Thursday, November 5, 2015



Sorry to report that my computer has officially crashed with no life support able to bring it back to life. Because of that my blog has taken a hit for updates. Mike and I have been very busy with both personal and veteran issues. As I look for ways to get the word out about helping our nations veterans I can not help but be grateful for all of you that continue to help in so many ways.

This month Mike & I have traveled all over New England and New York. Many American Legion activities along with VetDogs speaking has kept me sane while on a personal note we prepare for my sons upcoming wedding. It is so hard to believe that my baby boy who I held in the palm of my hand what seems like yesterday is now an adult and getting married on Saturday. So many feelings rush through my mind as I write here but most importantly satisfaction knowing that he is a bright young man taking on a new role in life. Who knows I may be a grandfather in a couple years, God knows both Dan And Laura will make wonderful parents.

On the veteran front things have been ultra busy. Here in Northeastern CT we have a new coffee house setup to help veterans come to grips with being a civilian along with bonding together to help each other. Mike and I were even able to present to the group about life with a service dog and some of the other projects I have been blessed to help with.  I need to take a moment to mention the CT American Legion has been so helpful in getting the word out and financially supporting VetDogs. I've even had a chance to speak to state and national level legionaries over the past month.

America's VetDogs has published their monthly news letter and in that they have put together a video that was shot when I received Mike. Personally I don't ever think I can do this organization credit but to be able to part of spreading the word that veterans have a place to go for help is humbling. Check it out:

Well since this iPad doesn't allow me to edit and write as well as I would like I'm going to call it a wrap for this version. Remember that if anyone wants to get active please reach out to me and I will do my darnedest to help you find your niche. There is nothing more satisfying then helping another person without expecting anything in return. God bless.   

Sunday, September 27, 2015


The though of being able to understand the concept of going back to our roots is something that we rarely get a chance to experience. This is especially true when our lives are lived in warp drive rarely slowing down enough to check the weather.  Well once Mike and I came back from the National Convention we slowed down a little (some people might disagree but I use my own speedometer) and also had the opportunity to be invited to a couple events that gave me thought.

First off I had to help my daughter move her stuff into her own place 2 states away, talk about making someone think about going back to the roots. Well maybe not all the way back but at least back to her roots when she came into this world as a premature baby and we all wondered how that little bundle would turn out. Well now she is out changing lives on a daily basis working with others to help mend and create healthy bodies. To see her live a dream and become such a strong young lady makes her "Daddy" proud. I think I may finally understand how my parents may have felt when I started to take on my own role in life. (ROOTS)

So the real thoughts of Roots came this week when I was asked to go and partake in the Prison Pups Benevolent Association'a fund raiser to help the program that works with the MA Prison system K-9 programs. This program works with America's VetDogs and NEADS who both train service Dogs in many of the MA prisons. The group consist of many of the CO's and other Staff along with community members that see the changes these puppies bring to the entire system. Of course when I was called and asked to come up I could not say yes fast enough. 

When I arrived on Friday morning the reaction mike received was great to watch. Remember that Mike was raised in Framingham MCI so many of these great people that are giving up their Friday and money to support this event also put in many hours watching Mike grow up. Mike remembered them all and wanted to say hello to them all also. The boy that is usually so good at staying by my side and ignoring others was back in puppy mode for a time but he got it out of his system and let me know he was back on the job. To be able to hear all the stories about how Mike was in his time at MCI was wonderful and satisfying for sure. I always knew he was special but now I know that he was a special one from day one or should I say week 8 ;)

The stories during the day between the CO's and other staff members solidified my understanding of how much this gift of a service dog program makes in the community. I say it like that because the reach of these dogs is boundless when you think about it. There are lives that will be either touched or untouched because of these dogs. The obvious is the Prisoner who changes because their heart has been touched we all see that but how about the CO who is assigned to walk the wall and sneaks a treat into his or her pocket in hopes of a quick pet and a smile during the rounds. Do we think about the reactions that happen later in the day when he/she goes home and instead of getting drunk decides to volunteer as a big brother or a couch or maybe they get bumped and instead of going off because of the high stress job they are able to react differently. Little things like this we don't think about but they happen all the time.

