Dogs to Follow on Facebook

Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.

~Agnes Sligh Turnbull

I follow several dogs on Facebook. Some are devoted to social causes, all are ambassadors for  goodwill and kindness. They give me something to smile about on days I might rather be under the covers.

I follow pages that interact with people on their timelines and encourage and inspire their communities. They have followings large and small and deserve every “like” they have. Here are the first five of ten I will list in two posts:

1. Ray Charles the Golden Retriever:

ray charles

Ray Charles is a two-year old golden retriever that was
born blind. According to Ray, who speaks through his page, he believes he was born blind  so that he could help inspire others who are born with physical/mental disabilities to always live their lives to the fullest and do as much as they can with what they are given.

Follow Ray   

2. SSD Honza: SD Honza is a yellow lab who served seven years with the United States Army. While on active duty SSD Honza deployed to Afghanistan and saved countless lives locating over 400lbs of explosives during his year long deployment. SSD Honza has conducted security sweeps for the President and Vice-President, Dignitaries and countless others. He is now retired and living with his handler in Pennsylvania.

honza dog“SSD Honza helped keep our troops alive in Afghanistan, but he has also been an ambassador of goodwill towards the sick and injured. In this picture he was in the middle of training for a deployment to Afghanistan, SSD Honza when took some time from his day to allow a little boy with cancer to fulfill his dream of becoming a Soldier. Wes Pak was made an Honorary K9 handler, and helped SGT. Nolan and SSD Honza complete the obedience course!”

I know and appreciate both John and Honza. Their story is featured in the eook In Dogs We Trust via a story by war dog author and advocate Kevin Hanrahan.

SSD Honza 

3. Surf Dog Richochet: Is an “internationally renowned, award winning, 6 year old golden retriever therapy and surf dog who has become an inspirational phenomenon, philanthropic role model, internet sensation, fundraising marvel, community advocate, goodwill ambassador, and muse to millions!”

surf dogRicochet has been in movies, on TV, on billboards, in Times Square, in commercials, and in hundreds of media sources including the Oprah Winfrey Network, People Magazine, Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Evening News With Diane Sawyer, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC and many more….

Surf Dog raises funds & awareness for human/animal causes like wounded warrior service dogs. To date Ricohet has raised $300,000 and a million bowls of food for needy animals.

Surf Dog Ricochet

 

4. Charlie Boy:

“Charlie Boy was trained by The Seeing Eye to guide U.S. Army Sergeant Major Acosta who was blinded after shrapnel ripped through his head in Iraq charlie boyin 2006. When Charlie Boy started guiding the sergeant major in 2007, his master began to share his own freedom by soothing wounded service members with PTSD & serving as an example of overcoming their injuries. Charlie Boy escorts the Sergeant Major throughout the U.S.to help him raise funds for injured warriors. In addition, to guiding the Sgt. Major through airports, he also visits incarcerated prisoners throughout Southern California. This 125-pound German Shepherd allows his master to travel to and participate in bike rides & even golf tournaments as well as events where his veteran is a motivational speaker & an advocate for wounded warriors.”

Follow Charlie Boy

5. Service Dog in Training Ice:

I know Ice personally and LOVE this goofy pup.

Ice Service Dog“Ice is a golden retriever puppy in training for My Angel With Paws, a service dog organization that trains dogs for people with disabilities. He will spend up to the first 2 years of his life with me, his puppy raiser. Then he will return the main facility for final training and placement with his forever person. It is unknown as of now what type of service dog he will be but he could possibly help someone in a wheelchair, someone who needs a brace dog, someone who has seizures, the list goes on and on. It all depends how big he gets and what skills he can do.”

You will love this page as much as I do. Sarah his trainer is a gifted photographer.

Follow Ice

 

And while I won’t list Gander in the top ten, I do hope you will follow him of you don’t already:

GanderGander was rescued from a shelter in Pueblo, Colorado where I was born. He was trained in a women’s prison at Canon City, Colorado and later selected for training by Freedom Service Dogs and paroled to me in Chicago after we trained three weeks together. We now travel the country and advocate for veteran suicide prevention, and PTSD and service dog awareness.

Gander is featured in the book In Dogs We Trust and this blog chronicles his adventures. As of the writing, Gander has 215,000 friends on Facebook.

Follow Gander

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The Battle Begins: SEAL Frog vs Army Dog

Frog Dog Beard OffAn epic inter-service, inter-species battle to raise awareness about veteran suicide, service dogs and PTSD. http://dogingtonpost.com/beardoff
Gander, a 3 1/2 year old Labradoodle is a battle buddy for an Army veteran in Chicago. Gander, with an online community of over 300,000 friends distinguished himself as a real hero when he saved a young girl last year from a charging stray and now does triple duty as a therapy dog, service dog and PTSD/suicide awareness advocate. he visits VA hospitals, nursing homes and hospices around the country. Rescued from death row in Colorado, Gander was trained by a prison program and then paroled to Freedom Service Dogs in Denver and trained for service as a mobility and PTSD dog. Gander is listed as co-curator for, In Dogs We Trust, a collection of inspirational dog stories by NYT bestselling authors. Learn more about Gander in this short PBS Video here: http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2014/02/26/ptsd-service-dog
Rob DuBois is a speaker, teacher, coach and consultant who was labeled a “smart power authority” while assisting U.S., British and Iraqi forces in Baghdad. He is a multilingual Navy SEAL with operational experience in more than thirty countries. Rob is author of the book, Powerful Peace. Rob has presented his “Think like the Adversary” workshop to military units in the hottest combat zones, Fortune 500 corporate customers, and government agencies. He has served on the Deputy Secretary of Defense’s Senior Integration Group and directed operations for the DoD’s Red Team. Founder and CEO of SEAL of Peace Consulting, he lives with his family in the Washington, DC area and works anywhere on the planet.
The contest, co-sponsored by Dogington Post will run from March 1 to March 20th online. You can vote for the Navy Frog or the Army Dog at http://dogingtonpost.com/beardoff  and add pictures of your own bearded companion, “bearding” photos or best human/dog pair shot. Prizes will be handed out daily and grand prize winners announced on March 20th in Denver at the Watering Bowl, a dog friendly pub. The loser of the contest will have all hair, except his trademark beard, shorn off. The public can participate by uploading their own beard, bearded pair shots or “bearding” photos here: http://dogingtonpost.com/beardoff
The event will coincide with a book signing for In Dogs We Trust with five of the book’s author’s on hand and several invited celebrities. All proceeds from the event will benefit dog and veteran charities.
Follow the events on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ganderservicedog or here on veterantraveler.com
Follow Rob at https://www.facebook.com/SEALofPeace
And remember to upload your pics and vote for your favorite beard!

ALL proceeds from the sale of items during the event (to be posted later) will go to one of four wounded warrior charities.

Register now for the event:

Book Launch/Beard Off

Posted in Chicago, Denver, PTSD, Service Dogs | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Great Frog-Dog Beard Off

 
Frog dog beard offAn Epic inter-service, inter-species battle to raise awareness about veteran suicide, service dogs and PTSD.

Gander, a 3 1/2 year old Labradoodle is a battle buddy for an Army veteran in Chicago. Gander, with an online community of over 300,000 friends distinguished himself as a real hero when he saved a young girl last year from a charging stray and now does triple duty as a therapy dog, service dog and PTSD/suicide awareness advocate. he visits VA hospitals, nursing homes and hospices around the country. Rescued from death row in Colorado, Gander was trained by a prison program and then paroled to Freedom Service Dogs in Denver and trained for service as a mobility and PTSD dog. Gander is listed as co-curator for, In Dogs We Trust, a collection of inspirational dog stories by NYT bestselling authors.

Seal Doggy Dog

Rob DuBois is a speaker, teacher, coach and consultant who was labeled a “smart power authority” while assisting U.S., British and Iraqi forces in Baghdad. He is a multilingual Navy SEAL with operational experience in more than thirty countries. Rob is author of the book, Powerful Peace.

