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, 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
Week 19 started with a Memorial Day 5k to benefit K9s for Warriors. Ulysses and I worked the table, so we were there bright and early at 6:30am. Met some really nice folks, and Ulysses learned more about behaving around other dogs. Mia and Sammy were at the event as well!
Training class was at the Nocatee Publix. We walked through the freezer section and meet section to see if there was any reaction to the compressors. Opened and closed freezer doors. Kathy dropped treats on the floor so we could work “Leave It”. She also dressed in a crazy hat, sunglasses and used a cane to see if the dogs reacted in a negative way … or even paid her any attention at all. Coaxed them all up on the scale since it’s a different type of surface, and none too stable. The pic below is outside at the end of class. One of the Publix employees pushed a bunch of carts by us … that was Ulysses’ reaction.
Our puppy raiser program is growing but not quite fast enough. On June 1st, K9s received 2 black lab puppies, 9 weeks old, and no where to put them. I guess my friend Kristen and I are both a wee bit crazy because we told Kathy that even though we had older pups, we could take them until permanent raisers were found. So, Ulysses has a buddy, and my girls (Diva and Dakotah) get a break from playing with him.
Maggie and Garcia started their journey towards their warriors by participating in WJCT’sBe My Neighbor Dayat their studios downtown. Kristen and I spent over 4 hours talking to kids and parents about K9s for Warriors, dogs, and not waking up sleeping puppies. Maggie slept through most of the event, while Garcia wiggled in Kristen’s arms/lap. (In the pics, Garcia is sporting his patriotic bowtie.)
From the Web….
Shari Duval, founder of K9s for Warriors, along wtih Shirley Webb and Mai Dinh Keisling were the 2017 EVE Award winners. (Click on the photo to read the article.)
Thank you for your service, LaWanna! We appreciate you and your commitment to the red, white, and blue.
McLean Raybon and his service dog Merrick. News interview here:
Justin Redifer just returned home from a three-week training program with his new service dog, Scout. It wasn’t love at first sight, however. “I’m 6’1, almost 200 pounds,” remarked Redifer. “There is no way this dog is going to pick me up. But I was wrong.”
Until next time, be safe.
This blog covers May 29 – June 4, 2017
Gonna try to be brief as I really need to catch up!!!
As is his way, Ulysses did great at the Shrimp’s game. A number of kids came up to him, asking to pet him. He was still while they pet his golden locks. The highlight, though, was having South Paw stop by. Ulysses did great with him too! Didn’t shy away; didn’t seem concerned and definitely not aggressive. And yes, we got some good pictures!
5 & Dime Cabaret
Some dear friends (and best voices in Jacksonville) were performing in a cabaret for
The 5 & Dime, one of our local theatres. Josh’s “best friend” is Ulysses, and Ulysses is my show buddy so you know he had to go with me. (Josh actually came running up saying, “My best friend is here! My best friend is here! Oh, hi Susan.” LOL) Due to some renovations at The 5 & Dime’s theatre, the cabaret was at Bab’s Lab in the Cork District, a location we had not been to before. We arrived early; I got Ulysses out of the truck but did not loop the hands-free leash over my shoulder as I figured we would be inside quickly. So with leash in one hand and treat bag in the other, we walked around the truck to the side-walk to find ourselves charged by a guard dog behind a fence in the space next to Bab’s Lab. Ulysses went berserk, naturally, so now I have a teenage, 55 pound, puppy jumping like a kangaroo while a dog is trying his best to get to us through the fence. I got Ulysses over to where I had something to help me block his view of the other dog, and started settling him down. A gentleman got out of his car and crossed the street, asking if I needed any help. As politely as I could (while my heart rate was at about 180, my brain was racing a mile a minute, and my hands were full), I thanked him but declined his assistance. After I finally calmed Ulysses down, I put the hands-free leash on, filled my hand with treats and readied us to go into the building. It was at that point that I saw that the door to the cabaret wasn’t
there on the sidewalk. Nope. Had to walk down a sidewalk between the fenced yard with the dog and the building to get to the door. Oh boy! The dog/fence was on my left, the heeling side, but I decided to keep Ulysses on my left – between me and the fence, right next to the guard dog. We walked over, the dog started his protection and I kept shoving treats at Ulysses. Without any issue, we made it to the door and inside. My first words – can I have a beer! Interestingly enough, the gentleman who offered assistance sat behind me with his family, and at intermission they complimented me on how I handled the situation. I’m glad I didn’t know I had an audience! (And the cabaret was fantastic as always!)
