Maggie, August 2017

Weeks 9 – 12 with Miss Maggie!

Since August was Blonde Boy’s last month with me, most of my focus was on getting him ready to go back into the kennels.  I knew Maggie’s time was coming.  That doesn’t mean I stopped taking pictures though!  Enjoy Maggie’s “August in Pictures!”

To lower the fat content, I stuff Kongs with a mixture of peanut butter and low fat yogurt.  Maggie got to clean the yogurt container when it was empty.




A trip to Lowe’s with Momma to pick out some stones.  Maggie couldn’t decide which were the right ones.



Our August class was held at Publix in Nocatee.  In the 3rd photo, that’s Maggie at the very end.  One of my favorite things to do in class is switch puppies!  You pray “your” puppy doesn’t act up, but it’s loads of fun to work with a different pup.  (At least I find it fun.)

Grocery stores offer many training opportunities.  Often pups can be spooked by a card with a wiggly wheel, the compressors in the meat or veggie sections of the store, or closing doors in the freezer section.  We always walk down the frozen food aisle to open and close (slam) the doors to help desensitize the pups.  Maggie had a difficult time with the first couple of door closings, but I let her sniff the door then inside the freezer, allowed it to close slowly and after a couple of times she was fine with it.

She was one tired puppy after an hours class having to behave!




She loves to snuggle on Momma’s lap, though sometimes she has to share my lap with Dakotah.




Cooling the belly and riding in the truck!




She loved her big buddy Blonde Boy!



Obligatory pack photo!




As she gets older, she’s more tolerant of Brat Cat!




PLAY DATE at Camp K9!!!

Play dates at Camp K9s are so fun for the pups!  They’re grouped together by age with no more than 5 pups at a time.  I took the “big” camera to get some good shots.  Play dates are also important from a training perspective.  If the pups are running and playing and you call them back to you, that’s practicing your recall.  So very important as one day you may be recalling them from something that could harm them.  We also watch to see that the pup isn’t territorial about toys, will give up toys to humans, isn’t aggressive in play, etc.  So much goes into making sure these pups have the temperament to be service dogs.





Such a pretty girl.  Happy after playing with her buddies!





Until next time, be safe.
This blog covers July 31 – August 27, 2017






K9s for Warriors does so many things right, it’s amazing.  Most everyone sees the numbers and the graduations.  Things like this:



I want to talk about the matching of dogs to veterans that they do every month for every class.  Consider this (This is an EXAMPLE!):  The head of Dog Training tells you that these 15 dogs are ready to be matched with a Warrior.  There are 12 Warriors coming for the next class.  The Warrior Trainers then review the Warrior information and learn about the dogs available.  They spend the first day the Warriors are on campus getting to know them.  Then out of the 15 dogs available, they choose the dog that they feel is the best match for that Warrior.  Stop and think about that for a moment.  There’s not a lot of information to go on, and they don’t have a lot of dogs to choose from.  To think that their match success rate is over 95% boggles the mind – at least it boggles mine!!!  That’s is such a tribute to everything these hard working women and men do behind the scenes at K9s.

Here’s what is even more amazing, at least to me it is.  What about the 5% that isn’t a success.  I know; we don’t talk about that.  We celebrate the 95%.  After all, that’s an incredible success.  Let me tell you, that 5% is also a success. Why?  Because the folks at K9s For Warriors Do Not Give Up!  K9s is all about 2nd chances – for rescue dogs and for our veterans.  And sometimes, it’s a 3rd chance.  They don’t give up on the dog or on the veteran.  They Do Not Give Up!  They say, “Let’s find the right dog, the right veteran.”  The 3rd chance.

This was the scenario with Bella and Missy.  To bring it down to one sentence, Bella was not the right service dog for Missy.  Oh don’t get me wrong; Missy LOVES Bella and coming to the decision that she was not the right service dog for her was extremely difficult.  One of the most selfless things Missy told me concerning this was that Bella will be an amazing service dog with the right Warrior.  She is grateful that K9s didn’t give up on Bella because she has a huge heart and will really help someone.

