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Tails from the Front Line

Official Blog of Guardian Angels for Soldier's Pet

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Personal Story

Meet One Fantastic Foster Home – Kim and Tim

“Let it be known that the accompanying flag was flown in the face of the enemy over Camp Dwyer in the Helman Province of Afghanistan on 8 April 2011 in honor of Kim and Tim.”

FlagandCert

Captain Dave, a Chaplin in the Navy, presented the flag pictured above to Kim and Tim to show them just how much it meant to him for them to foster his beloved dog Rye.  A certificate accompanied the flag, part of which is quoted above.  Usually these flags are reserved for close friends and family members yet Captain Dave flew this flag in Kim and Tim’s honor even though he had never met them.

And Rye is just one of the 9 dogs that this couple has fostered since 2010.  Kim works on the Navy base at Point Mugo (pronounced Magoo) in California and wanted to somehow give back to the men and woman she saw heading off to war.  With that goal in mind Kim began looking for ways to help.  By chance Kim saw a reunion story on TV while on a layover at an airport.  Once home she googled it and found Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet ©.  Since she and her husband Tim love dogs she felt it was a perfect match.

According to Kim, “People are always saying, ‘I want to support our troops’ and this is a real tangible way to see it right in front of you how you’re helping.”  She went on to say, “On our end it doesn’t seem like that much of an effort but on their end they’re so thankful.”

Tim and Kim haven’t always had the traditional foster experience.  Of the 8 families that they’ve helped in 5 years they’ve only had 2 meet and greets.  They’ve taken in dogs that didn’t work out in other homes, dogs that, because of their breed nobody else wanted to foster and last minute emergency placements.  They’ve never refused a dog and for GAfSP that’s a Godsend!

Miles was the next dog that Tim and Kim fostered and being a Husky many people didn’t want to take him in.  His dad, Petty Officer 1st class, Jamaine, a Navy EAG (Weatherman) who was being deployed to the Middle East for 9 months was a little weary about who would be fostering his baby while he was gone.  In fact Jamaine had checked out other places that foster military member’s dogs and he wasn’t happy with any of them, then he found Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet.  A meet and greet was set up and Jamaine felt a weight lifted off his shoulders after meeting with Tim, Kim and their dogs.
“They were enthusiastic about even taking my dog and they didn’t know me, they didn’t know my dog.”  Still he said, “In the beginning it’s hard.  I love my dog tremendously.  He’s like my best friend. Like all parents you always have the thought in the back of your mind that I hope he’s okay, I hope nothing happens.”   About 2 weeks into his deployment Jamaine received a letter with pictures enclosed and that again put his mind at ease.

 Miles lounging with foster dad Tim in recliner
Miles lounging with foster dad Tim in recline
GASP Tim with Miles and other dogs 3
Foster dad Tim with Cayenne, Max, Miles (foster) and Dakota

                                   “They went above and beyond to keep me informed, even to reach out to me to make sure that I was okay. I was confident that he (Miles) was in good hands after that first letter.”

Each person Kim has fostered for always had the same concern.  “When they’re gonna be deployed for 6, 9, 12 months they always ask, ‘Do you think they’re going to remember me?’ and I always tell them. ‘I promise they’re going to remember you.’”

Kim, always thinking of ways to put the dog owners at ease, began to create Facebook pages for each dog.  When I asked her what she posts she told me, “I try to be silly and kind of a theme of what’s going on.”

For Christmas Kim tried to have Miles wear a santa hat but since he refused on the grounds of looking stupid she put it on Dakota instead.

GASP Miles and Dakota Christmas
Dakota in santa hat/Miles laughing

One of her most popular Facebook pages is called “The Adventures of Mr. Tyson”.  Tyson, an American Bulldog, is a regular at Kim and Tim’s Doggie Inn.  His dad, Carl, a Naval Flight Officer, had to travel frequently for a few a few weeks at a time to a training facility so Tyson would go to his home away from home.  Carl is now deployed so Tyson is on an extended stay at the Inn.

Tyson is happy to dress up for his dad and anybody else who enjoys checking out his exploits on his Facebook page.  During one deployment Kim actually had a family member buy a Michigan University t-shirt for Tyson to wear because his dad is an alumni.  Being football season Kim and Tim wanted his dad to know that Tyson was cheering the Wolverines on for him in his absence.

GASP dog Tyson
Tyson as a Michigan Wolverine fan
GASP Tyson as sailor for Halloween
Tyson trick or treats as a sailor in honor of his seaman dad

For Jamaine, Miles’ Facebook page meant the world to him.  “It was very important…I’m a little choked up by it cause I’m just thinking of all the stuff that happened over there on that deployment and how a friendship and a bond was built just off of watching a dog to what it is now.”  (The friendship).

Kim put it this way. “Like I said they truly do become like family.”  Besides visiting with Father Dave in New York Kim and Tim have gone camping in the Sierra’s with Jamaine and Miles.  She also said, “We have little mini dog reunions.”