There is more though. When you look at the dogs in the prisons the entire system changes in subtle ways to make it possible to have them and it affects every person inside the walls. When you talk to the staff their eyes light up and there is no way that you can tell me that same enthusiasm I see doesn't effect the interactions between prisoners and staff and prisoners and prisoners. If only one person is changed a little then we have a butterfly affect taking place where down the road a crime that could have taken place my not because of a change of heart. That means one or more less victims see what I mean by effecting people that will never know. The entire program changes lives in ways that can not be evaluated. 

We have not even gotten to the weekend puppy raisers yet. Lets take a moment to speak about these people who travel sometimes a couple hours in both directions to sit through training and socialization classes for these little puppies after a long week of their own working lives. Just so they can help the program. After meeting many of these raisers I can tell you that not one of them would be the type of people I personally would expect to hang around a prison system let alone get involved with a program where they are interacting with them weekly. Not only do they interact though they shout this stuff from the mountaintops, they own this program like you wouldn't believe. Every one of these raisers I spoke to has a passion about what they do and why they do it that just oozes out and covers the community creating a buzz. I found myself saying things like hey if you guys ever need anything like pictures and stuff just call because well they are so involved you can't help but want to help them help others.

I guess what I am saying is when you get involved with a grass roots program and look at the changes it makes take a moment to look for the changes you can't see. You will want to help even more. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

August was a busy month!

The Pictures of Mike & I are Provided by
the Veteran Portrait Projec
The “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is hard to believe that I actually let the entire month of August go by without making any entries here, for that I am sorry. For those that follow this rambling of mine I guess it doesn't surprise you at all. The month of August is normally one of the busiest months of the year for me and this year was no slouch that is for sure. If you read the last entry you saw the list of events I had mentioned and I will tell you that each and every one of those went off along with some unplanned surprises also.

The month was full of emotions as well as events which for me makes things extra special. When I focused my life toward the goal of helping others and taking the time to get to know people at a different level then I have ever been able to do my life really changed. It is not an easy road to travel but it is a very satisfying one once you get past the fear and unknowns that get thrown your way. The blessings I have seen (I am sure they have always been there) have had me in tears often this month.

Some of the highlights of the month for me were being able to travel over to Long Island and meet with Brian & his bride Angie while they received his new guide/service dog. The unexpected retirement of Othello was such a loss and looked to be irreplaceable (just like Iris felt to me) yet once again America's VetDogs and the Guide Dog Foundation was able to train and pair an amazing puppy that took to Brian as if he had been waiting for him forever. To see that joy of a family being brought back together after such a tragedy of retiring Othello was tear jerking.

At the same time on the Island I was able to take part in the 1st ever 5k run/walk fundraiser at the Old Bethpage Museum. Being able to meet local to the foundation people was a unique experience and something I am very grateful for. The event was a huge success and many new friends were made. One of the highlights was being able to spend time with another veteran that has a guide dog from the foundation. He was a Korean War Vet and has never been able to get into the VA system due to a number of reasons. Hopefully during our conversation we were able to clear some things up and he will be able to now start the process to get his benefits that he has coming to him.

One of the biggest problems out there is that many of our nations veterans do not realize or they have tried but have been given wrong information and never followed up with a Veteran Service Officer. Please if you know a Veteran who was discharged honorably who has any issues going on in his or her life I am not saying they are always going to get benefits but more often then not there will always be someone that will help them figure out how to proceed to best handle any situation. No person should have to handle life alone and Veterans signed a blank check at one time the least that can be done for them is have someone that can help guide them when they need answers. If you know someone Drop me an email I will make sure that they get the right point of contact to proceed.