So in late September, Bella returned to K9s For Warriors.  She had 8 months of raising with me, 7 months of working with Missy, so it was just a matter of a refresher in the kennels before she was matched with her new Warrior.




Oh, and remember what I said – they Do Not Give Up!  Missy was back last month and was paired with her new service dog, Miss Ringo Starr.



And …  I have a friend in Missy for which I am forever grateful.


Until next time, be safe.
Special Announcement Blog, November 1, 2017


Our Blonde Boy has been matched with this Warrior!!!


All through the 8 months of raising the puppy and then waiting through the time in the kennels, there’s this little voice in the back of my head hoping and praying that the pup makes it through to this point.  These puppies are not robots; they’re not cogs in a wheel; they’re not widgets on a production line.  They’re living, breathing, loving souls that go through phases of being obedient then being resistant, defiant, fearful, maybe even aggressive. All the puppy raisers that volunteer for K9s For Warriors work tirelessly to get these pups through all these phases while still training and socializing them.  Maybe it’s just me or maybe we all go through this … waiting and then the sense of relief and joy when you find out that the pup you raised has found his warrior. The only feeling better than this is watching that pup graduate.

Now, why did I call him “Brooks” and not “Ulysses”?  All of the dogs that go on to be service dogs through K9s For Warriors are sponsored.  This is no small feat, let me tell you.  The K9s for Warriors website says to sponsor a dog, individuals must raise / donate $15,000, and Corporate / Group sponsorship is $20,000.  (It actually costs more than this amount for each service dog.)  A part of the sponsorship is getting to name the service dog.  Our boy was assigned his sponsor after going into the kennels (Phase II of training), and his sponsor chose the name “Brooks.”  (This is why in my last 2 blog posts about him, I only called him Blonde Boy.)  I know what you’re thinking, “That has to be hard for the puppy to learn to answer to a new name.”  Yep; I thought the exact same thing, so I changed how I looked at it.  Ulysses/Brooks was starting a new life, and starting it with a new name.  His Warrior will only know him as Brooks, and that’s ok.  That’s right and good.  Dogs are resilient creatures; they adapt to all situations.  I have no doubt that our boy has adapted to his new name, and as he bonds with his Warrior, “Brooks” will become a wonderful term of endearment.  (Now to get that name embedded into my head!)

Will keep you updated on the classes progress through K9s For Warriors posts on social media.  Graduation is on Thursday, November 16th.  Will be thinking about the Daniel/Brooks team as they train together for the next couple weeks.  It’s tough, but Daniel has an incredible battle buddy by his side.


One year old today!



Here’s the rest of the November class.



Until next time, be safe.
Special Announcement Blog, November 1, 2017

Onward to Phase II

Weeks 32 – 34


January 26, 2017  …  that was just yesterday, wasn’t it? It sure seems like it because taking Blonde Boy back to the kennels to start Phase II of his training came way too quickly!  Unfortunately, Florida was hit with Hurricane Irma in early September.  Because of the storm, I was able to keep him with me an extra week and a half.  After all, K9s had 50 dogs to keep safe during the storm.  They didn’t need another one, and we didn’t want to start his time in the kennels with having to ride out a hurricane!

But before we get to that last day, there are a few more weeks to cover, the last couple weeks of his time with me.



Our class at the end of August was a “dine out and practice ‘Under'” class.  Imagine taking a dog into a restaurant …. all the smells of wonderful food, people they could play with …. telling the dog “Under” and expecting the dog to lay at your feet under the table.  Oy!  That’s tough!  Now add to that other dogs being told “Under” at the same table you’re at.  This is happens in Phase II of the pups training (when they’re back on campus with the professional trainers) and when the Warriors are training with the pups during their 3 weeks at Camp K9.  To help our pups prepare for this, Kathy (our fearless leader) brilliantly setup a class so we could get a head start on this.

Blonde Boy and I attended the 5:30 class.  As the 4:30 class was coming out, he got to see his sister, Coal, for the first time in a few months!


Coal graduated with her warrior, John, in October!