GASP Miles his girlfriend and his dad camping in Sierra's with the Peppi's. small
Jamaine with Miles and Dakota, one of Kim and Tim’s dogs in the Sierras

To date Kim and Tim have fostered:  Rye, Miles, Jessie, Bella, Ranger, Tyson, Ninia, Bronx and Chief.  Many of the foster dog visits have over lapped making sure that Kim and Tim’s doggie inn stays full.  (They have 3 dogs of their own.)  “Our 3 dogs have been very welcoming and thankfully the foster dogs have been just as welcoming of each other.”

I asked Kim if it was ever hard when it came time to give any of the dogs back.  “I think the first one Rye, just because it was our first time and I wasn’t really prepared and I knew they were going to be moving back to New York so I might not ever be seeing him again.  So I think I remember crying the whole day.”

She needn’t have worried though since upon his return Tim and Kim became good friends with Father Dave and have even vacationed with him.   When they visited Father Dave in Buffalo, New York he told me, “As soon as Rye heard her voice he was all over her.”

Still it’s not the same greeting that the dog’s parents get upon their return home.  When asked how Rye reacted to seeing him he said, “It was great.  He actually stole my marine corp hat.  As soon as I got in the door he knocked me down and took the hat and tore it to shreds didn’t you?  He still has that hat.”  I could tell just how much Rye means to Father Dave because he kept talking to the dog during our interview.  Somehow I think Rye understood what he was saying.

RyeandFatherDave
Rye and Father Dave reunite

Kim admits “You think the dogs are very happy around you playing and stuff, but there’s like a whole other level when they see their mom or dad when they get home.  It’s like ‘see ya, thank you’.”

Besides giving the dogs a happy home while their parents are away Kim and Tim make sure that the service members return home is a special one.   They have signs made and bring the dog out from behind the house for the reunion.  All the while they have a camera ready to capture the joyous occasion.

GASP Miles welcomes home dad
Jamaine reunites with Miles

Some of the military pet parents have done special things for Kim and Tim, although it certainly isn’t necessary or expected.

“Miles’ dad invited us to sail with him on the last leg of their tour on the USS Stennis.  We got to ride on the aircraft carrier pulling into Bremerton.”

GASP Miles foster parents on Tiger Cruise
Kim in bright orange and Tim in the green aboard the USS Stennis

                           

 

Another special surprise was when Tyson’s dad, Carl, brought his mom to visit.  “His mom came out this summer and he even brought his mom over to meet us and his mom just lost it.  She started crying and thanking us for giving her son peace of mind. I met her and then I had to go to work and I looked like crap because I’m all puffy eyed and like darn it I wasn’t going to cry and then you cry.”

Kim and Tim feel honored to be able to help out members of the military in a way that is special to them.  And the best part is seeing the reactions of the pet owner when they are reunited with their pet.

Jamiaine; “Coming back it was like getting my child back after being gone so long.  They had a banner with welcome home Dad, that was great and then to get my companion back was emotional.  I was happy.”

GASP Welcome Home Jaimine

As for his feeling for Kim and Tim? “We have a friendship but I respect them so much above that it’s hard…for me it’s hard to put into words how much I appreciate and adore and respect and admire them for the work they do, for the contributions they make.  Even keeping in contact with me to make sure that I’m okay is something that I didn’t expect.  I’ve grown to respect and love them as if they’re my family. I’d like to thank Guardian Angels just for building an organization like this because military people are concerned with where their pets are gonna be and how their gonna be taken care of.”

Father Dave shares Jamaine’s sentiments.  “I’ve very grateful for what they did.  It was wonderful for them to volunteer to do that and it certainly took a load off my mind that I didn’t have to worry about the dog being cared for.” As for Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet? “It’s a great organization, you know I don’t know what I would have done without them.”

Kim and Tim said they will continue to foster dogs as long as there is a need.  “Just giving them their peace of mind…it’s a good feeling.”

GASP Two fosters Rye and Miles in Tim and Kims backyard with their dogs
Rye (foster), Cayenne, Miles (foster) and Dakota

    

GASP Tyson and posse
Max, Dakota, Tyson (foster), Cayenne and Chief (foster)

   

 

 

 

 

 

I’d like to thank Kim and Tim on behalf of Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet for opening their home to so many dogs and for going above and beyond to put each service member’s mind at ease while they are fighting for our freedom!

I’d also like to congratulate them on their 5th anniversary with Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet.  November 20th, 2010 was the day that Rye arrived as their first foster dog.

Thank You Kim and Tim!

 

Article Written by Laurie Sickles

A Homeless Veteran and His Best Friend Zeus

How many of you adore your dog and treat him as if he were your child? I know I do. I talk to him, I feed him, I walk him, I hug him and I generally spoil him rotten. In return he follows me wherever I go, he licks my face, sleeps next to me, protects me and loves me unconditionally.
Now imagine that you have to decide whether to give your dog up or become homeless to keep him? How many of you would choose homelessness?