Ok, the big trip of the month was down to Baltimore for the 97th National Convention for the American Legion. This years convention was great as are all of them because there is nothing better then hanging out with people that care so much about their country that they not only served but continue to serve by guiding our nations youth and leaders through community service. Yes I am passionate about the Legions mission and love hanging out and helping where I can.  I am honored to be around so many that do so much more then I could ever imagine.

Our booth for VetDogs was an interesting place to hang out this year.  Joe Dan Worley is a medically retired Navy Corpsman who was working the booth with me. Between the two of us we had people laughing and crying along with all sorts of other emotions. I thank God for the opportunity to hand out the applications we were able to and also so grateful for all those Post and Auxiliaries that have committed to making VetDogs their mission this year. Over the past few years of my time with the legion I have watch the awareness grow and the hearts of people being touched without a doubt a humbling experience. I wish that I could tell all the stories that came up over the time spent this past week but maybe some other time. In the mean time I will say that for any group or person that is looking for something to stand behind and step up to the plate with VetDogs is a great opportunity.

Thank you all for allowing me to rant again if you only knew how often during the writing today I had to wipe away the tears of joy because this past month has been just that great. On a personal note our lives are changing here at our home, our youngest has moved out on her own and our son will be married in less then 2 months. My brides medical issues have kicked up a notch and she is putting in for disability do to it. We are going to be looking at new living arraignments sooner then later and many other things will be changing. Please keep us in your prayers, everything will work out no doubt but as in everything else in life it needs to be lived.

God Bless.

If you have a moment please go check out the Veteran Portrait Project by Stacy Pearsall She does amazing work.

Now for the shameless plug to insure other Veterans have the same opportunities I have had Here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.


“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.
Delicious Ambiguity.” 
― Gilda Radner 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Floating on Air

We start out today with a picture from one of the weekend puppy raisers who had spent time with Mike. I thank them for helping to mold Mike into the amazing wonderful service dog he is today. Getting the pictures this week put tears of joy into my eyes so I figured I would share this one with you all.

For those that have been following these entries for a while this may sound a tad redundant but I have been a little busy over the past couple weeks. Let's see we had the State Department Convention for the American Legion where we accomplished a full slate of activities and elected our next years Department Command. Congratulations to Paul and all the other new officers and many prayers to a great year to come. Next up on the Legion for Post 111 is our Annual Concert on the Green which is happening 13 August, 2015 on the Green in Woodstock. The planning for this is in full swing and should be a great time for all.  Please come out and enjoy some music food and fun and help support Northeastern CT's Quiet Corner. Our Post is also of course doing the annual Woodstock Fair again this year and is looking for volunteers to man the food booth which is one of our largest fund raisers of the year. If you would like to help out in anyway we sure would love the support.

On the 9th of August, Post 91 in Moosup CT is having their annual VJ Day Parade and Mike and I will be there on the bandstand documenting it for the States Historical Records and we are looking forward to this year especially because the parade will have a number of honorees from WWII in the Parade from around the State. Please take your time and come out and help honor these Veterans who helped shape this nation in one of the only VJ parades left in this country.

Mike & I have also traveled to the Balloon Festival in RI where we had a blast with a great group of other people from the North East Truck Camper Jamboree.  That was a party inside the big event that made the not so good weather for balloons much more fun.

As always Mike is fitting into his role as the "Kent monitor & magnet to get people talking". During the Balloon Festival I was able to give out an awful lot of information and talk about how America's VetDogs is helping change veterans lives. We got to meet celebrities that were performing at the festival and just had a great time hanging out with fellow truck camping enthusiast. For those that have never tried this style camping it may be hard to understand why those of us that do it believe so strongly in it as the best way to travel and gather as a group. There is something about being so compact yet having all the features of the large RV's.