2nd Annual Military Appreciation Veterans United Craft Brewery
Ulysses and I had a good time at the Brewery, catching up with friends and enjoying some craft beer. (Well, I enjoyed the beer; Ulysses watched.) And the BBQ was fantastic!
About 140,000 of America’s veterans deployed since 9/11 suffer from PTSD. Standard VA treatments have been ineffective, or even made things worse.
Service dogs offer an alternative to traditional treatments as highly trained companions that provide emotional support to veterans suffering from PTSD.
The proposed PAWS Act sets up guidelines to make service dogs an official treatment option for American veterans—an alternative that Congress should support.
Awesome note from one our warriors. “I just want to thank K9s For Warriors for introducing me to my new battle buddy. This experience has been life changing in more than one way. First, my battle buddy, Susie, has already changed my life. I’ve heard a few things recently that I don’t hear very often: “you look relaxed,” “you are smiling,” “you look happy, “you don’t look angry.” These may seem like small things, but they are huge in my life. I’ve also had the privilege of meeting some of the most amazing people I’ve ever known. Your entire staff and all the volunteers bent over backwards to make us feel at home. I’m not sure if one of the intended results was to change my outlook on humanity, but I witnessed first hand that there are a lot of people that truly care. They aren’t in it for anything but to give to people that are in need. Sometimes we go through life and our experiences begin to form negative opinions that actually become “truths” for us. The last three weeks have challenged those false “truths” in my life. Please share with your staff and volunteers that their hard work and commitment has not gone unrecognized. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!”
From First Coast News: One local ninja warrior is testing himself, all to honor his brother, an army veteran who committed suicide. How he hopes “American Ninja Warrior” will help his cause.
Rory Diamond, CEO of K9s For Warriors, is a Facebook junkie like me. (Rory, I say that very lovingly.) For that I’m very grateful as his posts spread the great work that K9s For Warriors is doing … and gives me lots to share with you!
This week, some of our employees participated in “warrior for a day” training. These staff members leashed up to gain insight on what it is like to train with a service dog. We would like to thank all of our wonderful dog and warrior trainers who made this possible. We appreciate your hard work!
Air Carrier Act has changed – check with airline.
Susie was at Flagler Humane Society and was sent to K9s For Warriors and trained to be a service dog for her new dad Walter. Here she is at her graduation. Congratulations Susie!
Until next week, be safe. This blog, week 17, represents May 22nd – 28th, 2017.
Please note that article sources do not indicate my personal political leanings.
If the article is true and supports K9s for Warriors,
I do not care what side of the aisle it was written from!
Before getting into Week 17, a couple of things …. 1) Life has gotten in the way of my blogging, so I’m behind. This blog is for Week 17, May 15-21. The blog takes a good bit of time, and there just doesn’t seem to be time to sit down to compose and gather info. Will forge ahead to catch up!
2) If you were reading my blog last summer, you might remember when Bella and I were privileged to attend a private screening of the new documentary ”Reinforcements.” (Here’s the blog from July, 2016.) I’ve been waiting and watching for a few months for it to be available online, and it finally is. Early Times will donate 22 cents to K9s For Warriors for every viewing (up to 50k, which I have no doubt they’ll meet); it’s well worth 30 minutes of your time to watch one of our warriors escort a young man down to Ponte Vedra to see Camp K9. Beautifully done. (To watch it on their site for the 22 cents to K9s, go to EarlyTimes.com, enter your birth date and view there.)
So, what is Riding Into History?