Zeus vet story 4
Zeus

For veteran Airman, Clarence, the answer was clear. Go homeless. He would not leave Zeus behind no matter what. “We’d been together for 8 or 9 years and basically he’s the only friend I got.”

Clarence had fallen on hard times after being injured on the job as a corrections officer. “I got injured in Lebanon prison. I was a CO (corrections officer) up there for a couple of years and I got into a fight in a phone booth with an inmate. And what happened when I came out? I got two vertebrae’s touching a nerve and I got another chipped vertebrae.”

Despite being unable to return to work Clarence was denied disability. “If I get in an accident or if I slip and fall I could be paralyzed for the rest of my life.”

After losing most of his income Clarence moved in with his sister for a short time, but she wasn’t allowed to have dogs in her apartment so he eventually got kicked out. “We stayed down the street in an open field in a tent for a couple of days.”

Clarence had been working with Gentry, a case worker with the Veteran’s Affairs office so he gave him a call. “I told him what was going on and he hooked me up with you and Martha and a few other people. And we put him (Zeus) in a kennel for a while.”

It was Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet© (GAfSP) that had put Zeus up in the kennel until they could find a foster home for Zeus. While he was there, GAfSP paid not only for the boarding fee but they also paid for Zeus to be neutered and to have a microchip.

Victoria S., the Northeast Regional Director, put Jamie M., the Pennsylvania Foster Coordination Liaison in charge of finding Zeus a foster home. According to Jamie, “It was fairly urgent that we got him (Zeus) out of there just for the cost and for Zeus’s well-being. Unfortunately Clarence thought Zeus needed to be an only pet so that limited our search. It was even harder in that a lot of people shy away from Akitas.”

And so the search began. “So I called I think every single person in the Ohio workbook. I reached out to VA’s I reached out to VFW’s American Legion, you know, all types of veteran organizations in Ohio. I sent out flyers.” Jamie got a couple of responses but each family already had other pets. “I opened up the search to Pennsylvania as well as New Jersey and I thought that if we found the perfect place we’d figure out how to get Zeus to his home.”

According to Jamie, “It wasn’t just me. I had an army of people.” Some of those most involved include Liz D., the New York Foster Coordination Liaison, Victoria S., the Northeast Regional Director, Jamie even recruited her mom and dad into helping.

Putting the word out finally paid off when a friend of Jamie’s recommended a friend of his who was a veteran himself who loved dogs. Thinking this was the ideal solution Jaime sent her husband, David, to Dayton, Ohio, to pick up Zeus while she went to do a home visit. What she discovered was shocking. “It turned out that he was a hoarder and there was not even one path through his rooms, he lived alone and things just unfortunately got out of hand. So I was panicking. I would not leave my dog there; it was dangerous. It was dangerous even for him (the hoarder) and I didn’t feel comfortable.”

Meanwhile David was almost to Columbus and thankfully Jamie’s father lived there so David was able to put his trip on hold and stay the night in Columbus. Once again Jamie was in a panic. “I called everybody I knew, every single dog person I knew…got the word out there because we needed a home right away.” Luckily Jamie found a woman in New Jersey who had just signed up to be a foster and although she wasn’t 100% comfortable at first knowing that Zeus was such a large dog, she finally came around when Jamie explained that Zeus was an older dog and he was a big teddy bear and a couch potato. For the first time in a long time Jamie was finally able to sleep easy without worrying about where Zeus would go.

photo 2
Clarence, Zeus and David

“So I called my husband and said instead of coming back home with him you’re going to Cape May, New Jersey with Zeus. He said yup that’s fine.” About an hour later disaster would strike once again. “Like an hour later I get a call from the woman in Cape May in tears.” It turns out she lives in a community where they can’t have dogs that weigh over 50 pounds. “So at that point we’re back to square one and Zeus is in the truck.”
Jamie immediately began calling more people in her Pennsylvania workbook including calling people that had pets. With little hope of finding a home that would work, Jamie made one more call to a woman named Martha. “She’s a brilliant doctor that does a lot of volunteering with different humane societies and her local shelters. She has horses and goats and dogs and cats and I said no way it’s gonna work there and she said yea drop him off it’s fine. She (Martha) just stepped up, like there was no thought involved. I told her this whole desperate story and she was like yea drop him off, no big deal. Like “well” you don’t understand he’s an Akita. Yea that’s fine. You don’t understand he’s 8 and he doesn’t get along with anybody. Yup that’ll work.” So once again Jamie called her husband and had him change directions. He was now headed away from New Jersey and toward Pennsylvania.

