Milwaukie service dog to receive statewide award
For his role in helping others cope with trauma and bringing awareness to mental health issues, the Oregon Humane Society is honoring Milwaukie service dog Jackie Chan with a Diamond Collar Award.
Denise Emmerling-Baker and her 7-year-old service dog have been seen volunteering at many local events, committees and meetings throughout the Milwaukie and Portland areas over the past several years.
"As their bond strengthened, Denise and Jackie Chan grew as a team," said Laura Klink, an OHS spokesperson. "This sweet little dog's constant presence opened a dialogue about mental health issues and PTSD."
Emmerling-Baker was drawn to OHS to see if a dog might provide some comfort and a path to feeling normal after a kidnapping attempt and home invasion in 2012. She had been paralyzed with fear and sought compassion from OHS staff in finding a canine partner.
As she describes it, when OHS staff presented her with Jackie Chan, "We had an instant connection. ... He is my prescription and my therapy. He's given me the independence I used to have. He's allowed me to come home."
Watch a video of Jackie Chan:
Emmerling-Baker, who has a doctorate degree in educational leadership, and Jackie Chan have traveled together across the country regularly since 2013 to volunteer as national social justice, diversity and cultural competence trainers for the National Education Association's civil-rights initiatives.
Jackie Chan, a Jack Russell terrier mix, also comes with Emmerling-Baker when she works in classrooms as a substitute teacher for the North Clackamas School District. The dog is accompanies her as she tutors students of immigrant families who moved to the Portland area for business and speak English as a second language. She was able to work again with Jackie Chan at her side to calm and comfort her if the demons from her past tightened their grip.
Her dog has attended many local committee meetings and events with her as she volunteered as a member of the Milwaukie Arts Committee. Although no longer a member of the panel, Emmerling-Baker still helps curate an annual benefit show. Recent fundraisers, including Art to End Alzheimer's, often include art prints of Jackie Chan for donations.
Emmerling-Baker and Jackie Chan volunteer as part of the Downtown Milwaukie Business Association and help out with First Friday events. The dog is a regular visitor to art gallery receptions in the greater Portland area and is welcomed by gallery owners, in particular Basic Space Gallery, J. Pepin Gallery and Augen Gallery in Portland. The pair attend many author readings and civic events, and Jackie Chan is present as Emmerling-Baker speaks up at City Council and neighborhood meetings.
A painting Emmerling-Baker did of Jackie Chan titled "Are you home yet" was sold last year in a Portland'5 Centers for Arts show benefiting the Oregon Humane Society. She plans to submit another painting for consideration to the 2019 P5 show "Pedals and Paws."
"Jackie Chan is often a muse for paintings I do annually for benefit shows and other shows," she said.
The dog continues to work with her even though he almost died of pneumonia and is a survivor of megaesophagus, a dilation of the esophagus that holds in food, rather than allowing it to pass into his stomach. Since he acquired the condition in 2015, he has been on a special diet and eats in a chair.
Jackie Chan will be honored along with other animal and human heroes that have performed services within their communities with undying loyalty while overcoming incredible odds, at a celebratory luncheon at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland. The event is sold out.
For more information, visit oregonhumane.org.