From their Facebook page:
Riding into History was founded in 2000 for two purposes. First, to celebrate the long and glorious history of the motorcycle, and second, to support a worthwhile cause.
Riding into History™ (RIH) is a world class Vintage Motorcycle Concours d’Elegance. Since its inception, Riding Into History has been held at the World Golf Village near St. Augustine, Florida. It has received widespread coverage and articles have been written about it all over the world. It was also nationally featured on the SpeedChannel.This competition attracts between 300 and 400 antique andvintage motorcycles each year. Collectors from all over America bring their motorcycles to the show, and they are displayed around the lake which forms the centerpiece of the World Golf Village.
There are numerous exhibitors at the Concours, as well as representatives from several motorcycle clubs. RIH is a 501(c)3 organization that has contributed over $400,000 to charities. Our chosen charity for 2017 is K9s for Warriors. RIH has no paid staff, and all duties are performed by volunteers.(Note: K9s for Warriors was also their chosen charity in 2016!)
Ulysses and I were a part of the morning shift, along with Sammy (Gail and Gary) and Molly (Mary Kay). This gave me an opportunity to try to get him to behave around other dogs. With people and kids, he’s great; he loses his mind around other dogs. He just wants to PLAY!!!
As usual, we spent time talking with folks about K9s For Warriors, but what was special to me was getting to catch up with Myrtle Hollingsworth. Myrtle, along with her husband, owned and ran the Harley-Davidson dealership in St. Augustine for more than 60 years. They were the longest single franchise dealer in the world … and they are dear family friends. My one mission at Riding Into History was to find Myrtle, and low and behold, she was sitting caddy-corner across the sidewalk from the K9s for Warriors booth. We had a great time catching up, and she got to meet Ulysses.
So, my motorcycling world (got my first bike almost 45 years ago) and my dog world collided that Saturday, and I joke that my theatre world did a drive by. One of the amazingly talented young people I get to work with in theatre was the model for this year’s RIH poster. In addition to that, her folks are riders and on the RIH board. 6 degrees of separation? If it even takes that many.
One more thing about Riding Into History – In the past three years, they have sponsored six dogs!!! Triumph, Beemer, Rocket, and Duke are with their warriors; Simon, and Judie are training in the kennels awaiting their match. The check from the 2017 RIH event will be presented at the June graduation.
* * * * * *
Going to the baseball games on Friday nights is just another night out for Ulysses. He’s always happiest though when his Aunt Kristen is there with girlfriend, Mia.
Diva & Uylsses tuckered out after playing hard enough to knock cushions off the couch.
Lindy tells dad Stuart that it’s too hot to come out of the tunnel at our class.
Ulysses in his “charriot” where he has his own built-in pillow.
If you missed the Facebook Live stream that Thursday night, you can view it below.
A graduate team I was so proud to watch. Anatole, the pup pictured with his Warrior, John, was raised by my friend Joseph. The first outing I took Bella to was a friends 40th birthday dinner. At the party, Joseph picked Bella up, loved on her and then said, “Tell me more about this.” Of course, I did.
The result of that conversation was Joseph volunteering as a puppy raiser and raising Anatole.
Photos of Bella and Anatole as puppies.
Anatole and Bella
The result of that 8-9 month commitment was seeing Anatole graduate with John. Sure makes the heart smile!
The first pic below is Tony and Radar. (Here’s their Dog Day pic.) When I started my volunteer journey with K9s, there was a fund raiser going on by the volunteers to sponsor a dog. The two ladies that headed this up gave themselves a year … it only took them 3 months to raise the $20,000+ needed. It was a special day for all the volunteers to see Tony and Radar graduate. I hope we can do this again. (Shhh … I’m not volunteering…)
The second pic is the gift the class gave to Shari.
A post from one of the graduates!