Zeus finally arrived at his new foster home and the big test was going to be seeing how he would get along with all of the various animals that lived on Martha’s farm. As Martha so eloquently put it, “I knew it was a big risk because I didn’t know anything about this dog because he’s big and potentially he could have eaten me and eaten everybody else here but he was a lovely dog.” (I have to say I was relieved to hear that Zeus didn’t eat anybody or any of the animals at Martha’s farm!)

Back in Dayton, Clarence tried not to worry about Zeus as he moved into transitional housing at Volunteers of America. He was working at Kroger as a greeter and saving up money so that he could get back into an apartment or house where he could keep Zeus. He would periodically make calls to Martha to check on Zeus and they would exchange emails, but he said it was emotionally difficult to have Zeus so far away.

But despite missing Zeus, Clarence needn’t have worried about Zeus’s care. Martha was making sure that all of his veterinary needs were taken care of and he had plenty of pals to play with. “He (Zeus) and the goat and sheep played a lot. The sheep and goat would chase him and then he’d chase them.” Zeus was also a gentleman when it came to the chickens, horses, cats and other dogs. According to Martha, “He was probably the best trained dog that I’ve ever had. So even though he was huge he was very nice which made it much easier.”

Jamie also stayed in contact with Martha and made sure to send her heart-worm and any other supplies she needed.

Zeus vet story
Gentry, Clarence and David at the Volunteers of America

What was originally supposed to be a 4 month stay turned into 10 months. But eventually the day came to take Zeus back home and Jamie was determined to get him there. “So finally when he got an apartment, I thought, whatever we need to do to get Zeus back home let’s do it and Martha’s like I’ll drive him out, no big deal. And she did. She drove him 5 hours one way and met him, did the whole reunion thing, drove back all in one day. She is awesome.”

Martha told me that she wanted to drive Zeus home. She wanted to meet Clarence and let him know about some health issues that he (Zeus) developed and make sure he had food and any other items he might need.

When she arrived she said, “I was like totally excited and just almost in tears when I saw he had a lovely quiet little cottage with a little nice yard around it and trees and, oh my gosh, Clarence is a wonderful man, beautiful man.”

When Zeus got out of the car Martha said, “He just jumped on Clarence’s shoulders, put his paws up there and danced around at his feet!” After that she jokingly said he was so excited he had to stop and do his business! Clarence described his reunion like this. “I thought it was great! A week later I became a granddad for the first time and it’s kind of like the same experience.”

Martha and Clarence both experienced something special from this arrangement. Clarence said of Martha, “Can’t ask for a better friend and I just don’t really know why people do things for you like that; it’s just amazing.”

But Martha shared a mutual respect for Clarence. “He’s a real gentleman, nice guy, and I really was just amazed and thankful that everything’s gonna…I think he’ll be okay.”

As for Jamie, she still keeps in touch with Clarence to make sure he’s doing well. She has even helped Clarence with some vet bills for Zeus when he didn’t have the money because he’d just paid his rent. She told Clarence, “I don’t want you to have to worry about giving him up again because of some silly $200.00 thing.” She added, “It’s Clarence’s dog, he’s had him since he was a puppy. They need each other at this point.”

Clarence says he will be forever grateful to Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet, Martha and Jamie. “It kept me from losing him (Zeus) and we reunited and I’m passing the word on to other people at the VA.”

I would like to personally congratulate Jamie, her husband David, Victoria, Liz and all of those who assisted Jamie in getting the word out, Martha and Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet for a job well done and giving Airman Clarence and Zeus their happily ever after!
And to Clarence, God bless you for serving our great country!

 

Article Written by Laurie Sickles

Jumping in Head First

As a new volunteer for Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet© (GAfSP) I thought I’d wade in the water slowly just getting my feet wet. But as soon as I realized how over-worked some of the truly devoted, long time volunteers were I “volunteered” to help out. I didn’t mind the extra responsibilities. In fact I began to feel like I had a purpose in life again. You see I hadn’t been working for a few years and I wasn’t feeling very useful. Hence, finding a group that I was passionate about and volunteering. Little did I know that I would soon be jumping into the deep end head first! I was given the task of finding a foster home for two dogs belonging to Airman Mary.   Mary’s deployment was short term so I figured how hard can it be to find a foster home for her dogs for such a short tour? You guessed it…much harder than I thought!