Of course, Blonde Boy had to cuddle up with his girlfriend, Mia.


Our Last Event Together

Over Labor Day weekend, Blonde Boy worked the K9s For Warriors booth at a 5K fundraiser in Nocatee.  Hershey (and his raisers) was also “on duty” at the booth.  Lots of people to talk to; lots of friends to make.





Random Photos


Photos from August that I missed.



He helped inspect the damage in my hard following the hurricane.



He had to help show me how deep the hole was that Maggie dug.



With his buddy, Maggie



Back where his first photos were taken last January.




Week 1 and Week 34


Watching the action on stage while Momma worked the photo shoot.

Image may contain: 1 person, on stage, standing and indoor

Saying GoodbyeIMG_1690

The days following Hurricane Irma were hectic and crazy to say the least.  So many people’s homes and businesses had major flood damage, some had trees on their homes and vehicles, so many without power and/or cell service.  I’ll admit, I pushed to get Blonde Boy into the kennels as quickly as possible following the storm.  Why?  Because I wanted him with the professional trainers as quickly as possible.  Kathy let me keep him over the Labor Day weekend because we were scheduled to work an event,  Then we had the storm.  In my mind, he was 2 weeks late getting back to start Phase II.

Leaving this big goober at K9s was easier than leaving Bella, but I think that was because of all the chaos from the damned hurricane and my feeling a sense of urgency.  Did that make it “easy”?  Hell no!  Just easier.  And, I had Maggie at home so “work” was still waiting.  With Bella, I had my two girls for comfort, but no training work to come home to.  Different dogs; different circumstances.

As stated in previous blogs, I am very fortunate that I have friends who work in the kennels, so they would let me know how he was doing.  It was a difficult transition for him.  He is such a beautiful, gentle soul.  Transitioning from living in my home with his kennel in the front room, to basically a college dorm for dogs with all the noise and change of schedule was has hard as a kid going off to college…. except without the logical understanding of what was going on.  All of the wonderful people who work the kennels know which dogs come from the puppy raising program, and they love, love, LOVE on those dogs.  The dogs and K9s for Warriors are so very blessed to have these folks!

My friend Marie sent me pics of the big guy.  Here are some of those!




One of our favorite pics is of our boy running in the yard with his shadow on the fence.






Puppy Blonde Boy and Puppy Mia were in the photo header of the August K9s for Warriors newsletter.  Click here to read the newsletter.   Dog Tales




Until next time, be safe.
This blog covers August 28 – September 13, 2017

Blonde Boy, August 2017

Weeks 28 – 31

Dog Day” at Camp K9 is Monday, October 30th, for the November class.  I know that our Blonde Boy is on the short list to be matched with his warrior, so I need to get his blog post finished.  I realized that falling behind on the posts means that I forget some of the cute stories about the pups as they grow up; hoping that the pictures tell their future warriors the story of puppyhood prior to being matched.

This blog is dedicated to catching up on Blonde Boy.  Yes, there will be pictures of Maggie, because those two were inseparable when they were both home with me.

Click a photo below to see an enlarged version….

Playdate at Camp K9

A couple of months ago, Kathy (our puppy raiser adviser) started scheduling “play dates” in the yards at Camp K9.  Grouping the pups by age, they’re allowed to run and play together.  This isn’t just a fun day out, though.  Kathy will have us recall our dogs then release them to play again.  Why?  Because the recall command is one of the most important commands your pup can learn.  It could save their life should they unexpectedly get loose and run into the street.  By recalling them while at play, the pups learn that coming back to Mom or Dad isn’t a bad thing.  They get a treat, some water and then get to go play with their friends again.  These play dates also allow Kathy to see if there’s any guarding issues, if they share well with others, if they can drink from a small water bowl with other pups (no guarding), etc.  Play is so very important!

Periodically, Kathy is allowed to let the pups play in the pool on campus,  In the hot months of summer, this is a welcomed relief.  Blonde Boy is NOT a fan of swimming, but his exuberance of playing with his buddies overcame this.  He had no problem jumping around on the ramp!

