting me to the everyday sounds a hearing person takes for granted. On the second night in “Millhouse’s” forever home, he responded and told me that the dryer buzzed. This was a sound that he had not been trained for. To Joanne’s delight, now that I could “hear”, I
was now regulated to folding the clothes from the dryer. Also, he alerted me to the mail truck stopping by, woke me to the alarm clock, someone stopping by, Joanne wanting me for chores, low battery alarms in our detectors, neighbor getting deliveries, and
even checking on us when we sneezed. While we were traveling, he also alerted me after midnight and predawn to three fire alarms in hotels. We greeted the firefighters in the parking lot as he was trained to get me out when the fire alarm goes off. The list goes on and on.
As many of you know, besides being my ears, “Millhouse” was an ambassador and demo dog for Canines for Disabled Kids, whose office is located in Worcester, MA. As a team over the past ten years or so we traveled extensively up and down the east coast and beyond providing service dog presentations, manning information booths, and talking to individuals and groups. Scouting organizations, too numerous to count, had us present. We helped hundreds of girl scouts earn their “Animal Helpers” badge. Veterans groups would request us for presentations. We visited Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, DC, three times at the D-Day WWII Memorial in Bedford, VA., VA hospitals
and Veterans organizations. Joanne and I received security clearances to go on active duty military bases in various parts of New England.
“Millhouse” has traveled to the prairies of Kansas for a four day 4H
celebration, provided presentations and maintained booth events in Tucson, AZ, Pittsburgh, PA, Richmond, VA, Baltimore, MD, to name a few locations. These requests often involved repeat visits. In addition, Lions Clubs, Rotary Clubs, and Granges were
some of the many requested visitations for “Tom and “Millhouse””. He had yearly standing requests at schools and colleges, including Westford, MA, for 6 years, Newton North High School Deaf inclusion program, 5 years, and Assumption College, 6 years.
He educated hundreds of students from kindergarten to graduate school. We participated in “Light It Up Blue for Autism”, Ability Expos and Pet Expos. When requested, we traveled by car, airplane, train, and boat to educate about the various types of service dogs, and demonstrate what a service dog for hearing can perform.
Canines for Disabled Kids is a non-profit that provides service dog educational programs, supports parents who feel that a service dog might be a good tool to help their disabled child and provides scholarships to help defray some of the costs of
children obtaining a service dog. CDK is naming a scholarship in honor of “Millhouse” and all that he stands for. If you would like to donate, you can do so in two ways:
Online at www.caninesforkids.org, select secure donate button, be sure to add “Millhouse’s” name under the remarks section; or submit a check to Canines for Disabled Kids and reference “Millhouse” on the memo line. Mail your donation to:
Canines for Disabled Kids, 65 James Street, Suite 210, Worcester, MA 01603.
“Millhouse” had a gentle spirit that touched so many lives. We know he is now running free in heaven with his hearing dog predecessors, ” Sandy”, “Jessie”, and “Gracie”.