Benefit: For the love of Weyekin

By Gail Geraghty
Staff Writer

CASCO — It’s not often that you hear of a yard sale to benefit a dog, but Weyekin, named after a Native American word meaning spirit guide, is not just any dog.

The 10-year-old Belgian sheepdog female is a registered and trained mobility service dog, and the best friend of part-time Bridgton Animal Control Officer Susan Fielder. Weyekin (pronounced why-a-kin) not only helps Fielder, who is disabled due to a childhood back injury, with activities of daily living, she also helps her train other service dogs and catch stray dogs.

Weyekin had her right leg amputated recently after she developed osteo sarcoma, and she now needs chemotherapy to give her the best chance of having several more years of a happy and productive life. A yard sale fundraiser for the dog will be held this Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 27 and 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., across from Chute’s Bakery on Route 302. Sebago Dock & Lift Co. is allowing use of part of their property for the sale.

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WHAT: Yard Sale benefit for Weyekin, the service dog

WHEN: Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 27-28, 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

WHERE: Across from Chute’s Bakery, Route 302, Casco

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The canine guest of honor, Weyekin, will be on hand at the yard sale, as will Fielder and other humans whose lives have been helped by the little dog.

Fielder has already raised between $4,000 and $5,000 for Weyekin’s medical costs through a combination of grants, hard work and a generous friend. She initially thought it would be enough, but a mistake was made on the estimate, she said. She now needs to raise another $2,500 to finish the chemo, blood work and testing.

“(Weyekin) needs some of the love and help that she has given out back to assist her in her hour of need,” Fielder said. “Without these chemo treatments, we are told Weyekin has maybe a year before the cancer will return.”

Even with her front leg being removed, Weyekin still wants to work, said Fielder, adding that one of her main jobs now is to get Weyekin to slow down and take it easy for awhile. Weyekin’s doctors are extremely pleased with her progress, said Fielder. “With doctor’s permission, she can do most of her duties.”

Fielder said she has let Weyekin do whatever she can, “which seems to be just about everything.” Weyekin has helped Fielder catch four dogs already, and will be working on helping her round up another stray dog this week.

It took several trips to the vet this spring, after Fielder first noticed Weyekin’s shoulder pain, before getting the diagnosis of osteo sarcoma in the upper right leg bone.

“All the vets consulted in Maine said there was nothing they could do — she would just have to put her down when the leg became too painful,” Fielder said.

After trying to no avail to explain that Weyekin was not just a pet, but a specially-trained service dog, Fielder contacted the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston, Mass. Instead of throwing up their hands, hospital officials said Weyekin was an excellent candidate for surgery and follow-up chemotherapy, said Fielder.

Weyekin is a mobility service dog, who helps Fielder pick up items, steadies her if she stumbles or falls, assists her in loading and unloading laundry in the washer and dryer and in pulling off her clothes. She also helps Fielder in the training of other dogs in service work and with the education of humans in the role of service dogs in the community.

Along with her duties as an ACO in Bridgton and other Lake Region towns, Fielder, of Raymond, is an Animal Behaviorist/Trainer, and “an all-around animal lover and rescuer,” she said. After her back injury, she decided to train her own dog to be a service dog, and has gone on to train several service dogs for others. She also assists those who need help, but can’t afford a fully-trained dog.

Anyone who would like to donate money to help with Weyekin’s chemotherapy may do so by mailing a check under the name of Weyekin Fielder to MSPCA Animal Medical Center-Boston, 350 South Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02130 or to Poland Animal Hospital, 1197 Maine Street, Poland, ME 04274.

Donations to the yard sale are also welcomed; Fielder may be reached by e-mail at acofielder@yahoo.com or find Weyekin Fielder on Facebook.

“Weyekin is a super special service dog, and very important to many in the community,” Fielder said. “She tends to help a lot of people in the area, both in my job as an ACO and in general. She has done therapy work in the past, and tends to love most people. She has helped so many.”

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