Excited dogs greeting returning soldiers have become an Internet staple, but here’s one with a special twist.
Emma, a pitbull mix who suffers from a congenital anomaly that affects her spine — leaving her front legs only partially functioning and her back legs useless — didn’t let that stop her when her human returned from a six-month deployment.
She pulled and slid herself across the floor to greet him, along with the other two family dogs.
Melissa Swanson uploaded the video of her returning husband and excited dogs on YouTube.
“Emma and her daddy were very close! It broke her heart when he left,” she wrote. “When I come in the door, she normally sits at the end of the hallway and waits for me to pick her up. This time, when her daddy came in, she went to him … Gotta love homecomings!”
The Swansons heard of Emma through SNARR (Special Needs Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation), and became her foster parents. They’ve since decided to adopt her. They’re still trying to find the perfect cart for Emma — one that will require her to keep using her front legs without putting too much pressure on them.
You can learn more about Emma on her Facebook page.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 26th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopt, animals, congenital, deployment, dog, dogs, emma, family, foster, greeting, hemivertebrae, homecoming, homecomings, pets, returning, reunion, snarr, soldier, soldiers, special needs animal rescue and rehabilitation, spinal, swanson, video, war
A good year before I was born, my father wrote a letter while sitting in Korea, and sent it back home to friends in North Carolina.
A week ago, it came back to him — in Arizona.
“It’s so damn cold in here that I just about can make my fingers work,” the letter begins. “… Even so , it’s indoors, so I can imagine how really miserable the boys living in holes are tonight…”
Typewritten on flimsy stationary, the letter goes on to recount a weekend in Tokyo during which he enjoyed burgers and “Jap beer, which is very good.” He asks about what’s going on back home and wonders when he might return. “I’m supposed to come home in February. And now there is a rumor making the rounds that we’re supposed to be rotated to Japan after 10 months in Korea. So I don’t really know what’s going to happen.”
It was mailed to Lil and Roy Thompson, friends and co-workers at the Winston-Salem Journal, both now deceased.
Apparently Lil filed it away in a book, to be specific, an autobiography of William “Billy” Rose, the showman and lyricist who wrote, among other songs, “Me and My Shadow” and “It’s Only a Paper Moon.”
I don’t know whether Lil parted with the book long ago, or whether it was part of her estate when she died a few years ago, but somehow it ended up among the stock of a second-hand book dealer in Carrboro, N.C.
Robert Garni, once he opened the book, found the letter and read it, took to the Internet to locate my father, Bill Woestendiek, then mailed him the original, along with this note:
” … Quite coincidentally, the other day while sorting out some used books for sale, I came across an old letter that had apparently been tucked away in a hardcover copy of Billy Rose’s autobiography …
“Upon examination of the letter, I realized it may be of some sentimental value to someone and therefore I did a quick search of the Internet where I was able to locate your full name and current address. I am enclosing the letter herewith. I am hoping my information is correct and current so that this letter may finally return to its rightful owner.”
In my father’s letter, he mentions what turned out to be his most cherished memory of the war. He was a lieutenant in the Army, but he was also writing a weekly column for his newspaper back home called “Battle Lines.” The columns weren’t so much about the war as they were Korea and its people. Most of the stories he wrote focused on the children, often orphans of war, and the poverty in which they lived.
His stories led to an outpouring of support from back home in North Carolina — hundreds of pounds of clothing and toys were donated by readers, shipped overseas and distributed at a Christmas party.
“I am overwhelmed, no kidding,” he writes in the letter of the readers’ response. “We’ll have clothes for our party and still some extra to give to the orphanages around here which are also hurting for clothing.”
Reading over those articles, which I found amid my stuff, in a green scrapbook whose binding was falling apart, I understand a little better why he got so misty when, 19 years ago at Los Angeles International Airport, my father watched as my son arrived, a six-month-old, adopted from Korea.
In the faded old letter he thanks Lil for her support, and for keeping him up on the goings on at the newspaper. “You are one of the best morale builders I have,” he writes.
