Guest post by Sheila M Duncan.
Since co-creating the character of Trouble The Dog, Sheila has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the issues children and their families are facing in today's world. Also, she continues to donate Trouble plush dogs and books to those who need comfort and hope most of all. Trouble is not simply a plush dog, but a proven coping mechanism for those going through tough times. Inspired by the generosity of her entrepreneur father, Ken Duncan, Sheila decided to form The Kennek Foundation to expand her reach as the requests for donations and visits from Trouble the Dog are continuously increasing.
Thanks to the generosity of Speedway Children's Charities, Trouble the Dog is now in the hands of many NH children. First responders use Trouble, the stuffed animal, as a coping mechanism for children they serve who are going through unimaginable situations. Trouble The Dog is given to children in crisis at the moment of impact for comfort.
This is the story of Trouble The Dog …
In the winter of 2006, my family was still reeling from a number of losses, experiencing three deaths from cancer within a fairly short period of time. Our family dynamic had forever changed.
My niece, Kendra, was twelve at the time and had lost her dad, her Nonnie, and her very best friend, a Golden Retriever named Irish. These losses were overwhelming for a sensitive child her age and we were doing our best to comfort her. Looking back, I don't think we were of much help to Kendra. We simply didn't have the tools to initiate a conversation that didn't end fairly quickly with her saying, "I'm good."
We encouraged Kendra to talk about her feelings and would remind her how her Nonnie would help her pick herself up and dust herself off and how much she was loved. Nonnie taught Kendra about resilience from a very young age. Soon, Kendra was able to turn her grief into something quite miraculous.
One evening while doodling at my coffee table, Kendra turned to see that the St. Jude Telethon had just come on the TV. I tried to change the channel but wasn't quick enough. She looked up and said, "I have to help those kids with cancer." She then instantly drew a little grey stray dog. She named him Trouble. It was a divinely inspired moment I will never forget.
Kendra wrote a comic strip about this abandoned dog. He found a home with a kind Nonnie who ultimately sold her restaurant to spend more time with Trouble and his posse of pups. This story mirrored Kendra's own family experience in such an amazing, positive way.
Quite naturally, together Kendra and I came up with slogans for this new Trouble character: "Where There's Trouble, There's Hope"; "When Trouble Comes, You're Never Alone"; and "Trouble Says … Be Tough."
Trouble the Dog became a bridge for Kendra and I to talk freely about her feelings. Trouble allowed her to open up by writing stories about his adventures, with each one containing an element of love, comfort, and hope.
Since that time, Trouble the Dog has gone on to become a plush American-made comfort toy. He has traveled all over the world consoling children, soldiers, and others going through tough times … be their "troubles" big or small. He one day will be a cartoon character teaching children about the bumps in the road of life gently and with humor.
Trouble has an energy about him that children tell me they can feel. Why? I believe because Trouble was created by an innocent child who had experienced profound loss and deep in her soul wanted to help other children feel love, comfort, and hope. And they do.
The first responders we have met are thankful to have Trouble The Dog on hand to give to a child in crisis. Trouble allows the child to not only feel comforted and safe but also is something of their very own to hold, to confide in and to keep. Children see Trouble The Dog as a symbol of hope.
First responders tell us they have so many ways in which Trouble can be utilized and ask that we keep them coming. We are going to do our very best to make that happen.
The Kennek Foundation's Mission (www.thekennekfoundation.org) is to bring about hope, resilience and inspiration in the lives of those most vulnerable going through tough times. Unfortunately, due to the opioid crisis, there are more children than ever before going through unimaginable circumstances and so we are expanding our reach.
The Kennek Foundation is particularly grateful to Speedway Children's Charities www.speedwaycharities.org/newhampshire for their partnership in allowing us to bring Trouble Dogs and books of Hope to first responders in New Hampshire. Because of their generosity, Trouble The Dog is now travelling in cruisers with the Loudon Police, NH State Police, Concord Police and in the Loudon Fire Department trucks with more deliveries to come.