Rob has presented his “Think like the Adversary” workshop to military units in the hottest combat zones, Fortune 500 corporate customers, and government agencies. He has served on the Deputy Secretary of Defense’s Senior Integration Group and directed operations for the DoD’s Red Team. Founder and CEO of SEAL of Peace Consulting, he lives with his family in the Washington, DC area and works anywhere on the planet.

The contest will run from March 1 to March 20th online. You can vote for the Navy Frog or the Army Dog at http://dogingtonpost.com/beardoff and add pictures of your own bearded companion, “bearding” photos or best human/dog pair shot. Prizes will be handed out daily and grand prize winners announced on March 20th in Denver at the Watering Bowl, a dog friendly pub. The loser of the contest will have all hair, except his trademark beard, shorn off.

The event will coincide with a book signing for In Dogs We Trust with five of the book’s author’s on hand and several invited celebrities. All proceeds from the event will benefit dog and veteran charities. Celebrity Emcee for the event will be Mark German of Leader of the Pack Radio 

Follow the events on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ganderservicedog or here

Follow Rob athttps://www.facebook.com/SEALofPeace

gander dog

 

Let the games begin!!

 

And remember to upload your pics and vote for your favorite beard at http://dogingtonpost.com/beardoff

 

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Ten Things to Know About My Service Dog

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

–Antoine de Saint-Exupery

(Kea Grace did a wonderful article not long ago about the ten things handlers want you to know about their service dogs. Here is my personal ten. Here is Kea’s article: http://www.anythingpawsable.com/10-things-service-dog-handlers-want-know/)

1.) Gander is Always Working..

 Gander, my service dog has the most inviting demeanor and lovable face of any animal I have ever owned.  That and our seeming gregariousness in public make it hard not to engage him. And because he has a number of trusted friends that are allowed to interact with him it might appear we are not working. Gander is always on duty. Those that know us understand that Gander will drop everything, even his beloved tennis balls, to attend to my needs. People often whistle, click their fingers, bark, pet, call him to them or try to feed him treats. Please ask permission to interact with him and try not to reinforce him for being off task. He rarely loses focus, but in the event he does, please ignore him and let me engage him again. Please don’t ask him to “Sit”, “Shake Hands” or do tricks. He is a professional and he speaks a professional language. Most of the time he will not respond to your requests. Don’t feel ignored. He is on the job and his loyalty is to me.GANDER Dog

2.) Gander saved my life and continues to rescue me
I love this dog as much as anyone or anything in my life. He allows me to function in situations that are otherwise difficult. I respect his skills, his loyalty and know every nuance of his special and complex personality. He is my friend, my family and my connection to all that is good. Please recognize him, not as a dog, but as a essential part of my life and well-being.

3.) I am open about my conditions…

I am happy to discuss PTSD and other issues, but  not every wants to disclose why they have dog. For the first few months I had Gander I simply said: “He is a medical service dog.” After we started his page and began to advocate for suicide prevention and trauma survival I became more forthcoming. There are many invisible conditions that many people are reluctant to share. Please don’t ask: “Why do you need him?” As I have said before, the most common answer for me when people say I do not look like I need a service dog is: “It is because I have a service dog.”

4.) I may seem short on occasion if you ask questions

It is because I am asked the same questions 10-80 times a day: His age, his breed, his agency, his function. I am happy most days to share. I love to chat.  But, you may well be the 50th person that day who has queried me. And I may be trying to get a package mailed, a blog post written or help someone who in crisis. Please give me and my good intentions the benefit of the doubt. And know that many handlers, especially those with psychiatric issues, may not want to connect at all. We are all in varying stages of recovery,  and our dogs are part of our treatment plan.

5.) Yes, He is a Labradoodle and he is a real service dog

Gander was trained by Freedom Service Dogs in Denver. They use rescues: Poodles, Labs, Mutts of all kinds as do many services now. As Kea said in her article, many “fake” service dogs have created a hostile environment for us with non-standard pups. The barking, snarling purse dogs that people but vests for have made us suspect. Watch the behavior of the dog. If he is disruptive, you may ask them to leave your space and not be in violation of ADA regulations.

6.)  Gander is spoiled beyond belief….

Recently, there was a fire alarm in the complex where we live. The noise was deafening to me, so I cannot imagine how terrifying it was to Gander. I rushed him outside and held him until he stopped shaking. My wife was a little jealous ;-) …. he is well fed, massaged daily, and I put protective waxes and creams on his feet depending on the weather. I would stand in front of a speeding train to protect this dog. I think most handlers feel the same. We are grateful and protective.  I spend 24/7 with Gander, and we have a special correspondence system that alerts both of us to needs. I know when he is tired, hungry, thirsty, afraid or bored. I attend to his needs the way any good father or mother would care for his child.

7.) Gander is, by law, Medical Equipment
To paraphrase Kea here: “My Service Dog is medical equipment, just like a wheelchair, crutches or an oxygen tank. She is medically necessary and anywhere in public medical equipment is allowed, so is my Service Dog. Additionally, please treat her like medical equipment. You wouldn’t walk up to someone you didn’t know and just randomly start pushing their wheelchair” nor would you chat up a peron’s cane, so please don’t touch, talk to, pet or otherwise engage with my partner without consent.

8.) Gander Is Protected Under Law

Gander goes where I go. He has the same rights as I do. It is my responsibility to see that he does not infringe on anyone else’s rights. I understand some folks are afraid of dogs and that some religions do not hold them in high regard. I will do my best to respect those boundaries, but I will expect the law to be followed. Gander and I work hard to remain calm and educate those who do not know or understand the federal rules of access. We are all in this together.
9.) Gander has no “Papers”…

Gander was trained by an Assistance Dogs International certified trainer and passed a required access test that is pretty comprehensive. He performs about 50 difficult behaviors that are needed for the exam. He can back up in a crowded space, load and unload properly from a car, avoid any food or strange objects on the floor, sit and stay without me in sight for several minutes, position himself under tables in a restaurant and many other tasks directly related to my needs. IF a dog has papers or certifications (there is really no such thing for service dogs), they have no legal weight. In Illinois, business owners may ask only two questions: “Is that a service dog?” and “What two tasks does he perform for you?” There is a movement afoot to develop enforceable standards but as yet as long as the dog is not disruptive and the handler can answer those two questions you must allow access.
.

10.) “I would love to go everywhere with MY dog.”
I heard this at a local sandwich shop recently from an owner. And people often tell me they envy me. I would happily trade my night terrors and social struggles for a chance to retire Gander and give his vest to someone who needs it more. And please keeping mind that the extra work required to take him everywhere is akin to that of a mother or father with an infant child. It takes great preparation and constant vigilance. We are never apart.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in PTSD, Service Dogs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

VA funding of service dogs: a second look…

“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Several blogs and Facebook pages cheered this week when then VA announced it would fund the costs of service dogs for veterans.  freedom-service-dogs-pkg-tr.jpg?w=1500Ostensibly, this was something to rave about. In reality,    there was little to celebrate and the impact on veterans most in need of canine assistance will not be impacted at this time.

The VA decided two years ago, decided to pay ay for costs only associated with a service dog, but only in cases of physical disability.  That means that dogs needed for mobility, hearing, sight would be covered.  Psychiatric issues, like PTSD, were not to be covered.because the VA felt there was not enough evidence to show that the dogs were efficacious.  Despite the wealth of information available to show that service dogs save lives and improve quality of life the VA started an  administratively bloated study to determine if dogs could make a difference in the lives of vets.

The news release this week made it seem like the VA had shifted position. They have not. The only new feature in their policy is that Truepanion insurance company will be paying four the care of dogs “eligible” according to existing regulations.

Currently to get a dog you must have recommendations from your treatment  team, an evaluation by the appropriate clinic (ortho, audiology…) and then go through the prosthetic department who must requisition the dog from Washington, DC.  In addition, the VA also requires you to attend and complete a training course with your dog through Assistance Dogs International or the International Guide Dog Federation.  Once completed, the VA will pay for the costs associated with veterinary care, travel associated with buying and training the dog, along with hardware required for the dog to be able to assist the veteran. Ordinary costs of care (food and such) are not covered.