This past weekend I had the enjoyment of pulling the camera out and pushing myself to shoot an entire day of sports. Dan my son went to compete in the New Hampshire State Strongman/Strongwomen championship and I was asked if I could help document the event. It was a special honor for me since my son had just turned 24 and as he grows older I get less time with him. We got to spent 2 days together enjoying each others company which for me was such a gift. Having Mike with me to do this was such a pleasure also because his temperament was perfect for this event. This was the first time I actually was focused (I know bad pun) on picture taking and not Mike yet he stayed true to me and did not pull or attempt to guide me off course at all. Many questions were asked and as always Mike was a perfect example to the general public of what a service dog should be.

My blessing abound for sure. Up until yesterday I thought my month of August was actually going to be a tad slower then my normal pace but alas that has changed yet again. I will be heading off to the National Convention in Baltimore for the American Legion National at the end of the month. I have done this convention a few times and it is always a great time hanging out with fellow legionnaires. Tomorrow I continue the local tour with Mike when I go to Speak at the Pomfret Senior Center which asked if I would be willing to come up and share a while back. We look forward to these small gatherings as much as the large ones because I get to see how Mike touches hearts and touching hearts is what it is all about.

I can not thank everyone enough for allowing me to share and help others it is what keeps me going forward. Thank you all. Hope to see you all on the road soon.  God Bless!

 “Living well is an art that can be developed: a love of life and ability to take great pleasure from small offerings and assurance that the world owes you nothing and that every gift is exactly that, a gift. ” 
― Maya Angelou

Now for the shameless plug to insure other Veterans have the same opportunities I have had Here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Brian Pearce & Dual service dogs serving our nations veterans!

As I mentioned in my last blog entry I was going to speak with Brian and see if he would let me showcase his story. I wanted to do this to let people see a different perspective on what these dogs do and why America's VetDogs does what they do. Over time I hope to showcase a few other stories here also but Brian and I over the past yr and a half have become very good friends, some would say brothers from different mothers. His exploits and efforts before and after his injuries spotlight the kind nature and caring that makes others better just being around him. He is the person that doesn't focus on his issues but is out looking to help others get past theirs. What I call a true leader and a hero.

Brian's first dog Othello, has been diagnosed with a liver disease and has been forced into a medical retirement leaving Brian at the moment with no guide/service dog. Unlike most people who would slow down and wait till he get another dog to help him along in life Brian is still moving along at full steam ahead. He has been seen at speaking events talking about America's VetDogs and how they are in the process of training a new dog and how they handled the entire retirement process. Which by the way is an amazing story in itself. He has been out helping other veterans through the service organizations he belongs to and calls me almost daily just to check in. There is no slowing him down.

With no further ado here is Brian's story;

Prior to joining the U.S. Army, I worked as a Deputy Sheriff in Ohio for over 8 years before joining the U.S. Army in 1992 and serving until March of 2000. After leaving the Army after completing my first tour of duty, I was hired as a Police inspector for Osmose count, Ohio, followed by time as a patrolman for the Pomery Police Department and then Chief of Police, Syracuse Police Department.

In January 2004 I returned to Active Duty in the United States Army.
In 2005 I was stationed at Fort Wainwright Alaska with 172nd Striker Combat Brigade when we deployed into Iraq from August 2005 to August 2006 where my and I were sent into the Sunni Triangle.

On October 20, 2006 a road side Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded and I suffered a severe penetrating head injury. Once the blast zone was secured I was air evacuated to the field hospital in Ballad, Iraq. There I underwent an emergency craniotomy of the right occipital and posterior fossa with duraplasty retaining foreign body, and a ventriculostomy. The IED blast caused shrapnel to penetrate the right occipital lobe of the skull and although my eyes were not damaged, the brain injury itself damaged the visual pathways inside the brain cortex. This blast also caused severe TBI and cortical blindness. Later we learned it was the cause of complex visual impairments, PTSD, hearing loss, pulmonary embolism, seizure and REM sleep disorders.

