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 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

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:

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.