In my case, I was certified by orthopedics and psychiatry for a dog and then send to prosthetics. They denied my request because I was not service connected for my mobility issues. If I were in need of a wheelchair, crutches, surgery or any other equipment for a non-service connected issue I would be eligible because I am 100% service disabled. But, dogs are excluded equipment. It is like a medication or appliance that is not yet in their inventory due to cost or other reason.

The need for PTSD dogs to help tens of thousands of vets with combat and non-combat related related stress has spawned dozens of new service dog agencies. But, only a handful of them will be eligible for for VA programs for two reasons:

1. The VA will require that the agencies training dogs have Assistance Dog International accredited trainers or other agencies they designate. Most of the new programs do not have these trainers on board. “Veterans who are paired with a PTSD service dog often rave about how it improves their condition. Yet, there has been controversy  over the expertise and professionalism of organizations that have emerged to serve the demand…” The VA is the source of controversy and in past studies has levied some very unrealistic expectations on even ADI established agencies. I know firsthand as I was originally to be part of the VA study program started in Tampa, Florida.

2. The service dog must have been provided at no cost to the veteran. If the agency requires the veteran to raise any of the funds needed the dog is not eligible for the program. Cash strapped non-profits doing good work whether ADI certified or not will not benefit from the program.

With the number of vets returned and returning from war zones with PTSD estimated at nearly 30% of those who served it is a problem the VA needs to be addressing sooner than later. The current study by the VA is scheduled to conclude in four years. How many soldier will have taken their own life by that time. The generosity of the private sector and reputable groups like Freedom Service Dogs (who trained Gander) and Patriot Paws will have to rely on the kindness of their donors to further their live saving missions until the VA answers the growing call for alternatives and adjuncts to debilitating drug therapies.

 

 

  

Posted in PTSD, Service Dogs, VA, VA Benefits, Veterans | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Before you get a service dog

gander You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

(This article was written back in April. I revised it so it could be used as part of a teaching manual for Freedom Service Dogs. 

Much more attention needs to be paid to the mindset, environment and special emotional and psychological needs of anyone getting a service dog. we are, after all, in the process of healing. A dog is not a cure-all and cannot replace psychotherapy. It is a valuable adjunct and counselors, social workers and psychologists,especially those working with PTSD and trauma clients, need to be briefed on how best to anticipate issues and to enable solutions to make for the best possible outcomes for both client and service dog.)

So, you think you want a service dog? Think again….

I was reading a story on Facebook about a woman with Lupus. She illustrated for friends how hard life can be when you have to accommodate a debilitating, unseen illness. Her examples especially hit home as I remembered a dear friend from high school who took his own life rather than endure the primitive treatment available at that time. He could not handle a lifetime of shielding himself from the sun and the outdoors he loved so much.  And he did not want to face the judgement of those who couldn’t understand his suffering, much of which was invisible, even to his friends.

The author of the post used dinner spoons as a metaphor. She gave the same number of spoons to each member of a group of friends. They were amused at first when she verbally walked them through a day and took away a spoon to represent the terrible toll taken by every simple task they normally took for granted. She let them make decisions in her stead and then assessed the difficulty of each decision from her own experience until they were all soon out of utensils and forced to decide whether or not to borrow from the next day’s rations.

The analogy, as simple as it was, rang true for me. I have often likened my day to the nearly worthless battery on my iPhone: I have to ration my energy over a variety of tasks:  a movie requires me to choose a time and place with few people, easy entry and exit and now, a place for Gander, my service dog, to rest comfortably where people won’t stumble over him. A restaurant has to have a booth, an understanding proprietor, and be open at at non-peak hours so I don’t encounter too many people who might not like the idea of a dog in their eatery. I do not invite conflict and don’t feel I have anything to prove or teach when all I really want is a meal.

And there are many new and old preparations in advance: emergency medications ( I used to carry pills in every pocket and keep them in every drawer to avoid the possibility of a panic attack), a water bowl for Gander, snacks, service vest, bathroom breaks and so on. A day in public has been and still is exhausting for me. The first few weeks with Gander were infinitely worse: The added stress took a savage toll on my body and my serenity. And all of this while people assume I am training my service dog because I don’t appear to need one. As silly as it might sound: Having a service dog is like being pregnant. For women it is the first time you publicly show people you engage in sex. For me, it is an admission that something in my life is under repair.

Yesterday, I stopped to eat at a restaurant not far from the hotel where I stay. I sat outside in the car for a few moments and brought the anxiety of venturing into a new place down from a boil to a simmer. I have my usual haunts and stick to them. That night I wanted a change of pace. But Gander is a handsome and lovable mutt who draws attention, and it may come as a shock to some that attention is something I have loathed for years. And he sparks conversations about feelings and elicits memories that are not often shared with strangers in public venues. I brace for the usual questions: “What breed is he? How old is he? How long have you had him? Why do you need him? What does he do? Can I pet him?…” And then I wait, The conversation will end, become deeply personal or we will be rejected and asked to leave because Gander is one of only two service dogs I know of in Lake County, so few people have an understanding of service dogs and certainly not his role in my life–especially since I “look normal”.

The manager, an attractive lady, appeared quickly and immediately wanted to know if Gander was a “blind dog.” I resisted the urge to tell her that while he might have some hearing issues I thought his sight was fine. Then she wanted to see his service dog certification. Keeping with the battery analogy: My system was now flooded with current. I was working hard to keep from marching, like an overwound Christmas toy, into an emotional or wall or to angrily let her know that asking such questions is illegal in Illinois. Gander sensed that all was not well and leaned against me. He provided a way for me to ground and discharge excess energy. I calmly explained state rules about assistance animals and went about my dining business. During that particular meal I was asked several questions by people at distant tables and a young Indian boy racing by shrieked after realizing he’d seen an animal under the table. It was not a relaxing meal.

After dinner, the manager stopped me to invite me the two of us back sometime. And then she owned up to her discomfort: she disclosed severe physical, familial and care related difficulties she was facing in her own life. She has a lot on her plate: late stage cancer, a blind grandmother, a recent divorce and more. She expressed a longing for a pet to be there for her in what must she described as very difficult evenings alone. I give her a couple of suggestions and a card and told her to call me with any questions. I hope she does.

At our frequent visits to the area VA hospital, Gander brings literally dozens of smiles to the faces of people in the halls, and waiting rooms and especially those lost in thought and preoccupied with health concerns. Several vets have asked me how to get a dog because they are alone, lonely or just in need of something to do with the excess of time illness demands for recovery. Others have balance issues, relentless anxiety or problems picking things up…

When veterans say they want a dog, I generally ask them to ask themselves if it is a service dog, a canine buddy, a good friend or a girl/boyfriend that is really needed.

I explain that a dog becomes an extension of self and will immediately be one more thing to take care of to in the course of a difficult day. And I ask them to remember that not everyone in their lives, kind and generous friends they might be, are going to feel the same way about their dog. Other people have trauma associated with their past that has nothing to do and everything to do with you if you bring a symbol of their trauma into their life. And other cultures are not as devoted to their canine companions as we are. Some religions restrict contact with dogs and you are likely to get a less than warm welcome from a Muslim cabbie, the law not withstanding, because adhere to teachings you find superstitious or disrespectful.

Not only will you need to prepare better for your day and yield to new limitations, but now you will have a sentient being that requires you to attend to a multitude of needs: It is a lot like having an infant with you. You are now responsible for a life other than your own. It can help heal or help hinder you depending on your needs and your ability to accommodate these changes. a lot of owners blame the difficulties on bad training, or a poorly performing dog. It is neither. You need to discover when, where and how this new piece of living equipment can best assist you as you honor his or her limitations and respect his or her need for love and care.

Scientists have known for years, what the VA pretends it has never heard about: that the body’s chemistry is dramatically and positively changed by just by stroking the fur of a animal. It effects the release of important hormones like serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin and the results are lower blood pressure, decreased levels of the primary stress hormone cortisol which is the adrenal chemical responsible for regulating appetite and cravings for carbohydrates. And if you are spiritually inclined you might believe that the compassion and unconditional love of a pet is a direct link to the divine.

