Louisville Magazine

SEP 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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12 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 9.18 LIBA Partner Pages pawswithpurpose.org Whenever Laura Serke goes to a restaurant, the theater or out for ice cream, she always takes a guest. That guest would be an 80-pound furry friend named Ranger. "He's one-and-a-half years old and he's awesome," says Serke, a part-time puppy trainer for Paws with Purpose. "He's half labrador and half golden retriever and he loves getting a bath and being brushed. Anywhere I go, my friends know that he's coming with me." Ranger is even a patron of the arts. He's been to two musicals at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts and his favorite was the Grinch musical by Dr. Seuss. "We went to the theater one time and he licked the person sitting in front of us," Serke says. "She didn't even know the dog was there until the intermission. She thought she had felt wet shoestrings on her neck when Ranger had given her a quick lick." Alas, that's why it's called "training." Ranger and Serke are inseparable on weekends. Serke, a 34-year-old U of L Hospital dietitian and lactation consultant, trades in her medical duties for sneakers and a leash every Saturday and Sunday. Ranger started coming to her home on weekends when he was eight weeks old, and he'll soon be graduating from this initial training after spending a year-and-a-half with Serke. "Ranger's parents are already service dogs A conversation with Laura Serke, part time puppy trainer for Paws with Purpose By Rachel Reynolds with Paws with Purpose and I know he's going to be great," Serke says. The non-profit organization trains and provides service dogs at no cost to three groups of people: U.S. combat veterans with PTSD; people with mobility issues who use canes, walkers or wheelchairs; and children with autism. PwP serves clients within 35 miles of Louisville. "It's really cool to see how much impact a dog can have on someone's life," Serke says, adding that she's not sad when she has to give a dog up after training because she knows that the dog's new owner will receive life- changing companionship. As a part-time puppy trainer, Serke's job is to reinforce training cues and expose Ranger to a wide variety of social encounters. She has taken him to music festivals, street fairs, cafes and friends' and family's homes. "He's even been to Churchill Downs for Downs After Dark," Serke says. "He had his nose up to the paddock and was really curious about the horses. He loves to people watch." Serke also takes Ranger to the Frazier Rehab facility so that he can spend time with patients and get used to being in medical settings. "Ranger puts his front two paws up on the bed," Serke says. "Sometimes, with permission, he even gets into bed with the person and snuggles."

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