“Johnny O here, and it’s my turn to take a crack at the daily post. Great Monday morning started out with a few requests for some famous K9sFW Iced Coffee, sadly we didn’t have any foo foo creamer. The gang gathered up outside to present the Moms with Mother’s Day flowers which made them melt. Big Momma also graced us with her presence this morning and saw us off on our day trip to the Jacksonville Zoo and Garden – we were all excited to face this challenge. So, along with all the exotic loud animals at the zoo, there were about a half dozen school buses full of children that as always were captivated by us and the dogs. Our dogs seemed a little overwhelmed today; however, we did quite well with handling them. The sun beamed down on us and at times the scorching ground seemed like hell on our little warriors’ paws, but we kept them in the shade as much as possible. We had some lunch at the J-ville Zoo food court and topped it off with some pistachio ice cream. We were all pooped from the day and as usual, we had a fantastic dinner, got fat and rocked in our rocking chairs and Blaze rocked one of his songs. Today was a great experience. The great thing I find about our training is the boost in confidence that generates from being in a group. It’s been helpful with lowering my inhibitions and allowing my true self to come out. Drawing strength from each other is what has made this training smoother.”
From the Interweb
As an ambassador for K9s (a volunteer position different from puppy raiser), I have the pleasure of working with Carrie, and let me tell you, she’s a joy to work with. Always positive, encouraging and willing to help. I sign my emails “Your favorite pest” because I feel like I pester her more than necessary. Oh well, she handles that with grace.
Warrior training at the Jacksonville Zoo
Amanda, who was paired with Lazer in March (Bella’s BFF) posted on this photo, “Oh I agree! Lazer improved and saved my life 🐾thank you K9s For Warriors!”
Note: If you’re new to this blog and want to start at the beginning of a pup’s journey, there are links on the right side of the page that will take you to the first blog for that pup. When you finish each block, click “Next” to move on. (Also, sorry the blog is 2 weeks late. BUSY!)
VACATION!!! Time for a few relaxing days in Tennessee over Mother’s Day weekend. And yes, I decided to take Ulysses with me along with my two girls. Here they are before leaving on Wednesday morning.
The trip to TN was uneventful. They all pretty much slept the entire way. Ulysses settled in pretty quickly, though he found those hard floors difficult to negotiate. Our first night there was the only real hurdle. You see, Ulysses has never slept in my room; in fact, the only time he’s in there is if he gets in by accident. So when I set his crate up, I put it in the 2nd bedroom downstairs; not in my room. Lights out. He starts whining; then he barks. Finally he starts howling – full out, nose in the air howling! I try to ignore him, then I go out to take the towel off the front of his crate so he can see. Back to bed. Rinse and repeat, complete with the howling. Now, we had a long 9 hour drive, and I’m beat. I have to get some sleep, so the crate is moved into my room. The 3 canines then had a peaceful night’s sleep.
“This is Mom’s suite.”
They’ve had enough rain in East TN that the rivers were running, so we went out so I could dust off the DSLR. After a few stops for shooting, we stopped at The Y (where River road splits to go to Gatlinburg or to Cades Cove) so I could let Midget swim. I was really hoping that Ulysses would follow her lead and swim, but as soon as his belly got wet, he backed up.
Those hard wood floors! Thought it would be best to trim his paws to give him a fighting chance and also cut off his beard so we didn’t have so many water trails across the floor from the water bowls.
You want to cut off what?
No more beard.
Those big paws!
East Tennessee in the Springtime is typically lush and green. We were not let down this year. That blonde coat against the brilliant green made for some beautiful photos of the boy.
One thing I love about the little town in Tennessee where my folks live (population is just over 400) is their Heritage Center. From late Spring until early Autumn, they have concerts on Friday nights. Admission is $8, but you have to bring your own chairs. You sit in the amphitheater, listening to live blue grass, country or a mix while being able to look out at the mountains surrounding you. The Friday night of vacation, we went to listen to the “Tennessee Stiff Legs;” it was one of the 2 public outings Ulysses had while on vacation.
Ulysses was great on the long drive, both to and from Townsend. He had no problem spending that much time in the truck, even having to share the back with Diva. He adapted to the new location, though he did have to have his crate in my room. (Can’t blame him for that.) No issues when allowed upstairs. Without having to be told, he went to the door we came in to indicate he needed to go out. All in all, it was a great training trip for him, as well as relaxation for his human.
