300!

For this blog, I’m breaking from my usual format of Current Puppy Updates / K9s for Warriors updates / Around the Web and starting with K9s for Warriors.

When I attended the Ambassador’s class at K9s for Warriors last January, Carrie gave us a short history lesson on K9s.  Among the things she told us was that Shari Duval’s goal (the heart and soul behind K9s) was to pair 12 veterans a year.  K9s just celebrated their 6th anniversary in March, which means they would have graduated 72 warriors.  Instead of 72, the April class included the 300th Warrior/Dog pairing.

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How freaking cool is that?!?!?!?!?!!!!!

The goal has changed (as goals often do) from 12 a year to 12 a month.  There are 10 warriors in the May 2017 class; the biggest class yet.  12 a month is a HUGE goal.  Why? Because it takes time to train these dogs; it’s a process that can’t be rushed.  We are always looking for new puppy raisers and fosters so we can bring more dogs into the program.  What we can’t change is the time it takes.  Knowing that our veterans are out there waiting for their name to be called is hard, but we do the best we can to prepare the dogs we have to be the service dog their warrior needs.

K9s For Warriors graduates 300th service dog team

Organization celebrates partnership with American Legion, founder Shari Duval’s retirement.  “Year after year, in one way or another, you have been there,” said an emotional Duval. “We’ll never forget your graciousness, your generosity, your love and your support.”

 

 

 

Ulysses!

Work, shopping, dining out, learning.  That’s a typical Ulysses week, though sometimes we have a little baseball thrown in.  One thing I like about taking him in public is that it often gives me an opportunity to talk about K9s for Warriors, and I especially like that when he’s being good.  LOL.  He’s a good representative because he’s often good and so danged cute.

Friday night we were ambassadors again at the Jacksonville Shrimp’s game.  Just like last time, the crowd, noise, announcer, slapping, etc. didn’t bother him a bit.  We even had a foul ball land on the tin roof near us.  Sounded like a huge balloon was popped.  Everyone jumped; Ulysses looked around as if to say, “What? What’s the big deal?”

If Abraham Lincoln were talking about raising a service dog puppy…
4 stores and 3 hours ago, we set forth into this city with a mission of shopping and training.  
Saturday morning I decided to push the envelope on patience – both his and mine!  At Academy Sports I needed help finding something.  The young man that assisted us was in a wheelchair, and Ulysses wasn’t too sure of it.  He was nice enough to let Ulysses come up to him, sniff the wheel chair and realize it wasn’t so bad after all.  Store #3 was Pet Supermarket which was our biggest challenge.  All those smells and other dogs suddenly appearing without either of us seeing them – recipe for stress.  We both survived.  He got a new toy, and I got, well, nothing really.  A couple of cans of food for the kids.  In retrospect, our 3 hours on Saturday was a bit too ambitious, but we survived!

 

So many treats that Mom won’t buy me!

 

More Sgt. Scampi at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville!

 

My co-volunteers at the baseball game.  And Sadie (Mia’s sister) was the other pup at the table!

 

A few more Ulysses’ pics from the game

 

Finally, we picked up some cans of Merrick’s Back Country grain free food that benefits K9s for Warriors.  Ulysses posed by the bag.  Durdles proved that Merrick’s is feline approved!  (And yes, I had to put some in her bowl.)

 

 

 

 

National Volunteer Week 2017 – April 23-29

K9s for Warriors has over 1200 voluteers currently working on their behalf, and they made sure to celebrate National Volunteer Week with pictures and such.  To end the week, they spotlighted my friend Kristen, an “all-star” volunteer.  She’s the one who inspired me to do this.  Grab a tissue and watch the video.

“Most people don’t want to do it because they think it’s too hard to let them go, and it is, but to watch them walk out with their Warrior is the best part.  These tears are not from sadness of missing the dogs; it’s from the love that comes when you see them do their job.”

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Bella and Melissa at graduation.

I have to expand on this.  There is so much pride when your pup graduates with his or her warrior, and much of the tears come from that. Bella was never mine, and once she went back into the kennels full time, somehow, my heart knew that.  Something changed on March 8th when I saw the picture of Melissa and Bella.  It was no longer about Bella; it was and is now totally and completely about the team.  There isn’t one without the other.  And at graduation, knowing how freaking hard it had to be on those ladies, my thought was “Bella, just do your job.”  And she did.

I talked with my friends Gail and Gary, whose first K9s dog graduated with Bella, and they expressed something similar when Lazer graduated.  Kristen spoke about it eloquently, and I don’t know that many of us in the puppy raiser program could have said those words without choking up.  You spend months of your life working with a pup, another soul, giving it your heart so that it knows love, all with the hope that pup will help put a life back together.  And it is something you CAN do. Each and every one of those warrior teams I see monthly at K9s is an inspiration to raise and train Ulysses to the best of my ability… because his warrior is already waiting to come to Ponte Vedra.

 

 

 

 

 

My caption:  “No matter which way they point, they always point towards my Warrior.”

 

 

 

Around the Web

40 Under 40: Rory Diamond

“In 2014, we were operating out of the back of a house, had 12 employees and our budget was around $600,000,” Diamond said. “Today, we operate this facility with almost 65 employees, and we raised $7.2 million last year.”

I did email the editor to correct the article.  When I read it, it said, “K9s For Warriors brings about 12 veterans with PTSD to its Ponte Vedra campus for three weeks of training with their new companion. ”  Told them it needed to have “per month” in there!

 

Purdue University is doing a study on how services dogs can help with PTSD, and of course, they’re using K9s for Warriors as their study group!  Go Purdue!  Show them what we already know!

 

SMG, Stevie Nicks give to K9s For Warriors

In honor of Stevie Nicks’ recent concert in Jacksonville, SMG Jacksonville donated items on K9s For Warriors’ wish list in the entertainer’s name.  When the Stevie Nicks 24 Karat Gold Tour performed at Veterans Memorial Arena on March 23, more than 40 veterans and their dogs were in the audience.

“Our night at the arena was a delight and the equipment will have a long-lasting impact on the upkeep of our kennels,” said Brett Simon, president of K9s For Warriors, in a news release. K9s For Warriors provides service dogs to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries suffered during military service after 9/11.  The animals used in the program are carefully evaluated, former rescue/shelter dogs or owner surrenders. To date, 293 veterans have been matched to service dogs.  (From: Nonprofit News)

 

Meaty matters: It’s chili cookoff time in Thousand Oaks

From Ventura County, California!  Nonprofit organizations that will benefit include the Westminster Free Clinic; a literacy program called Conejo Valley Reading is Fundamental; the DreamCatcher Playground, designed for children with special needs; K9s for Warriors; and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

 

 

Coming up in May:

The 18th Annual Riding Into History Motorcycle Concours

Ulysses and I are really looking forward to working this event!

 

Until next week, be safe.

 

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