Rob Laurie Nico and Remi
Laurie, her husband and their two dogs

Airman Mary was based out of New Jersey so I began calling all of the foster homes listed in New Jersey whose circumstances seemed to be compatible with caring for Tully and Kona. Hours went by, my fingers were sore from dialing the phone, my ear was numb from having the phone pressed so tightly against my head and I was going cross-eyed trying to read each number that I dialed. After two days of frantically making calls I was in full panic mode! And that’s where the beauty of working for such a great organization as GAfSP comes in. I reached out for help and people came running. I was thrown a life preserver from two wonderful women. Victoria S., Northeast Region Director and Jaime M., Foster Home Coordinator for Pennsylvania. With their help I was able to keep afloat while continuing my search. I never did find anybody in New Jersey to foster Tully and Kona. But since Mary’s base was close to Pennsylvania I was able to begin dialing away on the Pennsylvania foster home list provided to me by Jaime. With so many more possibilities I once again believed that this would be an easy task. But Noooo. As my grip began to slip off of the life preserver and I was starting to drown I got another small life line. It was suggested that I send out an urgent, mass e-mail to foster homes in both states. It was a pain staking process because I had to manually copy and paste each e-mail address from the state lists that had been compiled over time. But once I was finished I sent out the e-mail and then all I could do was pray! Finally I was sent a giant life boat! Not one of the approved foster homes stepped forward but some kind soul did forward my e-mail message to a friend and that woman e-mailed me saying she wanted to help. I wanted to jump through the phone and hug her when I called to talk to her. She would have to be rushed through the screening process and approved at warp speed. (Thank you Linda and Jaime.) Once again members of GAfSP stepped up to the plate and made sure that our new recruit got approval just in time for her to meet up with Mary, Kona and Tully. The Guardian Angels were watching over Mary and her dogs that day because the home was a perfect fit for Kona and Tully. Mary loved the woman who had so graciously opened her doors to care for her furbabies and the woman loved Tully and Kona and felt blessed to be able to help out someone who was serving our great country. This for me was the gratification I was seeking. Despite getting drenched, in the long run, my efforts paid off and I felt a tremendous sense of satisfaction that I too had helped out a person serving our country.

Many more Foster Home Coordinators are still needed! Please check out the states that have been defined as needing help the most.

Note: Airman’s name has been changed due to OPSEC guidelines.

– Article written by Laurie Sickles. 

Nancy Emma: How Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet gave her peace of mind

Nancy Emma, who now serves on the board of directors for Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet, was once a recipient of the organization’s programs.

Snowball

According to Nancy, a Major in the Army at the time, she was on her second tour in Afghanistan when she was notified that her dogs were being abused by their caretaker.  “She’d keep them caged up all day, go overnight with some guy.”  Upset and furious Nancy began looking for help right away.   “I had to do a lot of research.  I didn’t know about Guardian Angels back then. I e-mailed everybody in the world.”  Shortly after sending out her e-mail, a friend of hers back on base in Fort Hood, TX gave her Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet name.  Nancy contacted the organization explaining the situation and was elated by the response she got.  “Within two days, somebody was at my house to get the dogs.”  Pedro, Loretta and Snowball were immediately placed in foster homes approved by Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet.  Snowball was eventually taken in by Linda Spurlin-Dominik, CEO, herself.

When asked how she felt once her dogs were safe Nancy said, “I was truly relieved.  Happy.”  Another benefit of fostering with the organization was the contact she received from each of the foster families.  “I loved seeing the pictures of the dogs.”  Nancy became especially close with Linda whom she said, “Acted like a mother to my dog.”

Obviously pleased with the care her dogs received with Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet, Nancy fostered her dogs with them again for her third and final tour.

PedroNow Nancy has become one of the organization’s biggest advocates.  When asked if she has recommended Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet to anybody else she told me, “Everybody.  Everybody.  I used to hand out fliers at Fort Hood at the vet’s office.”  She also told me, “I’d do anything for Guardian Angels.”  And she does.

As part of the board, Nancy now helps come up with ways to raise money for Guardian Angel’s various programs.  She also donates money every month as a way of paying back the organization that helped her so much.

Nancy also feels it’s important to spread the word about Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet.  “We’ve got to let people know that there is someone out there to help them.”

Nancy also has a message for all of the volunteers with Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet.  “For the people who volunteer, like the ones who took my dogs, all I can say is ‘thank you’ and God bless them because they give a lot of peace of mind to a lot of people.”

– Article written by Laurie Sickles. 

Teaching old dogs new tricks: A Tail of the Beagle Boyz

Our experience fostering two beagles through Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet© was the best! We had dogs all of our lives and two years after our last one died we were still missing having one around the house. However, we didn’t feel ready to begin another 15 year relationship. I looked into a fostering opportunity and found Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet.

After several starts and stops with potential pups we were finally matched with the Beagle Boyz. Their owner supplied everything we needed for the Boyz to begin their deployment with us, crate, leashes, collars, pre-paid credit card, shot records, food, and snacks. I had been a school nurse for a dozen years so I appreciated receiving the immunizations and medical history which was so much better than ones I filed on school children. I was also humbled and moved by the thoroughness of Captain J with all that she had to do for her own deployment she fully applied her military precision to the resettlement of her Boyz. That’s when I realized how easy it would be to deal with the military, the I’s were dotted & the T’s were crossed.

