Friday, May 31, 2013

Late but forgotten (many excuses)

Yes many excuses I am sure but the reality is I forgot. Lot's of things happening that have had Iris and I very busy. As mentioned in the last entry we did our planned trip to Smithtown, NY and had a great visit at the Foundation (America's VetDogs).

Some of the things we did while there were a good amount of video that hopefully will be linked to the upcoming website that will be put in place to track the travel adventures of Iris and I. We also spent a lot of time talking about how to tastefully decorate the camper so as to represent America's VetDogs Corporate Image while still giving me the leeway to show that this is a personal gift of giving to insure other veterans are able to get more dogs for the future. I can not wait to see what the designers come up with.

That is a shot of the Truck Camper combinations floating for the first time on the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry. One of the best parts of this setup is that Iris and I will be able to ride on most ferry's or other toll systems for the price of a regular vehicle because nothing hangs over the bumper. This makes it much easier for us to get to any and all locations even those remote locations so if you want to have an event for VetDogs please let me know and lets make it happen. 

For those that do not follow me personally on my other social media sites I will not be updating this blog next week due to medical issues. I will be in the hospital for a minimum of 4 days but hope to be out ASAP with a clean bill of health to resume traveling. The worst part of the trip to the hospital is that I will not be able to have Iris there with me. She will be allowed to come and visit but because it is a Cardiac Care Unit and I will not be allowed off the unit itself I will not be able to take care of her needs. So for her health and safety she will stay with family at home.

I had better get out of the hospital in the 4 days because the week after that little stay Iris and I will be up in Downtown Buffalo speaking at the New York State VFW convention. My personal plan is that I will get out of the Hospital and take a couple days and head to a quiet little campground in Southern New Hampshire called Pillsbury State Park and hope to get some pictures of some loons and moose to relax before heading off to Buffalo. 

As part of my getting ready for the upcoming adventures I have a new toy to play with, a 17-40 Canon L Series Ultra wide angle lens. I took a few shots with it yesterday of Iris and I think it will be a fun one to give a different perspective. Here are a few shots I took just playing around with the camera and lens outside.

As always be safe everyone and thank you all for following our travels.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Wrapping things up

Ok so that is a bad title but I have never been one to leave a bad pun alone. Iris and I will be leaving CT on Wed for a trip to Smithtown, NY the home of The Guide Dog Foundation & America's VetDogs. We will be sitting down with the folks down there to discuss the plans and design for the camper/RV wrap. Because this organization has helped change my life and so many other veterans lives the last thing I would want to do is start this campaign on a sour note with them by doing something without their input.

The Great news though is that this means we are moving forward and the dream of having a moving billboard that constantly makes everyone aware of the needs of our returning veterans is one step closer. After a long phone call with the marketing folks they came up with some great ideas. Some of those ideas should really help things along as far as getting the message out and allowing people to track the travels we do.

Already the Livin-Lite Company "http://" has already posted information about the camper and America's VetDogs in the testimonial section of their website along with highlighting our travels on their facebook pages. I have personally had many emails coming to me asking questions about the camper the travels and Americas VetDogs. This is such a great feeling to have that pull of being a part of something that is going to do great things for so many people.

Some of the ideas that are coming out of the brainstorming are a follow page that will be better at informing everyone what is happening then this personal blog currently does. On that page there will be a way to make donations and see goals that we will set up. Personally tracking the financial side is more than I am interested in but the being able to have peoples comments and stories could really be something in my opinion. The financial stuff is great because I do not have to do any of it so I can focus   on spreading the message.

I have had two professional photographers offer to get shots of Iris and I doing stuff so hopefully we will get more then just the camera phone shots up sooner than later. Thank you to Maggie and Bonnie for the offers and watch out I know that Iris is a great subject but getting a shot of me that doesn't break your lens is going to be a challenge.

Just so you know that Iris and I are traveling still we spent more time down on the beach while the pre-season is still keeping others away and also made it up to the lower mountains of New England for some nice walking and relaxing. With the trip out to the Island this week we will work on a few of the trip plans for the summer and holidays. I know that we have had request from SC, NC, DE, MI, MT, and TN so far for us to come visit. I also have been in contact with the person who raised Iris after she was rescued from the pound while she was at UGA which got me to thinking that I would love to visit the puppy raising program that UGA so graciously does for the Guide Dog Foundation. I have a relative that had a daughter just graduate from there and her comment was that she thought that the dogs were only for Blind people. It would be great to let them see that the graduation rate on dogs has been increased because dogs can now be placed as service dogs or guide dogs.

So many topics so little time. I guess I should wrap it up ASAP (I know another terrible pun)! I thank everyone for their support and please pass the word about what I am doing so that we grow this mission. Prays to all of you and I hope to see you on the road soon.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The week in Review:

This past week was a week of slowing things down some while doing the doctors visits of course. I truly believe that one of the reasons the VA schedules so many appointments for me is they want to see Iris walking the halls, she seems to put smiles on so many people staff and patients included.

On one of our visits last week we had an experience that was quite interesting. For those of you that have my Facebook Feed this is old news but for those that do not you may find it interesting. Many times since I have had the blessing of having Iris I have had the opportunity to educate business's and individuals about service dogs and where they are allowed and how they are used. It is something I love to do and Iris makes it so easy to do. She has such a wonderful personality that disarms people and allows them to feel at ease around her.