Blonde Boy did have a mis-step and managed to go headfirst into the pool.  The first time it happened, it was funny.  The next 2 times were hilarious!!! He so gracefully stepped off the deck, looked down and dove in!

One of the ladies who works at K9s For Warriors managed to get his graceful plunge on video.  I grabbed each frame and put this sequence together.


You have to watch closely as he goes in pretty quickly!  His epic moment is near the end.


Beyond the Box Fitness (a cross-fit training facility) had their grand opening, and as a part of the festivities, had tables setup from a few vendors.  Blonde Boy represented K9s for Warriors along with Kona and Hercules (oh, and their Momma’s too).   American Ninja Warrior Chris Johnson was there with us as well.  Blonde Boy had a great time getting treats from Marie and trying to be good when all he really wanted to do was play with Kona and Herc.  When he made a friend with the folks there, they were amazed that he was only 9 months old.

I dropped his bandanna, so he carried it to the truck for me.
Posing for the camera!

Kona made a friend with Chris.
You can’t take Ninja warriors anywhere!

Marie dispensing treats.
3 beautiful representatives!



Watercrest Senior Living reached out to K9s for Warriors to see if any dogs could visit with the residents.  Kathy used this request as one of our training classes for August.  The facility had 2 places for us to visit, so we split into two groups – one went to the assisted living group while the other went to the memory care side of the facility.  Blonde Boy was such a gem, only getting a little rambunctious when he saw a little dog one of the residents was holding.


In anticipation of Blonde Boy going back to the kennels for Phase II of training, he had an overnight stay.  I’m so fortunate to have friends working in the kennels who send me pics and let me know that he was OK.  Marie sent me these.  





Blonde Boy, Mia, Kristen and I attended our last Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp game of the season, actually sitting in seats for this game instead of working the K9s table.  Blonde Boy and Mia are such buds.  We hoped to recreate the photo from our first Shrimps game in April, but alas, memory is fleeting. 

Jumbo Shrimp & Sgt Scampi (2)


Went to see THE CALL, produced by The 5 & Dime Theatre.  Josh has loved Blonde Boy since the first day they met.  Here, he got to say good bye to his ‘best friend’.


Random Pics

Blonde Boy’s last trip to Julie’s Cafe for breakfast.  Maged gave him is piece of bacon, a tradition we started with Bella, along with the last photo taken outside the window to the cafe.


Taking care of Momma at the chiropractors.


Had a loaner truck for about a week.  Blonde Boy thought it was BIG!


No Momma!  We weren’t playing in the dirt!


Out and About





From K9s For Warriors

The August Class at Camp K9







Until next time, be safe.
This blog covers July 31-August 27, 2017



July, 2017

Ulysses – Weeks 24 – 27
Maggie – Weeks 4 – 8

Still catching up, so mostly photos!


We had a training class in the historic area of St. Augustine.  Ulysses did really well with all the distractions.  Knowing that his time was short with me, I took the opportunity to take a few photos of him in the square.



The big blonde boy represented K9s well at the Red, White and Brew Run fundraiser held at Your Pie.  Troop (black lab) and Hercules (black mouth cur mix) rounded out the pups that brought their raisers to the event. 


Ulysses, such a handsome boy.  He did great at the class held in Publix.



He also went to his first movie.  Did really, really well!




She’s growing! Long legs (and likes to steal the recliner from me)!


Crazy puppy likes to lay down to eat dinner!  The last pic was after a play date at Camp K9.  She was so hot and tired, she sprawled in the back of my truck to get her water!


Typical Lab ….  on her back to sleep no matter where she’s sleeping.
The last pic ….  that ear!


Maggie got to go with me to get my truck detailed.


Who is that pretty girl, Momma?


Ulysses and Maggie, together

These two are such best buddies!

4th of July.  Maggie refused to wear the hat! LOL


Anatomy of sharing the same bed





The Pack!



The Pack, 3 weeks later!



One day on my way to Camp K9, I was fortunate to see the new van featuring the dogs heading out!


And yes! We do use agility equipment as a part of training the service puppies. It gives them confidence and helps them be unafraid of different surfaces and situations.