My husband and I were the unknown variables in the equations. We had to tune into the Boyz’ personalities, establish our ranks, and give the fellows a sense of safety and security. A barrel of monkeys may have been more sedated than two excited beagles. But the Boyz were funny, affectionate, even grateful for the first seven days as we let them establish a routine. We felt so sorry for them since their lives were disrupted but that was our mistake, allowing the inmates to run the asylum.

The Boyz already had a pack order, Captain J., Lt. Tucker, and Private Clancy. However, after a week with us, Pvt. Clancy saw the opportunity for a coup seeking potentate status while Tucker promoted himself to Major and I was on mess hall duty. They got full of themselves with a new woman in the house and upset the whole order. One ferocious fight broke out in the living room, one that would have required a fire hose to suppress had they been outside. Wearing stove gloves for our protection and draping them in blankets, we separated them and retired them to neutral corners. They spent the night in different parts of the house while I stayed up watching the Dog Whisperer on Netflix.

Dawn came and so did their new world order. A “command voice” with an iron fist in the velvet glove declared to them just how the rest of their deployment would play out. With Caesar’s direction I took control. From that day on, the Boyz were greeted with my morning affirmation, “I’m the Leader of the Pack” (temporarily). Being overly indulgent, allowing them to neglect their manners, and not giving them clear leadership simply unleashed them. They got all fouled up and it was a real strain on us.

In no time at all, order was established and they knew what to expect and how to behave. The fault was ours so it was up to us to protect the Boyz from themselves. The next eight and a half months went very, very well. No more outbursts or confusion. Tucker did maintain his battlefield promotion to Major and in a matter of weeks Clancy was promoted to Sargent. They were a honor to the Army, although many former Marines speculated that Clancy had some Marine in him.

All dogs need structure and an obvious chain of command. The dogs from Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet already understand that by virtue of being the dogs of military families. But you can teach old dogs and old civilians new tricks.

-Written by Joanne, Foster Mom in Indiana

 

The Bond between a Soldier and his Dog

My Labradoodle, Chandler, has been such a positive influence in my life. He has improved my way of living in so many ways. I will try to elaborate on a few. Just going through training Dec2014-5with Chandler gives us a bond like no other. I was in the United States Army/Infantry – August 1, 2012 we ran over a 300 pound or bigger IED in Afghanistan which killed three and left two of us severely wounded. That day changed my whole way of life. I’m always looking over my shoulder, whether I mean to or not. With Chandler now in my life I focus on him and don’t even think about what is possibly coming around the corner or through the door. If I do get into an uncomfortable situation Chandler will take his head and nudge my leg, look up at me and then sits and watches my back. This takes my own mind off of the situation. He’s given me a new sense of responsibility. The only thing that comes close to that bond I share with Chandler was the one I had with my squad when I was down range. It is two completely separate bonds, but the closest I felt to it since Mother’s Day 2012 when I left on my deployment. It is almost as if Chandler can read my thoughts. Due to the explosion I had an open compound Tib fib fracture. Since working with Chandler and the security he brings, I have been able to start walking without a cane. I take him for long walks longer and longer each time. Not only has he helped me overcome some of my mental obstacles, he is helping with my physical obstacles as well. Chandler is a gift straight from God. Chandler and I are just starting our journey together and our bond is already so strong. I am not good at writing or speaking, but everything I said come straight from the heart.

I would like to sincerely show my gratitude to Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet and their Warriors’ Angels program for allowing me the chance to have a little of what I had before my injuries, my deployment, and my service.

Thank you Ms. Cherie and all those involved!

Kevin W

 

This article is the official interview with the 2nd Warriors’ Angels San Antonio Team known as the “Wear Team” (Kevin W & Chandler).

Life with a Warriors’ Angels Service Dog… from a Soldier’s Perspective

Our life has always provided us with so many miracles. Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet and their Warriors’ Angels Program gave me a huge miracle. I’ve been waiting on a Service Dog for 6 years but my wife’s significant allergies have prevented any animals coming into the house. Cherie walked into our life with this adorable Goldendoodle puppy, Sophie. My wife is not allergic to her which is an amazing miracle in itself! I have fallen in love with this bundle of joy! Words alone cannot explain the changes wrought since she came into our lives.

Jim_Sophie_Nov2014-1I feel like a new parent talking about a new baby.   Sophie has the sweetest disposition I have ever seen in a dog.   She is friendly with a unique personality all her own. I rediscovered happiness in life spending time with her, playing “puppy” games and teaching her some basic tricks. Sophie is so smart and picks up on new situations with little or no prompting.

Sophie is so protective of both me and my wife, but she knows she is my dog and always keeps me as her primary focus.

Sophie wakes me up if I am having a nightmare. When I’m awake she stays very close to me and will lean up against me if I’m starting to escalate or lose control of my anger in order to soothe me. If her leaning isn’t enough, she will bark and demand to go outside, taking me on a walk until I calm down. It is incredible how she is able to sense my moods and emotions, defusing the anger until it is gone.

