by Russ Bailey
Two of the biggest passions of my life have always been fishing and dog training. My two fishing shows, MidWest Crappie and Brushpile Fishing, have been blessings. I am also a retired police officer. During that career I trained over 400 police K9s. It is truly amazing to see what these dogs can accomplish.
I was hosting a crappie tournament last year at Chickamauga, Tennessee. While there, I was introduced to an amazing lady, Candi Burrows, who has the same passions as me. We talked about the fish that were weighed in and Candi began to tell me how much she loved dock shooting. She also told me that she was having a tournament later in the month. When I asked more about the tournament, I was simply amazed at what the tournament proceeds would be supporting.
Candi Burrows and her friend loves crappie fishing. They also provide service for a better life to those who need a helping hand, or paw.
Candi’s tournament, called Crappie for Canines. She said approximately five years ago she began volunteering for the (GADA) Goodwill Assistance Dog Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where GADA was started in 2010. This program to helps people with physical limitations or disabilities with the assistance of a service dog.
Training a police dog is easy compared to the training that goes into a service dog. A service dog will learn over 90 commands during it’s training. The help that these dogs give to their owners is immeasurable. Daily functions that most of us take for granted could not be accomplished without the help of these canines. Not only do these amazing animals help with daily activities, but they also help their owners with self-esteem, loneliness, and decreased stress.
One very sad fact is that only about 500 service dogs are placed each year in the U.S., and only about 1% of people actively seeking a canine partner are able to obtain one. This includes not only people with physical limitations, but also others like veterans with PTSD and other disorders.
Candi said her love for fishing mixed with a desire to help raise money for the service dog program led to the first Annual Crappie for Canines Tournament in 2013. She donated the money to organize the tournament, money she would normally donate to GADA, and the crappie fishing community did not let her down. She was able to double the donation! In 2014 the tournament raised $4000!!
Candi also discussed Team Training Camp. The camp is where the service dog recipients learn to work with their canine partners. I could tell this was definitely Candice’s soft spot, as she was a volunteer at the camp.
This year, the goal for the tournament is to raise money to help with the 2015 GADA class, which will consist of two canines, named Courage and Independence. What fitting names for great companions.
In closing, I noted that Candi Burrows was always praising the work of the other people in the organization. It was never about her, but about the program, canines, recipients, volunteers, and the anglers who help make it all possible. A person of her dedication, love for the program and enthusiasm is priceless.
To learn more about this great program, tournament, to donate items or cash, please check out: www.facebook.com/crappieforcanines , www.facebook.com/goodwilldogs or www.goodwillchatt.org