So what have we been doing? Well Iris and I did the trip to Annapolis, MD for the VetDogs 5K where the runners and walkers were tortured into listening to me instead of having their pictures taken by me this year. Lucky for them I understood that they were there to support America's VetDogs first and foremost and run/walk secondly not listen to this windbag spout off so I kept it short. Of course I have so many great things to say about VetDogs and their helping me prepare to transition to a new pup over this last year that I could not keep it completely quiet. The Run this year was a complete success adding a 10k component that brought out a new group of runners that felt the need to challenge themselves even more. (Personally I have not seen the need to run since being retired from Uncle Sam's Army, nor would my doctors approve of my even attempting to.)
I am not sure of the final dollars amounts raised this year but I remember hearing amounts in the 50k range being past around the field area so I will say the event was a grand success. Moving the event to the Kent County HS allowed for a much more open area and a more relaxed atmosphere for all involved. Other then the wind blowing a few tents down (which for some reason our direct line to the man upstairs was not quite 100% in tune) there was not a single weather or facility related complaint.
Onward and upward and by that I mean long flights and lots of travel time getting Iris and myself out to Kalispell, MT where we were able to spend some time with the founders of the V.E.T.S. Ranch project and speak to the Whitefish Rotary. This project is coming along wonderfully and will be a great way for the community and veterans to interact while healing from injuries like TBI's and PTSD. If the reaction from the Whitefish, MT Rotary International group is any indication that community in the Glacier Area is an amazing bunch of Americans that really want to help our nations heres out. I can't wait to see this ranch up in full swing changing lives in much the same way that my life has been changed with Iris and now my new puppy (who will remain nameless at this point until all the donors and puppy raisers have been notified that he has been placed).
When I said that Iris and I had been busy I was not kidding. We took off from CT on Monday morning at 0400 and landed back in CT at 0100 on Thursday. That same day at 6pm Iris and I were at the Enfield Correctional Facility for the 1st ever puppy graduation of a future Service Dog into his advanced training phase back at the Foundation. Thank God for great friends, Michael, who drove me so I did not end up killing anyone because of being to tired to drive. I will admit to being very emotional at this prison visit because I have been blessed to have been a part of the program since it's inception and to see the first puppy going back to the foundation ready to be trained then hopefully paired with a veteran is just wonderful. The other side of the visit that for me personally bittersweet was the fact that this was the last presentation Iris and I would ever do together as a team. I have to admit the first few moments I was speechless which for those that know me is something that doesn't happen often. WFSB covered the graduation for those that would like to see their snippet follow this link. http://www.wfsb.com/story/29070776/enfield-inmates-help-train-dogs-for-veterans
I know I have been very wordy this week and I will end now by letting everyone know that Iris is loving her time at my Son's with his Fiancé she may never want to come home which is perfectly fine if she would prefer to not share a home with the new pup. She will always be part of the family and down the road if that is what she prefers. At the moment the plan is for her to come back to the house though after the new pup has gotten acquainted and established his routines.
I am currently down in NY at the Foundation and have met and am training with my new service dog. He is amazing and I can not wait to share pictures with all of you. Pictures have been taken and more will follow of course. I have another two weeks here and am in heaven loving the time with the trainers who as always are the best along with the staffers who seem to always want to do something for you overtime you turn a corner. My opinion of this organization continues to grow as I watch new veterans with there dogs for the first time come out of their shells. Thank you all for your prayers.