We have two feral cats, one several years old and another about 4-5 months old. Sophie has made them a part of her life. The older cat is stand-offish, but if we aren’t looking, she will play with Sophie. Road Rash (the kitten) & Kitty Girl (the oldest feral cat) play with Sophie when they are outside. Her other buddy is a dog named Tommy who lives behind us. They run back and forth along the fence playing. When we go outside and “visit” Sophie is friendly to everyone, including the mailman who likes her as well.

My wife has been there throughout my multiple deployments and has always been a blessing.  Sophie fills a need that another person cannot. We have bonded. Sophie never criticizes or scolds me. She is just there, understanding and caring. Sophie just wants attention from me. I know that I’m the only thing that matters to her. Sophie knows when to play and when to just sit near me. Her cold nose & unconditional love provides comfort on a level people cannot begin to understand.

Mere words cannot express my gratitude for the gift of Sophie. She has done so much to erase my depression, defuse my angry outbursts, and verbal assaults.   She is there when I lose my sense of direction or my frustration over things I cannot control.   And my wife is not allergic to her!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Jim G. US Army, Retired

So, how can you get involved with the Warriors’ Angels Program?  It’s easy!  You can donate (Sponsorships & Support Levels), Volunteer, Spread the Word or Host 3rd Party Fundraiser.

For more details and questions, please email waap@guardianangelsforsoldierspet.org.

Originally posted in our December 2014 newsletter.

Meeting the Beagle Boyz

It’s Memorial Day 2014, a day of considerable weight for me as I think of those who have given all of themselves for the U.S.  It’s a day for looking back and remembering. It was the week of Memorial Day 2013 that we met the our Beagle Boyz for the first time.

A few years ago I’d been thinking of a way to do something proactive for the military, perhaps even for an individual soldier. I wasn’t affiliated with any military organizations, didn’t live near a base and didn’t have any particular skill set…or did I?

Our family was still feeling the loss of our 16 year old Brittany, Shivas Irons, and didn’t want to get into another 16 year dog experience but we missed that canine contribution to our home. My husband and I are dog people and if I do say so myself I’m good with dogs, know basic commands, and scoop poop with polished discretion. I began looking for some sort of pet fostering opportunities when I came across Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet  and signed up online. It was a comprehensive application and eventually we were approved as a foster family.

Due to various travel commitments in the winter of 2012/2013 we had to turn down two Pit Bulls, a Boxer, and a Dalmatian. I was beginning to question my own commitment to Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet by wondering if I was chickening out by being so unavailable. I’m sure the Indiana Foster Coordination Liaison, Carol, was about to give up on asking me to foster but I told her to call me at the end of April 2013 when my life would be getting into a more regular schedule. And call she did, on April 30.

Carol had an Army Captain who had two Beagles. Hmm, two Beagles sound easy enough, I thought. Carol put me in touch with the Captain so we could correspond and try to determine if her dogs could fit in well with us. The Captain and I e-mailed for a week or two learning about each other. We discovered we shared similar first names with a “Jo” prefix. She was just a bit older than our children. Her mom and I are nurses. She described her dogs with such tender affection and allowed that they were her children.

It was her passion for her babies that inspired her colleagues to give her a unique nickname, they called her Jo-Momma. When I learned that all my apprehension melted away, it was a SIGN. I had the same nickname of Jo-Momma given to me by the children of my friends as well as my niece and nephews. What are the odds of two Jo-Mommas finding each other? One Jo-Momma must GO serve while giving the other Jo-Momma the opportunity TO serve. It was a MATCH!

As it turned out, my husband, Bob, and I had a road trip over Memorial Day weekend 2013. As I unfolded the map (yes, we are THAT old) I noticed that we could make a two or three hour detour and cruise through Captain Jo’s town. It would be a chance to meet the dogs and the Captain and to see (and smell) her home. Was her furniture in tatters from compulsive chewers? Was her carpeting stained? Did the place have the aroma of a kennel? I called Jo the evening before our proposed surprise visit and she eagerly accepted our rude imposition.

In the early afternoon we arrived at Jo’s home. We were standing on the front porch when a lovely young woman opened the door. The activity behind her was revving up as some unrecognizable, high-speed blurred bodies shot by. However, one object was standing perfectly still as we entered the foyer. What in the world was that creature? “You said she had two Beagles. That’s not a Beagle, it’s a pony,” my husband HISSED in my ear.  Jo immediately read Bob’s panic and quickly assured us that the Mastiff/Great Dane mix belonged to a friend and was just visiting. Whoosh and the blur of Beagle bodies made another pass through the house. Jo led us into her cozy living room next to her neatly appointed dining room. Her home was immaculate and all the furniture was intact with no tell tale stains.

