December 3, 2010

For 9 year old, it's all about helping the dogs

Cheyenne Basler, center, holds a check donated to New England K-9 Search
 and Rescue from Speedway Children’s Charities earlier this week.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- Most kids enjoy when animals visit their classroom, but one search and rescue dog demonstration at a Derry preschool four years ago really hit home for Cheyenne Basler, then 5 years old. 
After playing with rescue dogs from New England K9 Search and Rescue and learning about the group’s mission at school, Cheyenne went home and told her mother she wanted to get involved. 
“She looked at me after day care and said she would love to be able to work with dogs like that and that she wanted to do something to help them,” said Cheyenne’s mother, Bridget Basler. 
That year, Cheyenne handed her friends homemade birthday party invitations asking that they donate money to New England K9 instead of buying her gifts. 
Cheyenne raised about $100 at her 6th birthday party but decided to continue with fundraising efforts every year since. 
“I really like dogs, and I just wanted to help,” said Cheyenne, now 9. Altogether, Cheyenne and her family have raised more than $500 for New England K9 through annual fundraising efforts at a local Dunkin’ Donuts. 
“I’m very proud of her and what she’s done,” Bridget Basler said. “Even just standing out there for an hour or more is impressive at her age.” 
New England K9 is made up of about 15 teams throughout the region that respond to between 30 and 50 calls for service every year. 
Lyon said teams also visit more than 1,500 students every year, demonstrating the dogs’ tracking abilities and teaching kids what to do if they are lost. 
“Children have usually seen something on the news and the idea of being lost is a very powerful idea for kids,” Lyon said. “We talk a lot about personal responsibility and that it’s really important for kids to understand that when they get lost they still have their brain, and they can use that to help them stay warm and dry until we find them.” 
And with an all-volunteer force, Lyon said support like Cheyenne’s is crucial. 
“We don’t pay our handlers anything, but we still need GPS units and very highlevel radio communications equipment,” Lyon said. “And we also have lots of school program handouts and materials for the kids.” 
After a new fundraising event last month, Cheyenne and her family are sending another $100 or so their way. 
“I think Cheyenne is a really special little girl, and her parents are too because they really helped her make this happen,” Lyon said. 

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