K9s FOR WARRIORS … around the web

Mom (Shari Duval), Yaunce and C4 were interviewed on Fox and Friends because Yaunce’s employer, Cincinnati Bell, told him he could not bring his service dog to work. Not only does this violate the ADA, the company KNEW why he took 3 weeks off to go to Florida.  This makes my blood boil!


The July Class!!!






I have to share Amanda’s comment that she posted on the above photo: “Lazer helped me to know that I have a purpose in life and I’m not self harming myself anymore. She always has my six and is protecting me.”








See an in-depth version of Warrior McLean’s story here, and how our incredible partner Merrick Pet Care helps him and other veterans.  …  “Merrick was in one of the second wards I walked through one day. He was a chocolate lab who had been a stray on one of our downtown streets….”


Until next time, be safe.
This blog covers July  3-30, 2017



June 2017, Catching Up

Ulysses  – Weeks 20 – 23
Maggie – Weeks 1 – 4

To Ulysses’ and Maggie’s future warriors – my apologies for falling so far behind in their blogs. Life sometimes throws some serious curves into the roads we travel. Will at least catch up on photos of their puppyhood!



Top 2 photos are during training.
Bottom 2 – my how he has grown into his crate!


Saturday of errands started with an appointment for blood work (photo #2). The phlebotomist was horribly afraid of dogs, but Ulysses is so sweet, she was smitten by the time we left.  After blood work, we stopped at Metro Diner for breakfast. Our waitress made sure to bring Ulysses some water too.  After a couple more stops, we ended up at the Hallmark store to pick up a thank you card for Kathy, our fearless leader of the puppy raising program!


Playdate at K9s!  Ulysses had so much fun playing with the other dogs in the program. Can’t you see the smile on his face?!?!?!!!  He is such a happy boy! And the fuzzy black dog is his sister Coal.


Ulysses wasn’t fazed by the movers in the office, or being at the doctors office, or wandering around Home Depot where we had our puppy class!


Ulysses had a grand time working at the 4th of July 5k run.  The 3 guys pictured below spent a good bit of time with us and were great to talk with.





We had to take a headshot for her ID card. The first 3 photos were the different poses – the one in the middle is my favorite!

The bottom 3 photos are in the back yard at work, taking a break.


A stuffed soccer ball makes a great pillow.
She actually stole those slippers from underneath a co-worker’s desk. They’re about as big as she is.
Little girl riding in the big truck!


She’s a real snuggle-bug, laying on the bed with one of my dogs, Midget.


Crazy puppy. Eats her food laying down and then bites at the A/C in the truck!
Bottom photo – looking out the back window at the geese.


She helped Momma find cold medicine … from the pharmacy and the liquor store!
She sat in front of Early Times Whiskey to thank them for making their documentary, “Reinforcements!”
Bottom photo – not afraid of the noisy key machine at Lowes!


More cute and adorable photos!


Maggie had a wonderful opportunity to look into her future, spending an evening with Warrior Amanda and her service dog, Lazer!  (If you remember, Lazer graduated with Bella in March, 2017.)


Service Dog in Training and Service Dog.


Maggie is a wiggle butt and wouldn’t let Amanda snuggle with her, but she tried!



Ulysses and Maggie!


Some videos that Karen took at our Home Depot training class.



The June Class at K9s for Warriors




Study Seeks to Quantify Effects of Service Dogs for Veterans with PTSD

According to the United States Veterans Administration, 22 veterans commit suicide each day, and at least 40 percent have been diagnosed with PTSD. The rate could be even higher, as many cases of PTSD go undiagnosed….

NIH-funded research project to study effectiveness of K9s for Warriors program

To date, the Veterans Administration (VA) has not funded service dogs for veterans suffering from PTSD, citing insufficient scientific data to support their effectiveness. Led by Dr. Maggie O’Haire of Purdue’s Center for the Human-Animal Bond, the NIH-funded research project will attempt to provide that data….




Until next time, be safe.
This blog covers June 5 – July 2, 2017