Around the Interweb
Word on the street (internet street that is) is that the documentary Reinforcements will be available for viewing in June. The video below is Joe, who is prominent in Reinforcements, talking about coming home from war along with Merrick’s commitment to K9s for Warriors.
Johnny O, from the May class of warriors, posted the following on Facebook. John played guitar, and by his side is Anatole. If you go back into some of Bella’s blogs, you’ll see puppy Anatole. He came up through the program with her.
Day 16: Johnny O here and it’s my turn to take a crack at the daily post. Great Monday morning started out with a few requests for some famous K9sFW Iced Coffee, sadly we didn’t have any foo foo creamer. The gang gathered up outside to present the Moms with Mother’s Day flowers which made them melt. Big Momma also graced us with her presence this morning and saw us off on our day trip to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, we were all excited to face this challenge. So, along with all the exotic loud animals at the zoo, there were about a half-dozen school buses full of children that as always were captivated by us and the dogs. Our dogs seemed a little overwhelmed today; however, we did quite well with handling them. The sun beamed down on us and at times the scorching ground seemed like hell on our little warrior’s paws, but we kept them in the shade as much as possible. We had some lunch at the J-ville Zoo food court and topped it off with some pistachio ice cream. We were all pooped from the day and as usual, we had a fantastic dinner, got fat and rocked in our rocking chairs and Blaze rocked one of his songs. Today was a great experience. The great thing I find about our training is the boost in confidence that generates from being in a group, it’s been helpful with lowering my inhibitions and allowing my true self to come out. Drawing strength from each other is what has made this training smoother.
The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp’s photographer took this of Kristen and I at the first Friday night home game.
And look! They used a pic of Melissa and Bella for their post on May 9th. Bella, the ultimate Laprador Retriever.
This Facebook post asked readers, “How would you describe Camp K9?”
Fallen veterans were honored Saturday at the annual Boots on the Ground Ride and Poker Run. The purpose of the event is to benefit the K9s For Warriors Foundation, the Florida Fallen Heroes Memorial Fund and the American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund.
All of the proceeds from Riding Into History will benefit the Ponte Vedra, FL-based charity, K9s for Warriors, k9sforwarriors.org. With all the help and support from our partners, exhibitors, volunteers, and spectators, last year we were able to make a $40,000 donation to K9s For Warriors. To date, Riding Into History has raised almost $500,000 for charity.
Until then, be safe. This blog, week 16, represents May 8th – 14th, 2017.
While we did quite a bit during Week 15, Ulysses thinks what happened on
Wednesday deserves to be the title of this weeks blow. Poor Fuzznuts went from Brazilian to Hazel. I joked for a few days that his new nickname was “Tom Brady.” (Let me know if you get my joke.) All joking aside, he went through the neutering surgery like a champ. No reaction to anesthesia; no need for the cone-of-shame. You would have thought he went to Camp K9 to see his friends! Has 3 stitches that I’ll take out after 10 days.
This was a week of theatre for the blonde boy. On Monday, he joined me at my photo shoot of Hallelujah Girls at ABET in Atlantic Beach. This was a tough night for him as I was moving around the theatre while he needed to just chill in the center aisle. Bad Momma forgot to bring a chew toy to keep him occupied; now I need to sew up his leash.
Then on Friday, we were back at The 5 and Dime to see their production of A New Brain.
As he has done in the past, he was gentle with the friends he made in the lobby, and during the show, he just slept at my feet. The music in this show was fabulous, with a lot of loud belters. As far as Ulysses was concerned, they were all singing beautiful lullabies to him.
Kathy, our adviser at K9s for Warriors, has divided the 40+ puppies into beginning, intermediate and advanced groups, instead of age related groups. This is a good thing as not all dogs are alike in how quickly they mature or learn. But – EEEK! She put Ulysses in the advanced group. We need to step up our training game to keep up with the others, that’s for sure.