It took a little help from a thoughtful second-hand book dealer, but, judging from the joyful response my father, now 87, had to getting the letter back, it seems Lil — even though she’s no longer with us – did it again.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 7th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: army, bill woestendiek, book dealer, carrboro, children, friends, journalism, korea, korean war, letter, lil thompson, mail, newspapers, north carolina, orphans, poverty, returned, robert garni, roy thompson, second hand, soldiers, used, war, winston-salem journal
Target, the dog brought to the U.S. from Aghanistan by one of the soldiers whose lives she was credited with saving — only to be accidentally euthanized by an animal shelter – was remembered in a memorial service last night.
The candlelight vigil was held at the Pima County Animal Shelter in Tucson.
In Afghanistan, Target, a stray befriended by a group of American soldiers, kept a suicide bomber who was trying to enter a building on a military base from gaining access. Instead, the bomber instead set off his bomb in a doorway. Five soldiers were injured, several of whom credited Target with helping save their lives.
Phoenix soldier Terry Young brought Target back home to Arizona. Last month, the dog escaped from Young’s yard and ended up in at the Pinal County animal shelter in Casa Grande, where she was accidentally euthanized the next day. The employee responsible for the mistake has been suspended.
Young said his son, Tavius, and the rest of the family is still working to get over the dog’s death, according to KGUN9.
“It’s been a few weeks already and Tavius still says, ‘Where’s Target?’ It’s heartbreaking.”
Posted by John Woestendiek December 4th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accidentally euthanized, afhganistan, animal shelter, animals, bomb, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, hero, hero dog, memorial, military, pets, pima county animal shelter, pinal county, shelters, soldiers, stray, suicide bomber, target, terry young, tucson, vigil
Target’s owner, Sgt. Terry Young, found out his dog had been killed when he showed up at the shelter to claim her.
The dog had escaped from his backyard over the weekend.
“When it comes to euthanizing an animal, there are some clear-cut procedures to follow,” Ruth Stalter, Pinal County animal-control director, said in a statement. “Based on my preliminary investigation, our employee did not follow those procedures.”
The county is investigating the accidental euthanization at its Casa Grande shelter.
In Afghanistan, Target snapped and barked at a suicide bomber, who was trying to enter a building on a military base. The bomber instead set off his bomb in a doorway. Five soldiers were injured, several of whom credited Target with helping save their lives.
“I just can’t believe that something like this would happen to such a good dog,” Young told the Arizona Republic.
When he returned to the U.S., Young brought Target with him to his home in the Phoenix area.
A county spokesman said a shelter employee has been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.
Young said he found the gate to his backyard open on Friday morning, the day after Veterans Day.
Heather Murphy, a spokeswoman for Pinal County, said Target was found by a nearby resident, who put her in his backyard and called the pound.
Later that night Young saw Target’s picture on a website used by Pinal County’s animal control office, and, assuming the shelter was closed for the weekend, figured she would be safe until he could pick her up Monday.
When he arrived, he filled out some forms and a staff member brought him another dog. Young then showed the employee a picture of his dog. Then he waited for an hour.
According to the Republic, Young saw one worker sobbing. And the director of the shelter told him there had been a mistake.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, accidentally euthanized, afghanistan, animal control, animal shelter, arizona, casa grande, dog, euthanized, hero, killed, lives, mistake, news, pinal county, put down, saved, soldier, soldiers, suicide bomber, target, terry young, war
Faith, the two-legged dog, continues to spread inspiration — most recently last weekend when she visited McChord Air Force Base and Fort Lewis in Washington state.
Faith met thousands of soldiers — some headed to war, some coming back.
“She just walks around barking and laughing and excited to see them all,” Faith’s owner, Jude Stringfellow, told the Associated Press.
“There is a lot of crying, pointing and surprise. From those who have lost friends or limbs, there can be silence. Some will shake my hand and thank me, some will pat her on the head. There is a lot of quiet, heartfelt, really deep emotion.”