I was moved to the Richmond VA Poly Trauma Medical Center in early 2007 where I spent over six years. Today I still reside in Richmond and continue TBI and Vision rehabilitation as an outpatient at the Polytrauma Center. During my rehabilitation I was fortunate enough to be supported by the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) who assisted me in being treated at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Blind Center in West Haven, Connecticut for eight weeks in October 2007. There I received training for blindness with the VA providing me with adaptive technology computer devices and training. The VA Eastern Blind Rehabilitative Center was excellent helping me go through extensive and thorough training in living skills, manual skills, orientation and mobility training, and computer training. we decided to live in this area and not move back home to Ohio. I am still married to wonderful wife Angie, and have two teenage children. 

The VA has deemed me unemployable now since my injury and it has been a long road back to this point with many twists and turns.
I now spend the bulk of my time advocating for wounded war Veterans and volunteering for charitable Guide Dog Foundation and VA TBI organizations and Families of the Wounded. This includes my service as a Board Member Virginia Brain Injury Association. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A little time in nature!

So last entry I updated everyone on some recent trips around CT and New England. Of course being the slow and retired person I am I had to take a rest from all of that activity so I finally talked the wife into a trip up into the New Hampshire State Parks for a few nights of Loon therapy.

Before we could do that though we had to get through our great nations birthday. My American Legion Post 111 out of Woodstock, CT takes part in the East Woodstock 4th of July Jamboree. The Post is the Color Guard for the annual event leading the parade off so Mike and I had an opportunity to march with the other members of Post 111. It was a great time had by all with lots of food and music some would say a perfect old time classic Americana town party. I look forward to many more and hope that the citizens enjoyed seeing and hearing about Mike in my talking to people while mingling during the day.

Sunday Morning My wife Mike and myself got up and moving to a beautiful day, where we finished the final loading and jumped in the truck camper to head North to Pillsbury State Park. This is one of the best kept little gems in the New Hampshire State park system. The day after the 4th of July on a holiday weekend you would expect to find the park packed just like almost every other campground in New England yet when we pulled in we found that in our loop there were 3 other campsites taken. Because it is a rustic gem, the park rangers shed does not even sport electricity only a rotary dial telephone. Our site was bustled up against the "pond" more like a lake in CT standards but who knows how the naming of these things are done.

We did not see our first person for the first couple hours and had a great opportunity to relax and unwind after allowing Google Maps take us on a different route then I would normally have taken. To say it was a much bumpier ride would be putting it mildly. I think Google was looking for every possible road construction and side road they could run us down. Needless to say I used my internal map to get home and it was a much smoother ride and quicker to boot. So much for getting detoured ;) back to the campground festivities. When our nearest campers did show up they were very friendly folk who we found out had been staying there since fathers day. The gentleman was a Vietnam Vet who had his other half with him and they both had so many questions about Mike.

Questions about Mike never cease to amaze me and I have learned so much more now that I have been back through the VetDogs class a second time. Yes I guess I truly am a slow learner. I am so grateful that I have the video's that I shared a few weeks ago in the blog because it makes it so much easier to explain in order exactly what Mike is capable of. Once someone see's the video's then the conversations really get going and invariably someone knows someone or as in this case the Veteran I was talking to himself may end up putting in an application for a dog. His other half also had a father who was a Veteran that is legally blind and has mobility issues and may be a candidate for a dual purpose dog.

Having been involved with other Veterans such as Brian Pearce, who I have seen (yes I am sure there is a pun in there somewhere) use the dual purpose dog to give him his life back by both help him in the guiding areas and service areas. Watching him grow and now get ready to move on to his second dog due to his first one having an illness has proven that the sight and insight the dogs are able to pass on to us the users is amazing. If you all have never read Brian's Story I will ask if I can share it here in a special edition. It is an amazing story and gave me the ability to speak with confidence to this young lady at the campground about her father. To watch her eyes light up with the potential of hope finally after watching her father slide into depression over the loss of his site and mobility was wonderful and it was Brian's story that I was able to share that made that happen.