I think that Gander and I were fated to meet. I think he was a Tibetan Lama in a past life who decided to hang around this world wagging, kissing and loving me into a better understanding of compassion and unconditional love. A dog in your life is a blessing you can cherish forever if you have reasonable expectations and a commitment to loving and caring for a new member of your family.

One of the tasks Gander was taught to perform was to flank me on the side open to height to give me some distance and comfort. What happened was he became so tuned to my emotional state that he began to avoid heights himself. My wife says I have given my dog PTSD. I did make him more cautious of open spaces. Is he failing me? Should I be angry or disappointed? No. I now walk down the center of bridges so we both feel more comfortable. I don’t take elevators with glass floors. The scope of his aid to me goes far beyond  these simple things. we will work on them together as a team. My guess? As I heal and become less anxious, so will he. He will be a living barometer of my progress. We have important things to do. And I am not about to stress my best friend needlessly as we romp though these rough trails together.

Spend some time visiting with others that have dogs. Volunteer at an organization like Freedom Service Dogs, read as much as you can, speak to the proprietors at places you frequent, talk to your treatment team, review your finances–this will be expensive especially if there are medical needs later! Treat this like you might an adoption of a child from a foreign country. It is an enormous undertaking that is done thoughtfully and honestly will teach you more about yourself, your disability than you can possibly imagine. It will positively inform your future relationships and make you a better friend, a better employee and a better person.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 34 Comments

Fake Service Dogs

The Real Trouble with Fake Service Dogs

The following guest post was written for The Dogington Post  

To fake it is to stand guard over emptiness.
–Arthur Herzog

There is a barely a day goes by that I do not see a tweet, news article or Facebook update about someone being denied entrance into a restaurant or shop because they are accompanied by a service dog. Many of the incidents have involved combat veterans and their PTSD Battle Buddies and other individuals with “invisible” disabilities.

Some businesses have suffered catastrophic losses and had their ignorance of disability regulations broadcast nationwide. Some of the public shaming has been wholly earned, while some businesses simply have never been educated and paid a heavy price for their on the job training. With the growing number of service dogs being employed and the explosion of new service dog agencies, the problem looks to get much worse before it gets better. So, why is it happening and what needs to be done?

A lack of standards for certifying a service dog, the growing number of online agencies that will sell anyone a vest and intimidating looking documents that imply the dog who carries them is legitimate, and a lack of proper training for service personnel, law enforcement and hospitality staffs are primarily to blame.

Libertyville, Illinois, the town adjacent to where I live, just passed an ordnance requiring Service Dog ID cards for “real service dogs.”  Therein lies the rub: There are no legitimate documents that can certify that any canine is authentic. While there are standards for trainers, there are no universally accepted standards for what constitutes an acceptable service dog. And the law itself, while sympathetic to local businesses who don’t want animals in their businesses for fear of losing customers, flies in the face of ADA requirements and standards.

The Veterans Administration, ironically exempt from Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) legislation is investigating requiring all dogs to be trained by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) certified trainers. That has caused uproar among established non-ADI trainers who opt out of ADI control over their methods. In the interim, the VA where I receive treatment is seeing a huge increase in the number of dogs and many of them inadequately trained and even dangerous.

A few weeks ago Gander, my service dog who was trained by an ADI certified trainer, was attacked by an aggressive dog who clearly had no business being in public: The dog barked, failed to heel, and attended little, if at all, to his human. They come in all shapes and sized: Earlier in the day I spoke to a veteran who openly, and almost proudly, admitted that he had bought his Chihuahua’s vest and laminated credentials online and that he proudly told people that his dog was a seizure alert companion. More recently, I watched a Great Dane with a service dog scarf wander from table to table in a local restaurant in search of scrap handouts while the owner laughed and encouraged horrified patrons to ignore him. Though service dog misrepresentation is a crime in many states, few businesses know enough about them to risk media humiliation by sending away a troublesome dog.

And agencies are not anxious to “certify” service dogs. It creates a measure of liability in out litigious society that suit happy plaintiffs and many lawyers would love to see. It could well imply the dog is somehow safe to be in public. While gander has never acted out, he is after all a dog and could possibly be goaded into a conflict an aggressive poser. And what if an innocent bystander was scratched or bitten in the process?

So, greeted with skepticism and questions, those of us with bona fide needs endure unnecessary hostility creates stress that is counterproductive and defeats the purpose for getting a PTSD service dog in the first place. I am worn out by franchises and chain stores rushing to the door to keep me from bringing in my “pet”. Starbucks, Subway and McDonald’s have led the way in abusive confrontations. But, I generally take a moment to explain and if there is still conflict I generally exit and write to corporate. I am saddened that confrontation has become routine for me.

“Fake is as old as the Eden Tree,” said Orson Welles. He is right.  I returned recently from eight years in China where nothing can be trusted to be as it appears. And the benefits for manufacturers to sell bogus products is not different than the motivation for a pet owner scamming their way into a hotel or onto an airplane with Fluffy or Spike to avoid the extra fees associated with bringing a furry companion.

So, what is there to do? One highly respected service dog group is circulating a petition to bring the Justice Department into the fray. They want the bogus registries shut down. But, I am not for that. Where there is an illegal will, there is a way and people will circumvent the law in an absence of true standards.

I propose a national conference on standards, training and registry that brings together hotels, restaurants, law enforcement, the ADA, trainers, service dog agencies and people like me with a vested interest in peaceful coexistence and accommodation. In the absence of agreement on what constitutes a service dog the problem will persist.

I envision a national hotline, a real registry site for dogs in training and who have passed a certification exam, national support for psychiatric patients who need training in social interactions with a dog, training seminars in conflict resolution for service staff, law enforcement and so on…

Education is the key…

 

Postscript:

Today, I was at a coffee shop and a woman asked me a question that sounded much more like an accusation: “What is wrong with you?” I took it in stride and replied with in my usual sardonic fashion. But, she represents a large percentage of Americans who have no idea why an able looking individual might need a dog. Imagine if her first encounter had been an aggressive fraud….

 

Posted in Fake Service Dogs, PTSD, Service Dogs, VA | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

List of Service Dog Agencies

service dog agency listFollowing is an alphabetical list of service dog providers in the U.S. and a couple from Canada.

This is a preliminary attempt to create a solid database of resources for people who hope to apply for service dogs. Soon we will have it searchable by State, Services Provided and so on.

Many agencies have sprung up in the last three to five years and I would like to add them in and would like to include more information on each of these groups.

If you know of a group we missed or have corrections for this list, please add a comment at the end of this post and we will index it ASAP.

Please include: Name, Address, Contact information, Type of Training (DIY, ect…) and client target population (Veterans, Hearing Impaired, Autism….).

Later I hope to include costs, waiting time, and other pertinent information. Thank you! to Maryann Helpern for researching and compiling this initial list.

Adler Assistance Dogs

Adlerdogs@aol.com

contact: Wendy Ender

Po Box 9728

Denver, Colorado 80209

Phone # 303-722-0327

 

AIM HI Service Dog Training center

(Animals in the military Helping Individuals)

North Plains District Vet. Command

Service Dog Center National Headquarters

833 McClellen Ave.

Fort Leavenworth,Kansas 66027

( military vets and their families only)

 

AIM HI Service DOg Training Center

CDR USA MEDDAC

Attn: MCVS ATA K

Pam Oughton, Director

Service Dog Training Center

Bldg.1489 Eisenhower Ave.

Fort Knox, Kentucky, 40121

phone# 502-624-8986

 

Alert Service Dogs

info @alertservicedogs.com

ASD,Inc.