No sooner than we were seated, the Beagles swooped into the living room and screeched to a full stop right in front of us. With their high speed performance completed, it was time to turn on the charm and oh, are Beagles charming. Within a few minutes we were all in!  But would Captain Jo approve of us? Did she want this middle-aged couple in charge of her Boyz? These dogs would be a handful and could she trust us to care for them? They’re escape artists, noisy, frisky, did I mention noisy? I really wanted to offer our home to Captain Jo’s dogs. More importantly, I wanted to give her the security of knowing we would faithfully care for her pups. She had a tremendous responsibility with a sworn duty to serve the country. After our visit, we waited for her approval and once we received it we waited for the big day when the Boyz would come to stay with us.

To be continued…

-Written by Joanne, Foster Mom in Indiana

Founder of Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet Wins Home Instead Senior Care’s Salute to Senior Service for the Temple, TX Region

Founder of Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet Wins Home Instead Senior Care’s Salute to Senior Service for the Temple, TX Region

 

Ms. Linda Spurlin-Dominik
Ms. Linda Spurlin-Dominik

Gatesville, TX, April 14, 2014 – Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet© is pleased to announce that Ms. Linda Spurlin-Dominik, Founder and CEO, has won the Home Instead Senior Care’s Salute to Senior Service Award for the Temple, TX Region. The award is in recognition of her outstanding volunteer service. The Salute to Senior Service program, in its third year, recognizes the contributions of adults age 65 years and older who give at least 15 hours a month of volunteer service to their favorite causes. Ms. Spurlin-Dominik spends over 40 hours per week volunteering for Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet.

Ms. Spurlin-Dominik has a long list of volunteer hours with military support organizations, but it has been her dedication, passion and continued leadership of the organization that helped her win this award.

“She not only had the vision to create the organization, but also the daily passion to handle the day-to-day operations, develop new programs, wear multiple hats and guide the organization as we enter into the tenth year of service. Her daily dedication and passion for helping our military, veterans and wounded warriors is very evident from the moment you start talking to her,” said Jessica Semon, Board President and the individual who nominated Ms. Spurlin-Dominik. “She does all of this with a smile on her face, a passion in her voice, and a deep dedication to give back to our military.”

Ms. Linda Spurlin-Domink and Ms. Brandy Firebaugh
Ms. Linda Spurlin-Dominik and Ms. Brandy Firebaugh

The award ceremony took place on April 9, 2014 at 2:00 pm, at Sammons Community Center in Temple, TX.  Ms. Spurlin-Dominik was presented with a donation from Home Instead for the organization along with red roses and a certificate that read:

 ———————–
Home Instead Senior Care
Salute to Senior Service
Congratulations to

Linda Spurlin-Dominik

for outstanding commitment to Volunteerism in Central Texas.
Your contributions and service have made your community a better place.
Brandy Firebaugh
Franchise Owner
04/09/2014 
———————–
Judy Grayson (Garden Estates ALC), Brandy Firebaugh (HISC), Linda Spurlin-Dominik (Local Winner), Karen Handley (Hospice Compassus), Sonja Chupik (Seton Hospital), and Marie O’Neal (Cornerstone Garden Nursing & Rehab)
Judy Grayson (Garden Estates ALC), Brandy Firebaugh (HISC), Linda Spurlin-Dominik (Local Winner), Karen Handley (Hospice Compassus), Sonja Chupik (Seton Hospital), and Marie O’Neal (Cornerstone Garden Nursing & Rehab)

Not only was Ms. Spurlin-Dominik honored for her charity work, but also for her life and dedication to the community. She was presented with gifts baskets from:

  • Cornerstone Garden Nursing & Rehab
  • Garden Estates ALC
  • Hospice Compassus
  • Marcie Conde Encompass Home Health and Rose Conde Professional Medical
  • Seton Hospital

Attending the ceremony with Ms. Spurlin-Dominik, were Cacharina “Katt” Perry, Operations Leader, Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet and member of the Texas National Guard; Angelica Emma, Daughter of MAJ Nancy Emma whose pet Snowball was our first resident of our MVP Sanctuary – Texas; Lynn Dryer, Angelica Emma, friend of MAJ Nancy Emma.

On behalf of everyone at Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet, we are extremely happy for Linda and believe that the award is 120% deserving for her passion, dedication, and leadership to a completely ALL Volunteer organization.

About Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet©:

Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet is a national all-volunteer 501(c)3 Military and Veteran Support Organization assisting active duty service members, wounded warriors, veterans, and their beloved companion animals or assistance service canines through various assistance programs.  These programs include: the Military and Veteran Pet Foster Home Program, Military Pet Assistance fund, and the Warriors’ Angels Program (TX only). Unless stated otherwise programs are available in all 50 states and all Branches of Service including National Guard and Reserves.  Learn more at www.guardianangelsforsoldierspet.org and follow our story on our blog,https://tailsfromthefrontline.wordpress.com.  Also check out our affiliate organization, the MVP Sanctuary – Texas at www.mvpsanctuary.org.

Media Inquiries: media@guardianangelsforsoldierspet.org

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