There are so many other great hero's that I have been blessed to meet in my travels while speaking about how these dogs change lives I hope that I have a chance to share more with all of you. Over the next few weeks Mike and I will be a tad busy. We have the CT State American Legion Convention going on This weekend and next week another trip to New Hampshire early in the week. Later in the week I have something I have been looking forward to for a few months now as a Photographer, the South County Balloon Festival. How many people are willing to wager on me talking to a couple people about service dogs and veteran issues?

Alright time to sign off for now hope everyone has a great week and always remember follow your dream.

 “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” 
― Howard Thurman

Now for the shameless plug to insure other Veterans have the same opportunities I have had Here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Mike hit's the Speaking Circuit

Mike has officially become a star over night. He awes groups in no time with his ability to stay on task and do it ever so naturally that people have trouble believing that this gentle giant (still growing) is only 18 months old. On Tuesday we were in Boston roaming the streets and Mike truly seemed to enjoy the crowds around Faneuil Hall area with all the noise and commercialism that is that part of town. 

BlackRock Financial was the organization that hosted us that day and what a time for Mike to Shine. I had been to visit them before when I had Iris still and they were all very happy to hear that Iris is enjoying her retirement and that Mike has taken over the duties of taking care of me. One of the things they liked was the fact that I was able to show them what the final outcome of the puppy raising programs in MA is all about.  With Mike being a Prison Grad from Framingham MCI and their close proximity to Framingham they have had previous workers at BlackRock that have been involved in the puppy raising program so seeing Mike as a graduate allows them to see full circle how the love put into the puppies translates into saving veterans lives.

Now for the shameless plug to insure other Veterans have the same opportunities I have had Here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

All in all it was a very good time for Mike and I being able to educate and show off some of Mike amazing skills also. One thing I have learned with Mike is to be more open about many of the task that Mike does which gives him the opportunity to train (never pass up a real life training scenario). With Iris I was always doing my training in private which in the long run also meant the training did not happen often due to my nervousness. Now I take all opportunities that I can to show off Mikes skill which also give him the chance to perform his task. To him it is part of staying on task.

Wed this week we were asked to stop in to a local radio show where we did a short 10 minute or so interview. Lucky for us Lee Elci is a friend and it was a very comfortable interview for both of us so it came across as very laid back. Press the  Click Here to listen to the interview it should open in a new window. You will hear at the end of the interview we do a impromptu play by play where I go to the floor and feign passing out and even though Mike is enjoying a new bone that Lee had given to him, he jumps right into action and immediately pulls my alarm. I will point out that because this was a radio interview and I did not think a long period of dead air was good for the show I did not give Mike much time to lay down next to me. I am sure that he would have laid down if I had not so quickly turned the alarm off and started talking to Lee.
All of these speaking and Interviews are done to help raise awareness about the VetDogs program and also help other veterans understand that there are such programs out there to help if there is a need. I was blessed with just such a situation this week where I was able to go and speak to a Vietnam era veteran who has parkinson's but is still self sufficient. He did not know that he could potentially be a candidate for a service dog nor did he have a clue how to go about starting the process of getting one. Thank God he has a friend who called me and we rode out to his place on the other side of the state and spent a few hours just talking about what having a dog is like and whether it could be for him. Before we headed back home we were able to make the call to America's VetDogs and start him on his way with the application process. Now he won't get a dog in a few weeks but at least he won't be alone in the process and he has hope which is what it takes to stop that god awful suicide number that our veteran population has associated with it today.

So my call to action this week for anyone willing to take the time and put in some effort is to reach out to any of your veteran friends and make sure they know if they need anything there are people and places that can help them get it. If you don't know the answer call me or another veteran who is involved with any of our Veteran groups like the American Legion or the VFW but do something. All it takes is someone showing they care to save a life. Let it begin with you!
Also remember to give generously to help support America's VetDogs if you can.