9036 Buckeye Court

Indianapolis, Indiana, 46260

phone #- 800-518-1810

fax# 1-800-518-5144

 

Alpha K-9

Sacramento

info@alphak9.org

https://www.facebook.com/AlphaK9

7500 14th Ave.#21

Sacramento, California 95820

phone # 916-400-4337

 

Angel Service Dogs

PO Box 2756

Monument, Colorado,80132

 

Anything’s Pawzible

rendy@anythingispawzible.com

1330W North Ave,Chicago Illinois, 60622

phone#773-919-PAWS

 

Anything’s Pawzible

118 Madison ave

Cuyanoga Falls, Ohio

 

Arizona Goldens,LLC

AZGOLDENSLLC2COX.NET

PO Box 40776

Mesa,Arizona 40776

phone#480-205-6810

(emotional- autism service dogs)

 

Assistance Dogs of Hawaii

elena@interpac.net

PO Box 474

Hawi,Hawaii,96719

Phone# 808-889-0166

 

Barking Angels

www.barkingangelsservicedogfoundation

contact:Joe Giambione

7644 W.Dickens

Elmwood Park,Illinois 60707

Phone# 312-504-5225

 

Battle Buddies(USA)

www.battlebuddies.org

c/o Steven Frye

PO Box 922, Newport ,Rhode Island 02840

phone#

 

Battle Buddy Foundation

email

8859 Cincinnati_Dayton Rd. Suite 202

Olde West Chester, Ohio 45069

phone#

 

Blessings Unleashed Foundation

dana@blessingsunleashed.org

PO Box 1743

Glasgow, Kentucky 42142

phone # 270-670-4000

(autism service dogs)

 

Baltimore Service and assistance Dog Club

email-

6 St. Paul St. suite 902

Baltimore,MD 21202

 

 

 

Canadian Service Dog Foundation

www.servicedog.ca

address:

 

phone# 613-914-2733

 

 

Canines 4 Hope

Canines 4 Hope

Jason DeVito

Palm City, Florida

772-631-4931

 

Canine Angels

info@canineangelsservicedogs.org

98 Shadow Moss Place

North Myrtle Beach, SC 29578

phone#:

 

Canine Angels

info@canine-angels.org

Canine Angels

PO Box 526

Diamond Bar, CA 91765

Phone#1-888-541-846-6400

 

Canine Angels

info@canine-angels.org

Canine Angels

13475 N.Applegate Rd.

Grants Pass,OR 97527

phone#1-888-541-6400

 

Canine Battle Buddy

www.battle-buddy.org/

Canine Battle Buddy

8859 Cincinnati- Dayton Rd.Suite 202

Olde West Chester, Ohio 45069

phone#

 

Canine Companions for Independence

Debra Dougherty

North East Reg. training Facility

286 Middle Island Rd.

Medford,NY 11763

phone# 1-800-572-2275

&nbsp

Canine Assistants

A non-profit organization that trains and provides service dogs to enhance and improve the lives of children and adults who have physical disabilities, seizure conditions or other special needs.
3160 Francis Road
Milton, Georgia 30004
770-664-7178
Toll Free: 800-771-7221
Fax: 770-664-7820

Addtional info: The PBS special, and the book it was based on, “Through a Dog’s Eyes,” was based on this organization.

&nbsp

Canine Companions For Independence

Nicole Mouton, Exec.Director,NW

PO Box 446

Santa Rosa,CA 94502

phone#1-800-572-BARK

 

Canine Companions for Independence

8150 Clarcona Ocoee Rd.

Orlando,Fla.

phone# 407-522-3300

 

Canine Companions For Independence

SW Campus

PO Box 4568

Oceanside CA 92052

phone#-760-901-4300 or 1-800-572-BARK

 

Canine Canine Partners of the Rockies

info@caninepartnersofthe rockies.org

Canine Partners of the Rockies

c/o Linda Port

PO Box 460214

Denver, CO 80246

phone# 303-364-9040

 

Canine Partners For Life

www.K94life.org

canine Partners for Life

PO Box 170

Cochranville,PA 19330

phone- 610-869-4902

Fax- 610-869-9785

 

Canine Working Partners

canineworkingcompanions.org/cwc

Canine working Partners

PO Box 2128

Syracuse, NY 13220

phone#-

 

 

Central Pennsylvania Animal Alliance

info@cpaa.info

1802 Silver Pine Cir.

Mechanicsburg, Pa,17050

phone#-717-732-0611

Coalition for the Empowerment of Patriots, Inc.
Pets Empowering Patriots Program (A service dog therapy program for Veterans with PTSD, TBI, MST and/or physical disabilities)
http://www.empoweringpatriots.org
info@empoweringpatriots.org
P.O. Box 117
Griffith, IN 46319
219.798.1212

Canines for Veterans

info@caninesforservice.org

Canines For Service

PO box 12643

Wilmington, NC 28405

phone# 910-362-8181 or 1-866-910-3647

Coalition for the Empowerment of Patriots, Inc.
Pets Empowering Patriots Program (A service dog therapy program for Veterans with PTSD, TBI, MST and/or physical disabilities)
http://www.empoweringpatriots.org
info@empoweringpatriots.org
P.O. Box 117
Griffith, IN 46319
219.798.1212

Companions For Heroes

INFO@companionsforheroes.org

Companions For Heroes

PO Bx 7328

Fairfax Station, Va. 22039

phone#1-866-701-7553

Daffron Doghouse
http://daffrondoghouseownertrainingprogram.yolasite.com/.
DaffronDoghouse Owner Training Program
daffrondoghouseownertrainingprogram.yolasite.com
Ph# 913-523-6034

Discovery Dogs

DiscoveryDogs@DoscoveryDogs.org

Discovery Dogs

c/oSheri Denhower

PO Box 6050

San Rafael,CA.94903

phone# 415-479-9557

Fax-415-472-4431

 

Dogs Ears& Paws

info@eenp.org

Dogs Ears & Paws

c/o Maria Ikenberry

PO Box 3443

Chapel Hill,NC 27515

phone#919-408-PAWS(7292)

 

Dogs Ears & Paws

info@dogsandpaws.com

Dogs Ears & Paws

c/o Debbie Winkler

5399 Enterprise St.

Sykesville,MD 21784

phone# 410-655-2858 or 410-552-5052

Dogs for the Deaf

Phone: (541) 826-9220 or toll free outside of Oregon 1-800-990-3647

Mail: 10175 Wheeler Road, Central Point, Oregon 97502
E-mail: info@dogsforthedeaf.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DogsfortheDeaf

 

Canines for Service

PO Box 12643

Wilmington,NC 28405

phone# 1-866-9103647 or 910-362-8181

 

 

Dogs For Disabilities

info@dogsfordisabilities.com

Dogs for Disabilities

PO Box 537

Batavia,Ill. 60510

 

Dogs With A Mission

info@dogmission.com

Dogs With A Mission

c/o Jolanthe Wignholds

PO Box 40266

Washington,DC

phone# 202-669-8316

Fax 202-363-6595

 

 

Dogs Help

servicedogs@comcast.net

Dogs Help

c/o Myra Fourwinds

401 LaBore Rd #115

Little Canada, Minn. 55117

phone# 763-753-6260

 

Dublin Dog Foundation: Service Dog Charity

info@dublindog.com

Dublin Dog Foundation: Service Dog charity

1435 W. Morehead St.

Charlotte, NC

 

E.

 

Elite K-9 Academy

Jeanne or Nick Kutsukas

18291 126th Terr. N.

Jupiter, Fla.

phone# 561-575-3144

 

East Coast Asst.Dogs(Service Dogs)

ECAD1@aol.com

East Coast Assistance Dogs

Lu Picard

PO Box 831

Torrington, Connecticut 06790

phone# 860-489-6550

Fax- 860-489-3791

F.

 

Fidos for Freedom,Inc.

client services:clients@fidosforfreedom

Fidos for Freedom

1200 Sandy Springs,

Laurel,MD

phone# 410-880-4178 or 301-490-4005

Fax 301-490-0906

 

Freedom Service Dogs

info@freedomservicedogs.org

Freedom Service Dogs

2000 W.Union Ave.

Englewood,CO 80110-5567

phone-303-922-6231

Fax-303-922-6234

 

G.

 

Gold Str Dog Training

goldstar252@yahoo.com

Gold Star Training

c/o Eric Sanders

Parumph,Nevada, 89060

phone# 702-497-7229

 

Great Plains Assistance Dogs

gpad@daktel.com

Great Plains Assistance Dogs

c/o mike Goehring

PO Box 513

Jud, ND 58454

phone 701-685-2242

Fax- 701-685-2290

 

H.