Faith, a Lab-chow mix, was born to a junkyard dog around Christmas of 2002. Her mother rejected her and she was rescued by Jude Stringfellow’s son, Rueben, now in the Army. The mother and son taught the dog to walk on her rear legs — using peanut butter and a lot of practice.
Since then Faith has done the talk show circuit, and Stringfellow has become a motivational speaker. She has written two books about Faith and is working on a third, “Faith Walks.”
They get more than 200 letters and e-mails a day, run a website and make dozens of appearances every year, including stops at veterans’ hospitals across the country to cheer injured soldiers.
Rueben Stringfellow left Iraq in September and is stationed in Alaska. He is scheduled to get out of the Army and head home on Jan. 1.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 17th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: air force, army, base, chow, coping, disabilities, dog, faith, fort lewis, hope, inspiration, jude stringfellow, lab, legs, limbs, lost, mcchord, motivation, on two legs, rear legs, rueben, soldiers, two legs, two-legged, video, walks, washington
Nubs, the one-time Iraqi street mutt — so named by American soldiers for the stubs where his ears used to be — appeared on this morning’s Today Show, along with the Marine major who rescued him.
Nubs befriended Marine Major Brian Dennis and his fellow soldiers while Dennis was on patrol in the Anbar province.
When Dennis was required to report to another location, 70 miles away, he bid his friend farewell and left with little hope that Nub would survive on the war torn streets. Already, the dog had his ears cut off, and had been stabbed in the side with a screwdriver — both, Dennis believes, by Iraqi soldiers.
Two days after Dennis arrived at his new location, Nubs showed up.
Dennis said he was inside headquarters when a fellow Marine came in and said, “You’re not going to believe who’s outside.”
“Who’s outside?” Dennis asked.
“Nubs is outside,” the soldier said.
After a joyful reunion, Dennis was informed that, since the military prohibits keeping dogs in war zones, he had four days to get rid of him. Given the bond they’d established and the dangers Nubs faced, Dennis was hesitant to do that.
Strays in Iraq, Dennis said today, serve as a needed escape for soliders — “an escape from the drudgery and the mundane life and the bad things you see at times.”
Dennis and his friends launched an Internet campaign and raised $5,000 to send Nubs to a friend in the U.S..
In March 2008, about a month after Nubs arrived, Dennis returned from Iraq and was reunited with the dog.
Now the whole story has become a book, “Nubs, the True Story of a Mutt, a Marine and a Miracle.”
Posted by John Woestendiek November 2nd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, dog, dogs, ears, finds, found, home, internet, iraq, major brian dennis, marines, mutt, nubs, pets, reunited, shipped, soldiers, stray, today show, troops, u.s., war
Sen. Al Franken’s first piece of legislation — aimed at increasing the supply of service dogs for veterans – has been passed and is headed to the White House for approval.
Under the legislation, the Veterans Administration would develop partnerships with organizations that provide disabled veterans with service dogs. Franken said the measure will cost about $5 million and is designed not to interfere with non-profit organizations providing service dogs.
“The government is going to pay for essentially every other dog. What I didn’t want to happen was to dry up the funding for the organizations like Hearing and Service Dogs in Minneapolis and all of these non-profits who have been providing dogs to some vets.”
Franken said about 200 veterans will get dogs as a result of the legislation. The legislation was passed yesterday as apart of the Defense Authorization bill, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
Franken introduced the legislation after meeting Luis Carlos Montalvan, a veteran who said his service dog improved his quality of life.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 24th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: act, al franken, approved, authorization, defense, dog, dogs, law, luis carlos montalvan, minnesota, passed, passes, sen., senate, senator, service, soldiers, veterans, vets, white house
By day, Army Maj. Steven Hutchison — a Vietnam veteran who came out of retirement at age 59 to fight in Iraq — was rough and tough, crusty and disagreeable, a man with little respect for the rules.
He violated one of them nightly, sleeping with his arms wrapped around Laia, a stray yellow puppy he had taken in from the streets.