So on with the story, Iris and I had a doctors appointment with the Providence VA Cardiologist so we approached the VA as always through the main entrance to check in. As we rounded the corner to the sign-in desk there was another person with a "Service Dog", I have that quoted because this dog was not vested nor was he under control. I immediately placed Iris in a sit to make sure I had control of her and then back out the door. I was not going to turn our backs to this other team especially since the "Service Dog" was a Pit Bull. I am not one of those people that feel pit bulls are an evil breed set on this world to do nothing but fight and bite. However I do believe the way these dogs are trained and handled will determine how they act. This veteran's method of getting control of his dog was to hit his dog with his fist on the top of the head which if you ask me is no way to treat any animal be it dog or human.

What was the outcome of this encounter? Iris and I waited outside until the person finished checking in so we would not tempt his "Service Dog" and they went on to their appointment. Once the coast was clear we went in checked in and proceeded to our Appointment. Little did we know that the wheels had been set in motion by others by contacting the VA police units and soon after arriving at our appointment one of the shift leaders came to where we were. He unfortunately was rather ignorant to the rules and regulations for service dogs and the VA. Seeing an opportunity I whipped out my handy iPad and proceeded to allow him to read the ADA and VA reg's. He ask many questions and was very interested in learning more. Iris and I have done other education seminars at this facility so I suggested that if he felt it would help that we could come back and do one for his officers.

During the time we were talking the other team actually walked past were we were and his dog decided that Iris still looked like a nice lunch snack and they were both asked to leave and escorted out of the building. The VA is not required to adhere to the ADA because it is a federal facility just in case my readers did not know that. Although the ADA does state that the Service Animal must be under control at all times and not be deemed a nuisance or danger. If it is it can be asked to leave and denied access in the future also.

We did go back later that week and do a training session with the day shift for the VA Police and it went extremely well. This particular VA has a number of Service Dogs that go through it with no issues regularly and this is the first time they have had an issue that they have had where they have had to ask someone to leave. I am grateful that it was with me and not another veteran that may not have the wherewithal to handle the stress's of dog on dog issues and ADA, ADI access all at the same time. This was a win win solution for everyone except the person the person with the pit bull service dog that is now unable to have that dog in the VA.

That brings me to my last point. It is a personal point but I feel strongly about this and hope that when people that are looking for a service dog they will take this into thought. There are no rules on the type of dog that can or can't be trained to be a service dog. Many people love certain breeds and I understand that with all my heart, I personally love Lab's and Malamutes. I know that the Malamute scares some people and when taking that into account I do not think it would be a good breed for me to have as a service dog. My service dog is there to allow me to be healthy happy and a part of the community, if I have a dog that draws attention to itself through fear because of breed I in fact am putting pressure on myself in the community I want to regain access into. In my opening sentence's I mentioned how Iris has this ability to disarm peoples fears and I think that America's VetDogs knows this and picks dogs that have this quality. Getting a well trained well suited service dog is paramount in my recovery and placement back into society. As a disabled person wanting to be enabled I need to be prepared to look past my breeds of choice and accept a breed of acceptance to really make things work well.

Ok those are my thoughts for the week. Soapbox dismounted enjoy the day it is what we have.

“We all die. The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” 
― Chuck Palahniuk

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Great time to be alive!

Here we are again only two days later then I originally planned to publish this weeks blog. I will admit that the reasons for not getting it out on time are completely acceptable on my scale of reasons for missing my self imposed deadlines. I was camping with my wife and Iris out on a deserted beach in RI. So as much as I want to share the adventures if I am in the middle of them I will not stop them most likely to write.

The past week has been a busy week for me.

Of course last weeks blog we discussed the Annapolis 5k race for America's VetDogs, since then I have received some more pictures from a great professional photographer who specializes in pet photography. She is married to an active duty Navy Flyer and wants to let any veterans and active duty people know that if they want professional pet work done, give her a call she will volunteer her services. Can't beat that if you ask me. Her name is Bonnie Grower and her web address is check it out. Here are a couple of shots she took while at the event.

Last Friday and Saturday I was asked to take part in an informational day with the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton MA. I was up there with another Graduate from the Guide Dog Foundation which is the parent organization of America's VetDogs. The two of us were there to discuss training, use and many other aspects of guide and service dogs to the disabled communities. The event was a fund raiser for the school itself but the exposure for both The Guide Dog Foundation and America's VetDogs was excellent and well received. We gave out lots of handouts and hopefully raised awareness and created new potential donors for these organizations. We had so many people completely taken by Iris & Tom the other guide as we demonstrated the uses of these dogs in everyday life. Here is our morning setup before the crowds took over.

OK that should be enough for this week hope everyone enjoys our posting. If you want more or less please drop me an email at and I will try to my best to tailor this to give you all what you want. Remember this is the month that Memorial Day fall's in if your school or organization would like to have a veteran or active duty service member come speak please don't wait till the last minute before asking. I know that Iris and I love to go out and speak when asked but our schedule gets busy early.