 

Handi-Dogs(service dogs)

service@handi-dogs.org

Handi-Dogs

75 S.Montego Dr.

Tucson, Arizona 85710

phone-520-326-3142

fax- 520-319-8186

 

Happy Tails Service Dogs,Inc

c/o Joyce Weber

One West Sequoia Drive

Phoenix, Arizona 85027

phone# 623-580-0946

 

Hawaii Canines for Independence

Mauer@mauer.net

Hawaii Canines for Independence

c/o Mo Mauer

PO Box 790626

Pala, Hawaii 96779

phone#-808-250-5799

H4 – Hounds Helping Heroes Heal

(Creating a healthier future for U.S. Military Veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) by pairing them with an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) or PTSD Service Dog that has been rescued from a shelter.)

http://www.h4hero.com/

P.O. Box 153

Mansfield, TX. 76063

Email: info@H4hero.com

 

Hero Dogs- Service Dogs for america’s Heroes

hero@hero-dogs.org

Hero Dogs( service Dogs for America’s Heroes)

PO Box 64

Brookeville, MD 20833

Phone & Fax- 1-888-570-8653

 

I.

 

Independence Dogs

idi@netreach.net

Independence Dogs

c/o M.Jean King

146 State Line Rd.

Chadsford, PA 19317

Phone#610-358-2723

Fax-610-358-5314

 

k.

 

K-9 Service Dogs of New Jersey

K9chieftrainer@juno.com

K-9 Service Dogs of NJ

Oradell,NJ 07649

phone# 201-200-4368

Fax#-201-244-1117

 

Karosel Service Dogs

shirlee@bigsky.net

Karosel Service Dogs

c/o Shirlee Walker

4805 DesChamps Lane

Missoula, Montana 59808

phone# 406-543-7672

 

Keystone Human Services

mdehart@keystonehumanservices.org

Keystone Human Services

124 Pine Street

Harrisburg, PA 17101

phone# 717-232-7509

toll free- 1-800-377-6504

 

L.

 

Lonestar Assistance Dog Service(LADS)

LADS7612@charternet.net

Lonestar Assistance Dog Service

c/o Vivian Ausmus

PO Box 1528

Azle,Texas, 76098

phone#-817-249-8585

 

Loving Paws Assistance Dog

lvgpaws@lovingpaws.com

LOving Paws Assistance Dog

c/o Linda Jennings

PO Box 12005

SantaRosa,CA 94506

phone#707-586-0789

 

M.

 

Makana Aloha Foundation

Asst. Dogs of Hawaii

mo@assiatancedogsofhawaii.org

Makana Aloha Foundation

c/o Will & Mo Maurer

PO Box 1803

Makawao,Hawaii 96768

phone# 808-298-0167

 

Midwest Assistance Dogs,Inc.

c/o Mark Halasz

PO Box 1891

S.Bend Indiana,46634

phone# 574-272-7677

 

N.

 

Nanhall Training Center

c/o Frances Shatner Keys

2206 Martin Luther King Dr.

Greensboro, NC 27406

phone# 919-272-6584

 

New Horizons Service Dogs/the Lost Tree Charitable Fund

info@losttreefoundation.org

New Horizons Service Dogs

11520 Lost Tree Way

North Pam Beach, Fla. 33408

phone# 561-622-3780

Fax# 561-626-5885

 

New Life Mobility Assistance Dogs

newlife@NLMAD.org

NLMAD

PO Box 659

Moravian Falls, NC 28654

phone# 336-838-2215

 

Next Step Service Dogs

support@nextstepservicedogs.org

Next Step West Coast Chapter

PO Box 130487

Carlsbad,CA 92011

phone#768-438-9190 or 858-945-2455

Sally Montrucchio- training Dir. – West Coast leader

 

Next Step service Dogs

NJ Branch

no info

would call the west coast branch for info

 

North Star Foundation

www.northstardogs.com

northstarfoundation@charter.net

North Star Foundation

attn: Patty Dobbs Gross, Exec. Director

20 Deerfield Lane

Storrs, Connecticut,

phone31-860-423-0664

 

 

Northwest Battle Buddies

northwestbattlebuddies@gmail.com

Northwest Battle Buddies

PO Box 2511

Battle Ground, Washington,98604

phone#360-601-9744

 

P.

 

4 Paws for Ability

info@4pawsforability

4 pawsforability

253 Dayton Ave

Xenia,Ohio 45385

phone# 937-374-0385 or 937-708-6677

 

Paws Abilities

c/o Glen Martin

3735 Big Flat Rd.

Missoula,montana 59804

phone# 406-549-0221

 

Paws & Stripes

www.pawsandstripes.org

veterandogs@pawsandstripes.org

 

Paws for Freedom

lashearer1@yahoo.com

10580 Barkley St. suite 455

Overland Park,Kansas,66212

phone# 913-901-9400

 

Paws for Purple Hearts

sandra@pawsforpurplehearts.org

Paws for Purple Hearts

PO Box 50275

Arlington, VA 22205

phone#202-681-9575 or 707-238-5110

 

Paws for Purple Hearts

bonnie@pawsforpurplehearts.org

5860 Labeth Avenue suite A

Rohnert Park,CA 94928

phone# 202-681-9575 or 707-238-5110

 

Penny’s from Heaven Foundation,Inc.

www.pennysfromheavenfoundation.org

Penny’s from Heaven Foundation, Inc.

13423 Blanco Rd. Suite 218

San Antonio, Texas, 78216

phone#

 

Pets for Vets-Houston

contactforpetsforvetshouston.com

Pets For Vets

Jessica Devitt- Pres.

7941 Katy Freeway #175

Houston, Texas 77024

phone#713-364-6235

 

Pets for Vets-Chicago_Ill.

contact@chicagononprofit.org

Pets for Vets Chicago

345W. Canal St #C0001

Chicago,Illinois 60606

phone#312-583-7610

 

Pets for Vets-Wilmington,NC

pets-for-vets.com/

409 Black Diamond Drive

Wilmington,NC 28411

phone# I would call the Houston or Chicago #’s

as it looks like there are many divisios_ but not always full info. ( check for one near you)

 

Paws with a Cause

paws@alliance.net

Paws with a cause corp. office

1235 100th St S.E.

Bryon Center, Michigan 49315

phone# 616-696-0688 or 1-800-253-PAWS

 

Pro_Train

protrain@flash.net

Pro-Train

c/o Mark Castillo

1544 Avohill Dr.

Vista,CA 92084

phone# 877-223-3647

 

Puppies Behind Bars ( service dogs for vets)

puppiesbehindbars.com

Puppies Behind Bars

126 W 38th St. 4th floor

New York, NY 10018

phone# 212-680-9562 or 212-689-9330

 

Puppy Jake Foundation

Beckysbeach@aol.com

Puppy Jake Foundation

c/o Becky Beach

4020 John Lynde Rd.

Des Moines, Iowa 50312

phone# 515-490-9766

 

S.