Hutchison died in May, killed when a roadside bomb exploded near his truck — the oldest soldier to die in the Iraq war. But Laia lives on.
Laia was transported back to the U.S. by Operation Baghdad Pups, preserving not only the pup, but — as described in the Detroit Free Press yesterday — the memory of Army Maj. Steven Hutchison, as well.
“Whenever Laia was around,” Hutchison’s “demeanor and personality changed 1,000%,” Sgt. Andrew Hunt wrote in an e-mail to Hutchison’s family. “He was never without a smile; he was so much happier in life.” When a senior officer ordered Hutchison to get rid of the dog or face disciplinary action, Hutchison sent her into hiding with a friend at a far outpost on the border of Iran. The puppy broke free and ran away, returning one day to Hutchison’s base with a broken leg.
The day Hutchison was killed, Laia was spotted chained up outside a tent by Jerry Deaven, an employee of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Detroit. He was visiting Iraq to research terrorist funding.
“What’s going to happen to her, now that the major is gone?” Deaven asked. A few members of Hutchison’s team said they wanted to take her, but they were getting redeployed. “If I didn’t take the dog, they would have had to put the dog down,” he said. Read more »
Posted by John Woestendiek September 14th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amputation, bomb, casualty, detroit, dog, dogs, homeland security, iraq, jerry deaven, laia, major, oldest, operation baghdad pups, soldier, soldiers, steven hutchison, three-legged, war
There are those who say psychiatric service dogs aren’t “real” service dogs — that, unlike guide dogs for the blind, they merely make their owners feel good and provide nothing more than comfort.
Iraq war veteran Jennifer Pacanowski sees it differently — especially after, unaware she was going 85 miles an hour on the freeway, a wet nose nudged her elbow, bringing her back to reality.
The wet nose belonged to Boo, a 110-pound Bull Mastiff who warns her when her anxiety levels are rising. Pacanowski slowed down, and lived to tell the story, which is recounted in an article on psychiatric service dogs in U.S. News & World Report.
The article reveals that the U.S. Department of Defense is starting a 12-month study to find out exactly how the dogs help — by comparing soldiers with PTSD who have dogs with a similar group of soldiers without a dog. Researchers will measure changes in symptoms and medication use.
“We want to provide evidence for something we know observationally and help create a movement towards the use of psychiatric service dogs,” said lead investigator Craig T. Love, senior study director at Westat, a research corporation in Rockville, Md. “It’s time to make a change.”
Pacanowski is one of dozens of veterans and others who already know what the study seeks to substantiate. Boo, only a year old, has been helping her deal with her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — a result of her experiences as a medic in the war — since December.
“Sometimes I forget where I am and will go back to the war in Iraq. He brings me back to reality and makes me realize that I can’t run people off the road. It’s a frequent thing with PTSD to have road rage,” said Pacanowski, who lives in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Boo is one of a team of “psychiatric service dogs” being used to help people with various mental health issues, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and, perhaps most notably, PTSD.
“If a dog observes when a person with PTSD is escalating, the dog will be able to signal that they are escalating and, given it’s so early in process, the person can manage and even prevent the escalation,” explained Joan Gibbon Esnayra, president and founder of the Psychiatric Dog Service Association.
The dogs have been in service for about 12 years and while patients and professionals alike know they work wonders, there has been no real empirical evidence of their value — and, as a result, they often receive neither the respect or funding opportunities of guide dogs.
“A recent survey showed that 82 percent of patients with PTSD who were assigned a dog had a decrease in symptoms, and 40 percent had a decrease in the medications they had to take,” added Dr. Melissa Kaime, director of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), who spoke at a telebriefing last month. “I fully expect this will be positive trial.”
You can learn more about psychiatric service dogs at the Psychiatric Service Dog Society website.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 4th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: boo, department of defense, dog, dogs, iraq war, jennifer pacanowski, mastiff, post traumatic stress disorder, psychiatric service dogs, ptsd, soldiers, study, therapy, u.s. news & world report, veterans