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The original item was published from 10/31/2014 4:58:13 PM to 11/6/2014 4:14:54 PM.

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Posted on: October 31, 2014

[ARCHIVED] Service dog and owner revisit Hot Springs to celebrate 10-year adoption anniversary

Eric Talaska of Murfreesboro, Arkansas wanted an outside guard dog. After looking around many places, he was about to give up when on Monday, November 1, 2004 he decided to try Hot Springs Animal Services, slightly more than an hour’s drive away. There, he was handed a three-month-old beagle-terrier mix named Tippy, who was put up for adoption because his former owner didn't have the time to train him not to scratch their screen doors.

“Tippy gave me that incredibly friendly look and I knew right then he was the one,” Talaska said. He paid the $50 fee, signed a paper, and they handed Tippy over in a compact paper box.

This is coincidentally the second beagle in Eric's family named Tippy. Tippy was anxious during the drive to Murfreesboro, unsure of what was going on. Upon arrival, Tippy started digging in the yard. Eric decided to let him inside and trained him to do a lot of tricks. Tippy insisted on staying inside most of the time, so he was allowed to sleep on the bed. Gradually, Tippy advanced from being afraid of going in the car to rushing to the door in excitement every time Eric grabbed the keys.

Over the years, Eric and Tippy hiked or walked about two miles per day for a total of 7,300 miles. Tippy became an off-leash dog or, as they call it in Colorado where he lived for awhile, a “sight and sound” tagged dog. There are not very many dogs that behave as well as Tippy does off-leash. However, care has to always be taken around roads.

Tippy was always part of the family and was close with Rudy, a Chihuahua who was close to Talaska’s late parents and who lived to be 18 years old. Tippy is the only family member Eric has left that he can be close with. Tippy has been Eric's only loyal friend throughout the past 10 years.

Tippy is unusually healthy and active for his age. Talaska brushes Tippy's teeth daily, feeds him organic dog food, and gives him lots of attention to keep him healthy. Tippy actually does yoga stretches and smiles. One of Tippy's most astonishing displays of intelligence is his ability to recognize vehicles by make, model, year and color -- even at night -- and associate them with people he knows. He is a near perfect pet, requiring no measurable discipline.

Talaska and Tippy have moved 19 times together over the past 10 years, staying in dozens of different hotels. It was always a big hurdle to figure out ways to travel with Tippy. In 2013, Talaska learned he could convert Tippy into being a service dog, so he did. Service dogs are protected by laws under the Department of Justice. “Traveling is now much better than ever. I even took Tippy up on the Peak-to-Peak Gondola, the world's highest ski lift, and where no other dogs are allowed in Whistler, Canada. Tippy did very well and helped me overcome my fear of heights,” Talaska said. Talaska and Tippy are currently relocating to the Hot Springs region from Washington state to escape the brutal winter, there since their rental home is too hard to heat.

Talaska built a website just for Tippy with photos and a dog care guide on . Because of how close Talaska and Tippy are, he has more respect than ever for other life. Talaska feels it is better to adopt pets than to buy from breeders and pet shops to prevent euthanizing the ones waiting for new homes in the animal shelters. Tippy was scheduled to be euthanized if someone didn't adopt him very soon after Talaska did.

Talaska and Tippy will be at Hot Springs Animal Services, 319 Davidson Drive, at 10 a.m. on Monday, November 3 to celebrate the 10 years since Tippy’s adoption there. The public is welcome to stop by, and Talaska would be happy to answer any questions about dog care, service animals and more. The shelter’s web page with photos of adoptable pets is located on the City of Hot Springs’ website, .

Additional contacts
Eric Talaska, pet owner, (509) 499-5212,
Dan Bugg, Animal Services Director, (501) 262-2091,

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