Now for the shameless plug to insure other Veterans have the same opportunities I have had Here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Special Edition "How does Mike do his Job?"

On request I am going to attempt to put together a simple (maybe not so simple) explanation of the ins and outs of how Mike does his job. The reason I am doing this is America's VetDogs posted a picture today of Mike pulling the alarm on my belt. I did not know that they had done this and I started getting messages asking about the alarms and what they did and who paid for them and so on. Of course not knowing the context of the questions I was answering as best as I could until it was pointed out by a friend that there was a picture posted.

Once that happened I understood and realized I had done a very poor job up till that point in explaining things in a comprehensive manner. So lets start by first explaining the gear Mike has to use for his Job

1. There is a belt alarm. This alarm makes a loud noise but does not actually call anyone.
2. There is a Home alarm that is in the same place all the time. This is a wireless alarm that connects to my phone line and dials 911 directly.

3. There is a Traveling button that I either wear on my belt next to the pull alarm that Mike pulls or it gets put into another device similar to the home alarm but it goes to an alarm service that I pay for at the moment.

4. Mike has his Vest that he wears, He has his Camo vest for daily wear and then I also have a Tan vest that he has which I have deemed his dress wear. (I figured after years in the military if I had to have regular and dress wear why should this guy be any different?)

5. I use a Shoulder harness leash because I personally have a messed up vertebrae from those great PFL's I used to do after jumping out of perfectly good airplanes (so I have been told).

Now for the shameless plug to insure other Veterans have the same opportunities I have had Here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

Now lets dive into explanations. The easiest way to start is to start with showing the video of Mike in the Mall when we were training an outside the home event. During this event I feign passing out (yes I know I go out like a little girl but...) and with no prompting Mike has to locate the pull tab on my personal belt alarm and pull it. Once he locates and pulls it he is trained to lay down by my side and wait till I either come out of the event or medical people come and take charge. With this in mind I do wear a second button by Great Call which is a service I pay for right next to the pull alarm that Mike pulls. There is a note on it now that say in case of emergency press button. This service not only will contact a local 911 provider based on the GPS location but will also let the emergency responders know my medical conditions and medications. I felt this added value was well worth my health and a good addition if ever needed. Just in case anyone wonders I actually had this service with my first service dog Iris also who would bark to draw attention instead of pulling the alarm like Mike does.

Ok The second Task/Alarm is the in home alarm. The video was also done while in training at the America's VetDogs Facility and it is using the direct line button but you can use you imagination that the second button that I showed a picture of above works in the same way. The only difference is that the second button is portable and goes with me into the RV when I travel. It also goes to the Great Call Service instead of directly to 911. We use the home button while at home because if I go out my local 911 providers understand that a call without any human response means that my service dog has pressed the button. This has been pre-arraigned with them and they will send emergency providers without speaking to someone because of that. With the second button we designed that has the great call button in it they also understand that if they get a call without a response that more then likely Mike has activated the button and they will locate me via GPS and send emergency crews to wherever we are.

As you can tell we have taken some serious time to make sure that we have covered all the bases and allowed Mike my service dog the best chance of saving my life.

Now that we have discussed the life saving portions of his job lets talk about his job of helping to wake me if I have a nightmare or am having issues with my sleep. The third Video is again taken while in training at America's VetDogs facility. Mike has been trained to react to my bedtime activity and if I appear to be in a state of unrest he will pull my covers off. He does this so as not to startle me and cause me to come flying out of the bed in a state of panic but yet will still wake me. It is a very gentle but effective manner of waking a person I have found out.  Originally I didn't think it would wake me at all.  Now that he has done it a few times I will be honest with you it is a very effective and nice way without having to shock me awake. For Mike it is all in a day or in this case a nights work and he really does seem to enjoy waking me.

