Elly: Mom teaches, learns
NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio – For Elly Organiscak, it all started with a Google search.
“You will read it and hear it that 4 Paws is magical. It really is…”
After researching service dog agencies, she found her home with 4 Paws for Ability. That’s when she and her family decided to open their home and took in their first foster dog April 25, 2009. He was 5-month-old, yellow Labrador Retriever, Monkey of the Ben and Jerry’s Litter.
Over the next 2 ½ years, 42-year-old Organiscak would foster six puppies from Labs to Papillons.
Beyond that, the Organiscak household includes two of their own rescue dogs, Cabela, a miniature pinscher, rescued from a puppy mill and Sonny, a German shepherd, pulled from a high-kill shelter. But she calls her family, ‘typical.’
“My husband Tim is very supportive of my passion [for dogs] and loves to joke around. He is the ‘social part’ of the relationship I like to say,” said Organiscak.
Aaron is Elly’s oldest at 14 years old, but does not share his mom’s passion for dogs. That bond is with her 12-year-old daughter Hailey.
Her lifelong inspiration has always been her dad, she said, who was born with low vision, losing his sight completely at 3 years old.
“He was a dog lover, but my mom had allergies so we could never have a dog. I always loved dogs and I loved watching the seeing-eye dogs, and always wished my dad could have one,” said Elly.
In the back of her head, she said that she always thought how cool it would be to puppy raise a GED puppy. However, after looking into it, she realized that having a dog for two years would be too much for her family to take on at that time.
“After my dad passed away in 2005, the thoughts kept dancing in my head, and our family came to a time in our lives when it would be possible to follow this dream of mine.”
That’s when she said she Googled service dog agencies and came across 4 Paws for Ability. It was a pawfect match!
“I was intrigued with their short-term fostering. I read all about Karen. I watched her video, [watched] her struggles [and it] reminded me so much of my dad and how much he fought for position in life,” she said. “He was one of the first blind college students to graduate from John Carroll in 1955. In a nutshell, it was something I could do to give back.”
Now, having fostered several service dogs in-training for 4 Paws for Ability, she said those foster dogs have taught her a thing or two as well.
“They have taught me patience!”
And she remembers each and every one of them.
-Monkey, the yellow Labrador Retriever, was so laid back and calm, but look out if a dog walked into the room BAM! out the door play, play, play. We worked really hard on doggie distractions but it was just him he believes all dogs should love him and still does. If there were no dogs around you would have to look for a heart beat.
-Desi, beautiful Desi. She was my longhaired GSD. She was glued to me and service dog work was just too stressful for her. She just wanted to be your loyal girl and be with you and because of this she ended up in wonderful pet home that loves her dearly.
-Tye, the golden boy of the clan melted my whole family and he was on track for service dog work. He loved kids and attracted a crowd. He was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and so it was decided that he was to be placed in a pet home. He is a Certified Therapy Dog.
-I was honored to foster Ezekiel, Karen’s own personally bred GSD. He was such an amazing dog. He was confident, calm, obedient and a handsome boy. He is a service dog in Arizona.
-Jubilee lived up to her name. If you have never had a Papillon or you thought, ‘I don’t like little dogs,’ all you had to do is meet her and she would warm you right up. She absolutely loved my husband (who is not a little dog person) and had a huge personality to boot. She was saucy, bossy and demanding. Social butterfly = Jubilee.
-My last foster was Pirate and I thought I had challenges before. He is keeping me on my toes. While he didn’t make the cut as a service dog, he has found his furever home.
-My present foster is Clank, a Golden Retriever puppy.
Each personality is unique and precious to her. But with as many dogs that she has fostered, giving them back to 4 Paws for Ability so that they can receive their training to ultimately become a much-needed service dog, never gets any easier for her.
“I miss them and I would be lying if I said I don’t cry. I always cry,” she said. “I cry because I will miss them. I cry because I know they are going on. My family just shakes their head and says, ‘Oh mom.’”
“You think it will be easier after you have fostered so many, but each of them leave a permanent mark in your heart and ‘goodbyes’ are very hard.”
However, when Elly sits among other families and foster homes and volunteers at 4 Paws for Ability during class graduation, it makes all those tears turn from sadness to sheer joy.
“[It’s] totally serine, but it makes me feel complete inside,” said Elly, who just recently watched Jubilee aka JuJu Bean, a seizure-alert Papillon, graduate in December with her boy Joel.
Knowing that she has given a home to a dog who will be such an amazing animal is like no other feeling, she said. It’s the best part of fostering.
“I don’t think it is something you can explain. It is something you have to experience for yourself. When I see pictures of my foster dogs in their homes with their families my heart just beams with pride, sometimes I just stare at their pictures and tears of happiness stream down my face.”
On the other hand, it’s also hard when she finds out one of her foster pups didn’t make the cut as a service dog.
“When I get that e-mail I just cry, it breaks my heart. Jennifer has told me every dog is a success, but when you foster you have that goal in your mind, you dream of your foster dog kissing their partner. You dream of who they could be with and what they will do you never dream they won’t make it as a service dog.”
These dogs who Elly fosters, training them to be more social and comfortable around people and public spaces, have essentially taken her out of her own shell. A once self-proclaimed anti-social person now joins other dog-friends on Facebook and is constantly planning her next social outing with her foster dog.
Fostering for Elly has helped her just as much as she helps these dogs.
Photos & story by Jessica Noll-Korczyk
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