 

Sam Simon Charitable Foundation

info@samsimonfoundation.org

Sam Simon Charitable Foundation

c/o Jannelle Hackman

30765 Pacific Coast Highway #113

Malibu, CA 90265

phone#-310-457-5898

(hearing dogs)

 

Semper Fido

Info@semperfido.org

Semper Fido

131 KenilworthRd

Marlton, NJ 08053

phone# 1-856-810-3923

 

Service Dog Express

Laurie@servicedogexpress.com

www.servicedogexpress.com

FB:Sevice Dog Express

Service Dogs Express

207 Willow Grove Drive

San Antonio,Texas 7824

phone#210-201-3641

 

Service Dogs For America

info@servicedogsforamerica.org

ServiceDogs For america

920 Short Street

Jud, NOrth Dakota 58454

 

Service Dogs of America

jackrayl@megiscounty.net

Service Dogs of America

c/o Pres. Jack Rayl

PO Box 228

Nitoa, Tennessee 37826

 

Service Dogs of Virginia

info@servicedogsva.org

Service Dogs of America

PO Box 408

Charlottesville, Va. 22902

phone# 434-295-9503

 

Service Dog Project

info@SERVICEDOGPROJECT.ORG

Service Dog Project

37 Boxford rd.

Ipswich, Maine 01938

Phone# 978-356-0666

 

Service Dog Training Programs

workinglikedogs.com

Working Like Dogs

PO Box 4578

Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502

phone# 1-866-445-3647

 

Service Dogs-Tackett Services

Tom@tackettservicedogs.com

Service Dogs-Tackett Services

PO Box 2461

Orange,CA 92859

phone#714-608-1077

 

Service Pets for Service Vets

RSMF.org/service

Pets for Service Vets

12 Port Access Rd.

Erie, PA 16507

phone#

 

Shore Service Dogs

info@shoreservicedogs.com

PO Box 2251

Salisbury, MD 21802

phone- cost too high for provider

please e-mail for info

 

Soldiers Best Friend_ Arizona

contact@asoldiersbestfriend.org

Soldiers Best Friend

5955 W.Peoria Ave.#6242

Glendale, Arizona,85312

phone#-480-269-1738

Fax-623-234-4815

 

St.Francis Service Dogs

info@stfrancisdogs.org

S. Francis service Dogs

PO Box 19538

Roanoke,VA 24019

phone# 540-342-3647(DOGS)

fax 540-342-0906

 

Sterling Service Dogs

info@sterlingservicedogs.org

Sterling Service Dogs

3715 E.Fifteen Mile rd.

Sterling Heights, michigan 48310

Phone#586-977-9716

Fax-

586-977-0079

 

Susquehanna Service Dogs

SSD@keystonehumanservices.org

Susquehanna service Dogs

555 LeSentier Lane

Harrisburg, PA 17112

phone#/fax-717-599-5920

 

 

T.

 

Tender Loving Canines-Service Dogs(TLCAD)

info@tlcad.org

TLCAD

PO Box 1244

Solana Beach,CA 92075

phone#1-800-385-1282

858-461-6827

Fax 858-461-6846

 

The Spirit Training Center- Home Of TLCAD

(all ifo above the same except address)

1250 Activity Drive Suite A

Vista, CA 92081

 

The Carlson Company(Service Dogs)

ccarlson@carlson.com

The Carlson Company

2305 Daniels st.

Madison Wisconsin,53718

phone#608-222-4540 ext.123

 

The Good Dog Foundation

info@thegooddogfoundation.org

The Good Dog Foundation

PO Box 1484

NY,NY 10276

phone# 888-859-9992

Fax-888-861-7312

 

U.

 

USA Battle Buddies

only info found is an e-mail address

usabattlebuddies@gmail.com

 

V.

 

Vets Adopt Pets(service dogs)

vetsadoptpets@gmail.com

Vets Adopt Pets

PO Box 15041

SanFrancisco, CA 94115

 

W.

 

WAGS/Vicon Kennels

C/o Connie Standley

36436 Calhoun rd.

Eustis, Florida 32736

phone: 352-482-3988

 

Warrior Dog Foundation

www.warriordogfoundation.org

warriorDog Fund

PO Box 108

Cooper, Texas 75432

phone#

 

Wilderwood Service Dogs

wilderwood@charter.net

www.wilderwood.org

Wilderwood Service Dogs

139 Tuckaleechee Tr.

Maryville,Tennesse 37803

phone#& fax 865-660-0095

Tiffany Denyer,Ex. Director

 

Wisconsin Academy for Graduate Service Dogs,Inc.

info@wags.net

WAGS

c/o Carla Coleman

1338 Dewey Circle

Madison,Wisconsin,53703

phone#608-250-9247

 

Wisconsin Correctional Liberty Dog Program

warden-Dan Bertrand-Daniel Bertrand@doc.state.wi.us

sister Pauline- siaterop@ime.net

Robert Kent -Robert Ken@doc.state.wi.us

Superintendent Bob Kent

Sanger B Powers Correctional

N8375 County Line Rd.Oneida, Wisconsin 54155-9300

Phone# 920-869-1095

 

Wounded Warrior Project

www.woundedwarriorproject.org

4899 Belfort Rd, Suite 300

Jacksonville, Florida 32256

Phone 877-team-WWP(832-6997

904-296-7350

fax-904-296-7347

There are about 15 contact offices in 15 states-

go to www.woundedwarriorproject.com

when in go to contact us: you will see the contacts

 

 

Posted in Hero Dogs, PTSD, Service Dogs, Veterans | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Comments

The Voices at Arlington

The Voices at Arlington

(This story first appeared in The Dogington Post and will be included in the In Dogs We Trust e-book and softcover editions. )

“…what most separates dogs from humankind isn’t mental capacity, however, but innocence. This innocence carries with it a clarity of perception that allows dogs to glory in the wonder of creation in even the most humble scene and quiet moment…the combination of their innocence and their intelligence allows them to serve as a bridge between what is transient and what is eternal, between the finite and the infinite.” –Dean Koontz

Gander, my service dog, and I frequent veteran cemeteries and memorials when we travel. We accept requests in advance from friends and social media; contacts will ask us to visit a relative’s gravesite, take a picture of a name on a memorial or leave something in memoriam. Gander quietly sits vigil as I prepare for the rites I have promised to perform. I take this ritual seriously and Gander honors the gravity of promise fulfillment with exceptional calm and professionalism.

Because of the solemnity of our intentions, we go when few people are likely to be there with us at the same time. But, more than once we have exchanged whispered greetings along the way with others and have occasionally been invited into emotional drawing rooms: that place between the living and the dead where Gold Star families mourn. Twice, while at Arlington National Cemetery, Gander has called people deep in grief out of their sadness and comforted them as they spoke about love and loss.

I think we often see and hear what we want to see and hear; we interpret simple events as important lessons. And at other times life rally does conjure up for us exactly what we need, at that moment in time, to navigate toward safety and comfort; a last chance at rescue before resigning ourselves to being adrift forever.

Gander had stopped unexpectedly several times. He would look to me for approval and then gaze out toward the long rows of white markers. Then he would cock his head the way a dog does when someone is talking to him.

A women and her daughter who had been ahead of us for most of our journey toward the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier stopped just a few yards short of our destination. “Do you suppose he can hear them? The soldiers?” I was relieved. It wasn’t just me who thought he was in touch with something invisible and inaudible to we humans. It was a beautiful sunny day. There was a slight breeze, but it was barely strong enough to rustle leaves. He looked engaged, not perplexed or curious in the same caring way he connects with me when I need a dispassionate listener in times of inner turmoil.

She told me that she visits Arlington once a week. Her brother was interred not far away. He’d served in Vietnam as a hospital corpsman. His Purple Heart was earned with a minor injury when their mobile surgery facility was mortared one dark midnight in 1969. He’d been given the Silver Star for his selfless actions that same night while attending to patients without regard for his own welfare. She shared that he had left both medals at the base of Vietnam Memorial years ago as a tribute to the dozens of men he had watched succumb to injuries beyond medicine’s ability to repair.

The day his tour ended he was taken by helicopter from a fire base where he had been performing triage, deciding who would stand the best chance of quick treatment, for wounded members of a platoon that experienced heavy casualties when ambushed by the Viet Cong. He was transported to a waiting 727 that flew him to San Francisco where, still in jungle fatigues, he disembarked through a gauntlet of angry protesters. At twenty years old he was a stranger in his own country after only nine months in Vietnam.

He’d been afraid when he went, she said. The fear was replaced by the grief and guilt he felt on his return. She told me that remembered every name, and held pictures in his mind of every wound he had dressed. His world became television, books, and a dozen ways to pass the sleepless hours.

A job in the post office on the graveyard shift kept him financially solvent. He never applied for Veterans benefit. Working at night, there were few people who demanded his attention. But, the anxiety and depression worsened. And isolation couldn’t create enough new memories to replace the old ones.