Those are the main task that he does for me that I have videos of. Some of the other things he does for me that I don't have video of would be the picking things up and bringing them to me. As I mentioned I have neck and back issues so bending can be a real pain in the (yes you guessed it) bottom. He will pick up pretty much anything he can get his mouth around and bring it to me on command. So far we practice on a regular basis with all sorts of things and he has even started learning what a remote is. Yes one of the greatest things about this past class at America's VetDogs is that they taught us the user how the training process happens so we can teach task we want the dog to learn. So since my kids have both decided to grow up and are no longer home I figured I would train Mike to bring me the remote. (Like I could ever get the kids to do it anyhow) Mike is also always by my side for those times when my balance my be a tad off and I need to have a touchstone there he is.

I hope that these videos and my explainations have helped to shed light on how and why having a seizure alert dog is so important and also how

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Settling In

Here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

I want to take a moment and say thank you to everyone who helps me in so many ways. I could not make this journey of living without everyone that I come in contact with. This week I had the pleasure of getting out without any commitments and just relax. After reading two books completely through and sleeping in I feel completely rested and ready to start back up.

I want to give special thanks to my Sister Liz Burnell for these pictures of Mike and I, she came out and took.

One of the Projects I have wanted to take on for a longtime that I have finally started was an awareness project pushing this government of ours to possibly change the current ADA laws in the way they pertain to Service Dogs. Having had bad experiences out in public due to people using fake Service Dogs because of the loop holes in the way the laws are written I am hoping to get a national central certification authority to issue a card or something that will work and help stem the number of posers out there.  Here is the Link on FaceBook please pass it out I would love to get a spirited debate going there.

From the number of responses that I have already seen from the disabled community I have a feeling it is going to be a tough road to fight just to get people to get on board with changing the ADA. I have a FaceBook page setup to spur a debate in hopes to create some common ground for people and maybe ultimately come up with a workable solution. Nothing when dealing with the government is ever easy, I understand that and I am not a lawyer so my views may be overly simplistic when looking at the law. What I do know is that America is a great country that when enough people come together for something that is right can make anything happen.

What I am trying to do is not take away civil rights that our disabled citizen fought hard to achieve but I do want to make those rights something that don't become a laughing stock of our community. Laws that are not enforceable or even able to understood well enough by law enforcement do not really do our disabled a service.  So at this point I know what I would love to see is a National ID Card something like a Drivers License or like the Disabled Parking Placard issued with a doctors order.

I would also like to see some sort of standardized testing similar to the ADI Public Access Test for the team to prove it has met the standards of a working team. I understand that there are many out there that seem to think this is way overboard and unnecessary but having had my first service dog retired earlier then her years would have had her normally retire I feel I am not asking to much. The cost of a fully trained service dog is priceless in the hands of the disabled persons eye (mine at least) $50,000 is the going number quoted by most of the major service dog and guide dog schools. That cost is an astronomical dollar amount to someone that is most likely on a fixed budget so a bit of preventative legislation that could put some teeth to the laws and keep those fake dogs from cruising the isles is worth any time taken to show a simple ID in my opinion.

We require licensing to drive cars and to do so many other things in this country why is it such a major issue to require an ID for the use of a Service Dog? In most cases the ID will only be asked for when traveling to a strange place local merchants that we frequent often will know who we are and will not ask for a card more then once. When we travel via air or boat we know that an ID is required even if we are not Disabled so having the ID out and ready is not any more of a hassle and will again fix the fake issue simply. The issues of having to explain disabilities will go away because the doctors note/script used to gain the ID will have taken care of the question and will be a moot point.

Hopefully this Blog and my continued work on FB and in the legal system will make a difference. Please take a moment to weigh in on this subject. My single voice is never going to be enough to effect a change but if each person that reads and responds then passes this on does something who knows maybe we can make a positive change. Thank you all again and God Bless.