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Archive for Thursday, December 14, 2000

Golden retriever stays in tune as Salvation Army bell-ringer

December 14, 2000

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— This hunting dog fetches bucks, not ducks.

He's Mitch, a 4-year-old golden retriever who this year has become one of the Salvation Army's star holiday bell ringers.

Since he can't hold a bell, he rings it with his paw.

His owner, Rhonda Sullivan, said it took almost two months to teach Mitch how to ring his bell, which is attached to a candy cane-striped pole. She said the idea came to her this summer when Mitch was in an obedience class learning other simple tricks.

"Once you teach a dog how to touch something, getting them to do these more advanced tricks isn't hard," Sullivan said. "He enjoys the people, and he gets a lot of attention, which he also loves."

Sullivan said she thought of making Mitch a bell ringer because of the positive attention he would draw.

"Once he got used to the environment out here, he was just fine," Sullivan said. "This breed is very smart and are easy to train to do simple tricks like this. People just absolutely love to see a dog do tricks and give money to see him ring his bell."

Capt. Richard Trimmell of the Salvation Army said he has never heard of a bell-ringing dog. However, he said it was an innovative idea and sure to bring in additional donations.

"People always come up with fun and exciting ideas to attract people," Trimmell said. "Teaching a dog to ring a bell is pretty clever, and I am sure the people absolutely love it."

Sullivan said Mitch who does have a fur coat, after all doesn't mind the cold weather and likes spending time outside.

She said she plans to bring him out again next year.

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