Anyway, we had our first class with the new group on Saturday. To help the dogs with confidence and learning to face different situations, Kathy had us working on some agility equipment. Weaving in and out of cones on a loose leash and stepping over tubes lying in our path were not a problem for the blonde boy. However, when asked to jump through the ring, go down a ramp or go through a tunnel, his look said, “You want me to do WHAT?” With coaxing and bribing, he finally made it through those too. Our biggest obstacle still remains how to behave when around other dogs. He just loses his freaking mind!!!
Ulysses finished his 15th week with restaurant lunches, sitting outside both times to enjoy what is probably our last weekend of cool-ish temps. Hooters on Saturday and Clark’s Fish Camp on Sunday. While at Hooters, we took time to walk on the docks, continuing to train in different situations. He had no problem whatsoever walking on a dock. (If you’re thinking this isn’t a big deal, it actually is. Diva, my 10 year old Spaniel mix, almost army-crawls when on a dock. She can’t stand it and isn’t going to change her mind!)
Anatomy of a bath, complete with the side-eye look at the end.
Along with going to ABET to shoot The Hallelujah Girls, we got a peak at the program for the show’s run. A huge THANK YOU once again to ABET for including a full page “ad” for K9s for Warriors, helping us spread the word about this wonderful organization.
Another huge THANK YOU toB3 Dog Servicesfor their monthly donation to K9s For Warriors! They donate $1 for every dog walk they do during the month; that’s a LOT of walking. If you’re looking for a dog service in Jacksonville, give B3 a call!
Thank You NOSA!!!!
I received an email from a theatre friend telling me that NOSA (Naval Officers’ Spouses’ Association) made a $500 donation to K9s for Warriors, “based largely on your blogs!” I’m humbled and sincerely thankful!
AROUND THE WEB
The May class in on campus, paired with their dogs and working towards their new life. 10 warriors in the class. Here are 7 of them with their dogs!
Posted on K9s Facebook page….
We still need Puppy Raisers!!!
Congratulations to Shari Duval who is a finalist for the 2017 Eve Award! BRAVO!
Brett and Reagan’s Story
Every now and then I head over to K9s YouTube channel to watch the warriors’ stories. This one is Brett’s, whose mom started K9s.
I discussed my situation with a fellow veteran who suggested I apply to the K9s For Warriors organization. I applied to the program and was immediately supported by the President of the organization, Shari Duval. I shared my anxiety about the process and she lovingly calmed my fears by helping me understand how the dog will help me. But ultimately she asked me to trust that she would take good care of me and all the other veterans who came through the program.
The goal of our research at the OHAIRE lab is to empirically evaluate the effects of service dogs on the mental health and wellness of military members diagnosed with PTSD and their families. In particular, we are interested in determining if military members with PTSD who have been placed with a service dog will show changes in PTSD symptom severity, physiological arousal, and social competency compared to those receiving usual treatment services while on the waitlist to receive a PTSD service dog.
We are also interested in the spouse’s perspective from the service dog placement. Do spouses of military veterans experience any effects from the service dog being inside the home? To answer this question, we are also measuring spousal stress, caregiver burden, relationship satisfaction, and overall family functioning from the spouse’s point of view. Future research will plan to incorporate children and other family members.
Our research is conducted in collaboration withK9s for Warriors, an Assistance Dogs International (ADI) accredited organization providing service dogs for veterans with PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI), military sexual trauma (MST), and mobility issues.
“Service dogs can provide support, peace, and joy to these Americans as they confront the invisible scars of war,” Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., said in reintroducing Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers, or PAWS Act.
Note: If you Google this, don’t mix it up with the “Pet and Women Safety” Act. While this is something we also need, it’s not what K9s for Warriors is working with and towards. Shame they’re both using the same acronym.
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.
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.
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.”
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!
Waiting at Tijuana Flatts
Not happy being left in my office while I ran out.
Changed the configuration of the back seats in the truck. He now has a pillow.
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.”
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.”
“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)
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.