By the time he reached out for help, the VA, with the casualties of two new wars to attend to, had few programs and little time to coax cooperation from an aging Viet Vet. The new counselor hires were kind enough, but they couldn’t empathize with a man, decades their senior, who could barely give voice to the increasing sadness and despair inside of him.

He left a note the day he hung himself. He said the only reliable friend left in his life was suicide. He asked not to be buried in a military cemetery because that was reserved for soldiers who fought and for those he’d watched over as they died. But, because money was tight she had arranged for him to be interred at Arlington.

“I feel ashamed. I want him to be at peace,” she said quietly. “Do you think he can ever forgive me?”

You want to say “yes” at moments like that. You want to have a spiritual connection; you want to believe that this kind of deadly regret can be vanquished. That another good person should die physically, emotionally or spiritually because they had done the best they could, should never happen.

I want to lie just to give her some peace. But, remorse and grief are clever, intuitive adversaries: They know when you have nothing more to offer than a “sorry” in the way of a anecdote, aphorism or falsehood meant to send them on their way. I had courted suicide for a long time. There, but for the grace of Gander and God, was I. But, I couldn’t do it. I didn’t know what to do or say.

Just then, Gander rose, turned again toward the graves, before slowly moving toward me with his head bowed. He reared back on his hind legs and placed his front paws squarely in the center of my chest and looked me straight in the eyes the way he does when I am overwhelmed and at a loss for words or actions. A long kiss on the cheek later and he pushed himself off, wheeling to turn toward the woman, who by now was in tears. He turned his body sideways and leaned his weight against her.

It hardly matters whether or not it was coincidence that Gander chose that moment to be affectionate. It has happened so many times now I am no longer surprised when it happens. There was no explanation needed, no words left to be exchanged between us. She did lean down to look into Gander’s endlessly soulful eyes to say “thank you”. We both received an answer we could believe.

“That’s what heaven is. You get to make sense of your yesterdays” –Mitch Albom

Veteran Traveler blogger Lon Hodge is an award winning poet, writer and activist for suicide prevention among Veterans and victims of trauma. He travels with his service dog Gander in support of awareness of the healing power of dogs.

Follow Gander on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ganderservicedog on Twitter at http://twitter.com/veterantraveler or on Instagram at http://instagram.com/veterantraveler

You Can Purchase In Dogs We Trust here: In Dogs
100% of profits go toward suicide prevention charities.
 

This story first appeared in The Dogington Post and will be included in the In Dogs We Trust e-book and softcover editions.

Posted in Military Families, PTSD, Suicide, VA, VA Benefits, Veterans, Vietnam | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The King of Sadness

“There is so little to remember of anyone – an anecdote, a conversation at a table. But every memory is turned over and over again, every word, however chance, written in the heart in the hope that memory will fulfill itself, and become flesh, and that the wanderers will find a way home, and the peGander Dogrished, whose lack we always feel, will step through the door finally and stroke our hair with dreaming habitual fondness not having meant to keep us waiting long.”

― Marilynne Robinson

 

My wife calls me the King of Sadness. She won’t read anything I write if she is not in a place where she can safely cry. While she sees the need for me to be cathartic and to give others permission to grieve the losses in their life by being honest about my own, she begs me to write more stories of joy and celebration. I think I do. Let me explain….

Today in the lobby of the hotel where we stay while I am receiving care at the VA, a long-term resident overheard me imploring the desk clerk and manager to look out the back door. There, autumn had gently pushed aside summer, the temperature was a perfect 65 degrees and the sun was burning away a sweet fog that had been gently communing with the pond around which Gander walks every morning.

The resident, who for as long as I have known him, has been full of anger and is known for being disgruntled and volatile and feared as mentally unstable. He has more than one sadly descriptive nickname. We parted ways after he once reached down in an attempt to strike Gander when he thought Gander might brush against him. He hates dogs and has fabricated stories to management in an attempt to get them banned from the hotel. If I thought he could be trusted with an animal, I think there is no human more in desperate need of a pet than this man.

Another guest asked our hotel curmudgeon today what everyone was going to look at outside. His reply: “Nothing. Just a little fog on the pond.” His disconnection from the beauty, only a few steps away, refreshed in me an understanding of things I had desperately needed to comprehend.

That “little fog” today, surrendered itself to a beautiful day, and took with it some of the pain and confusion I had been feeling. At the BMW Golf Championships yesterday, Gander and I were both emotionally and physically bruised when a crush of people eager to get an autograph from Tiger Woods pinned us against a retention fence. We were collecting the autographs on a flag to donate to Freedom Service Dogs to auction at their fund raiser this coming weekend. Tiger, afraid of the consequences of staying much longer stopped signing one person short of our position which we had staked out for almost two hours. We left the course almost immediately. On the way home I thought through my day. A few hours earlier, Phil Mickelson’s press agent had responded to my request to take a pic of him and Gander for an upcoming article about the PGA and wounded warriors by saying that Phil felt if he couldn’t take pictures with all vets he would take pictures with no vets. I was licking my pride induced wounds when I heard the news of the shooting in Washington. I quickly wrote a Facebook update: “The more I am around people, the more I love my dog.” My wife reported to me today that I kept her awake as I fought the demons of the day through a fitful night.

There was a book on the market several years ago entitled, The One Minute Meditator. At first glance you might react cynically and believe it to be a cheap pop culture attempt at mindfulness. Not so. In a country where TV news hopes to consume the better parts of our day with polarizing and demoralizing information; where we have lowered our heads six inches, below where it could be in appreciation of the beauty around us, in order to search for “likes” or another SMS; where a Phil Michelson, who makes more in a week than my father, a decorated hero who gave his life for his country made in a lifetime cut short by war, hasn’t time for a picture; where I have seen my government lower the flags to half-mast more in the last 13 years to honor those lost to mass murder than I saw it lowered the whole of the rest of my life in celebration of those who served us, it is important for us to start finding the pleasure in simple acts…

We would do well to drop what we are doing for a moment of silence, or to savor the taste of something delicious in our mouths, or to close our eyes for sixty seconds and let music translate the words our hearts desperately want everyone to understand, to watch a sunrise, or to stroke the fur of an appreciative pet….

How many suicides could be averted? How many could we lift out of depression? How many innocent souls could remain here on earth instead of being violently sent early on their journey to whatever awaits us beyond this life? To how many could we give a moment of pleasure before they are caught up again in the din and roar of a hurried, harried day of trivial pursuits we have come to believe are important?

This year I have watched closely as Gander created thousands of those kinds of meditative minutes. He was a conduit to all that is good in the here and now and to everything in need of remembering. He has provided a spiritual firewire, for me and hundreds of others he has not even met, needed to access the divine. He has facilitated smiles and goodwill in people worldwide. He has started the healing of many a broken spirit. How he has nurtured health in me and others is important: Often it starts with a memory and a moment of shared grief or loss. He reminds us of the dog that made their lives whole and the times and people that surrounded that period; he joins people with memories of a better time by taking them back to that place before somehow guiding them into the present and a celebration of what once was, maybe with the wag of a tail or an understanding kiss on the hand or cheek. Saul Bellow said, “Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door.” We remember a time when we felt wanted, needed and important.

Grief and the sadness that goes with it are part and parcel of appreciating all that is good. They are travel companions much more comfortable with each other than we know. I have long thought that monsters willing to strike an innocent animal or discharge a lethal bullet in the direction of a stranger must have a monstrous sorrow so tightly constrained that there is little room in their hearts for anything but anger or rage.

I may well be the King of Sadness with Gander as my advisor: Some Merlinesque wizard who can summon the past and cast a spell that empties us of sorrow so we might appreciate, if only for a minute, the joys around us that never really left. I just provide food and shelter for this magical character. He makes us wise by example and allows us to sleep better at night, to be better to all creatures we will meet in our short lives. He helps stretch those meditative minutes into hours, days, weeks…..

I’ll sleep better tonight…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PS:

IN DOGS WE TRUST has an e-book option and it is ready for publication!

There are 25 incredible stories by some of America’s best writers in the print edition.
We have four days left!!!
Please help make it happen. Profits on publication go to Veteran and Service Dog Charities.
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Posted in Hero Dogs, PTSD | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments