"This last weekend I went with my friends
and family to a street festival spanning several blocks and took just as
many to find a parking spot. My daughter had an accident and we had to
walk back to the car without the rest of the group. My dog Argos is
still in training through TADSAW and Total Canine Care in Clarksville
TN. I had Argos in one hand and my daughter in the other. I talked to
Argos and knew we would be OK. It was having my Argos by my side that
kept me from complete panic and mental breakdown. He got me through what
would have been a terrifying event. I know you get a lot of stories, I
just wanted to share mine. We had a victory! Together as a team me and
Argos. We found the car through some scary places.
So thank you again, it means so very much to me what you do."
thought I would share an experience I had the other day in my (current)
hometown of Clarksville TN. Leah of TCC Service dogs has been working
hard as a TADSAW partner in our city! I saw my first TADSAW pair working
in a store the other day :) As he was walking through the store, the
clerk approached him to say he could not have his "pet" in the store.
She did not notice his vest I guess :/ When the gentleman explained that
he was a therapy dog she walked away.
As I was checking out in the front, the clerk was talking to the floor manager (who we know well) and saying she wasn't sure the man was telling her the truth. I was SO glad I was standing there. I explained what TADSAW is, why the dog's therapy vest was made from ACU material, and what the presence of the dog does for that man. It was so great to see their faces light with understanding and KNOW that the animal was allowing a new customer among them. I am sure that kind of interaction happens to warrior all the time and seemed insignificant at this point, but I wanted to share with you!"
Meet Some Of the TADSAW Teams
Willie and Battle Buddy Chelsea
Jason and Battle Buddy
Click HERE to hear his story.
Evan and Battle Buddy
Click HERE to hear his story.
It is because of TADSAW that I'm here. Both you and Bart get thanks all of us. Without the two of you I think it is safe to say that most of us wouldn't still be around - let alone function.
Thank you so much for everything you have done to help me! He has changed my life for the better; even my parents, my Auntie, Uncle, and my friends can see that I am so much more happier than I was before and it is because of Moses! :) I have taken Moses to so many places, to include the mall, the lake, a running trail, Red Lobster, Applebee's, Barnes and Nobles, the library, and other shops to keep him socially interacting while at the same time I too am socially interacting instead of being a hermit crab in my room and in a little bit Moses and I are going to church for the first time together! I have told a lot of people about TADSAW when they tell me how well-behaved he is to try to spread the word about the life-changing affects TADSAW has had on my life.
I miss being there in Texas with all of you;
there is something very special about being surrounded by a support
system as you, Bart, and Carolyn who did so much to help me even before
you guys ever met me, and for that I appreciate all the work you all do
everyday to help Veterans like me. It is because of you guys that I now
have a loyal, faithful Buddy who will never leave me side! Thank you so
C. and Moses
Chelsea and I are team 0016. I don't know how
to tell you how much having her with me has meant to me. Last month I
was able to go to a movie for the first time in about 25 years. Having
her with me makes life easier and I feel more able to go out in the
world instead of just staying at home and avoiding people all the time.
"You can loose part of your psyche in war
because you have no reminders of innocence in war. The dogs give you
While he prefers not to talk about it, he was also physically wounded during that same tour of duty. As a combat medic he was participating in a convoy escort in March, 2010 when he encountered an improvised explosive device. The results are ongoing problems with his knees and spine.
While his new service dog won't be able to heal that pain, Spadoni says more and more soldiers are turning to man's best friend to heal PTSD and other long-lasting psychological affects of war.
"It's amazing how many soldiers are taking to service dogs," he said. "It's like a custom-made best friend that understands you and you understand them, and no one else has to know. It's just a bond between two entities." [Read more about this Soldier]
It is almost 9pm here and I took my sleep medicine about an hour ago. Then, my mind began to wander and I remembered the times you all came and saw us at Laurel Ridge. I miss those days. I know there are many months until I get one (dog), but even the thought of it rests my mind somewhat. Thank You, Thank You, and Thank You for giving me hope of better times. My anxiety is through the roof, but the book you gave me helps to make it manageable. God Bless and if there is anything a young man from Georgia can help you with... please let me know.
My dog, Too, and I have recently been accepted
into the TADSAW program. We are working hard to learn all the lessons
and become a responsible, respectable team.
Too and I will be taking our K-9 Good Citizenship test on Tuesday. Dianne Espe has been a blessing to both of us. She is kind and caring. She expects a lot from us and we are more than happy to comply. She never expects too much. She expects what we can accomplish successfully.
Since beginning the program, I knew that Too and I would ultimately be in public places and needed to handle this task proficiently. So I found her a little boy's rain slicker in a resale store. I used a red sharpie to mark down her back. S. I. T. (Service Dog In Training under the letters).
We have gently asked our surrounding community if it is okay to come into their establishments so we may train in the public arena. We have only been denied one time. We have been in Wal-Marts, Petsmarts, Lowes, Home Depots, HEBs, Walgreens, CVS, a variety of second hand stores, many restaurants, Whole Foods, Central Market, and many other public places. Too is doing her teacher and her human mom PROUD!!! She has never caused a problem in public. She minds her business and her manners. In a recent trip to HEB with our trainer, Dianne, we were told by her; "That's impressive!" when Too walked very closely to the cold cut section while never even turning to look at the meats that were at her nose level.
I don't know if Too is an exceptional dog or if it is that we have an exceptional trainer. All I know is that I am so comforted and supported when I can have my wonderful "Battle Buddy" with me. It is especially helpful when we are allowed to be together in the VA.
I am a Desert Storm veteran. I have been struggling with PTSD for over 20 years now. I kept thinking every new year that eventually the PTSD would magically get better. No such luck! Six years ago, I attended a Vets Journey Home weekend as a participant. That was the beginning turning point in my life. I quit dying one day at a time and began living them one day at a time.
I was diagnosed with a brain aneurism just after submitting my completed application package to TADSAW. I was sure my hospitalization and recuperation period would knock us out of the program. Much to my surprise and glee, TADSAW saved our place in line. Too and I began training as soon as I had healed enough from what I call my "upstairs repairs".
Even though we are not certified yet, it is an amazing journey. People and children ask daily if they can pet my dog. I tell Too, "Tell the nice lady or baby or gentleman hello". She walks forward sniffs their outstretched hand and accepts their pets. Then she returns to my heel on her own. The children especially become very happy when I thank them for being kind to my dog. People are curious about the cute little dog that wears the bright yellow rain slicker.
Today, I had the honor to tell a veteran at the VA about the TADSAW program. He and his wife were curious and brave enough to ask me about Too. They wrote the website information down and were going to go online and check out TADSAW as soon they returned home to Killeen.
I cannot begin to express my sincere gratitude enough to the TADSAW program. I am already feeling positive results from being able to spend more time with Too. She is so excited on "work" days. When I dress her, she takes on a very professional "dogatude". When I take her slicker and lead off she returns to a household dogatude. She is such a blessing to me!!! I am working hard at our training. I can hardly wait until "graduation day". I know she will look SO glamorous in her TADSAW Service Dog vest!!!
Thank all of you SO VERY VERY MUCH!!!
And Ever Grateful,
Desert Storm Vet and Warrior in Training
Let me tell you a little story about a man, a dog,
My new warrior needed some things, not many, enough to qualify as a "quick trip to the store". I look at the list, I look at the clock and think, "this evening is the perfect time to have a QUICK practice run at Wal-Mart". All my warriors hate Wal-Mart, yet it is a necessary evil. It is the product of their hard work to conquer Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is conquered in baby steps. Tonight was to be his first step. We load up Nina, and drive the whopping tenth of a mile to Wal-Mart. Took us 23 minutes. The whole time has staring at the giant super Wal-Mart like David must have looked at Goliath. He didn't say much about Wal-Mart in that 23 minutes, we talked baseball. He never took his eyes off the sign on the other side of the freeway. We get parked, unload Nina, do a few pushups and head toward the door. As we walk I tell him the layout of the store, the fastest route to get his few things and get out.
We walk through the doors and it's SO LOUD. There are 150 teenagers gathered at the shampoo aisle. They raised money to help needy families and were here to Christmas shop for them. I look at my warrior who is stock still, Nina is on high alert. It's time to go. I reach out and gently touch his arm to get his attention, he turns slowly, looks at me and says "is that the only door?" I said no... Opposite end has one as well, let's get out of here. He says no. We have to keep going. I say a different day. He says no, today is the day, he pets his dog, tells her it will be ok. We work through the craziness with fits and starts all of us doing our part to keep the team together and moving on. We make it to the back part of the store, he asks again about exits. I say again, let's be done. He refuses, he pets his dog. The teenagers finally leave and it feels like a normal Thursday night at Wal-Mart, if there is such a thing.
We have all the items on our quick list. We head to check out, hoping for self check out to be speedy. They are all turned off and not enough lanes are open overall, we will have to wait in the narrow aisles never fun, especially for a TADSAW team, he pets his dog. While we are in line people ask about his dog, he tells them all he knows, this man of isolation, he pets his dog. I get a text message from an amazing volunteer saying she just dropped off cookies and chips at the hotel. I tell my warrior with a sweet tooth. He smiles, cookies gooood. :) We finish in our looooong line and head towards the door and he stops. He says, "we need to go back" I said we are going back to the hotel right now, you did beyond amazing. He says "no, we need to go back in the store, back in THIS store" I just looked at him, certainly I was hearing wrong. He says with a big smile, "I can't possibly have cookies without milk." I said we will go to the car with the stuff and I will run back in. He won't have it, back into Wal-Mart we go, THE BACK of the store where the milk is. And the he says, he should get more treats for Nina, he wouldn't want to run out. So we get treats, and he pets his dog. He tells me as we are walking back to check out, that he used to do all the shopping for the family, he loves going grocery shopping with his kids, they loved looking at all the food and making up stuff. I asked how long had it been since he'd been grocery shopping? He said, "when the kids were in school" ...his children are now married with kids of their own. He is excited to go home and do the grocery shopping again. He called his daughter on the spot, told her what he was doing. She didn't have much to say, all I heard were the quiet tears, he pet his dog.
We started getting ready to go to Wal-Mart at 6 pm. We got the milk in the fridge at the hotel at 9:15 pm. They will sleep well tonight after their milk and cookies.
You never know how a life might be changed. A dog, a volunteer, and chocolate chip cookies!
After being deployed twice, once to Iraq and once to Afghanistan, I have not been the same person I used to be. There seemed to have been something missing and yet at the same time I gained some unpleasant things like PTSD, depression, loneliness, vigilance, etc.
Since I have had Asia, my service dog, she has given me back my spark. She's my companion. I have her to talk to about anything and she will be there and listen with her tail wagging.
When I feel alone, she's there to lay by me, comfort me and keep me warm. She has made me become more social with other people and it's a good feeling to have someone ask about her. She's special, she's my friend. It doesn't matter how tough of a day I've had, once I get home and see her, her goofiness makes me laugh and makes me forget all about it.
Patsy, I am writing this as I was going to call you but was afraid I wouldn't be able to stop crying. I'm sure everyone who is a BAMC is in the same boat as I am. I have been through a lot. I don't think there are many who can go through a combat tour and not be changed somewhat. The things you see, the inhumanity to others. It goes on. I was also physically hurt by another Soldier so the anger and everything else that goes along with the betrayal of someone you trust runs deep for me right now. I spend most of my days afraid. Afraid of everything. Even to leave my room. Animals are the ONLY exception to that. I did what all tough and good combat Soldiers do and pushed it so far deep inside that I didn't have to acknowledge it. It was so buried I honestly didn't know if I would ever be able to look at it, to process it, to do whatever needs to be done to recover my life. I didn't even know where to start. I was starting to not even know who I was anymore.
I returned from my MRI and sat a few minutes and thought of the three Angels God had sent my way, and then I opened your book and read the first twenty pages. Then I cried. Something I haven't been able to do for a LONG time. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad cry, it was one that was much needed.
I know I am a long way from where I need to be, but thanks to you and
the other girls, and especially the three furry babies that know how
much I need them, the door has been opened. Maybe just a crack, but not
locked shut with the key thrown away anymore.
I could never put into words how much you all mean to me. Kisses to all of you.
In every way that I could think of at this moment of how Kingsley helps me. He is laying next to me as I type these very words to you. How every single day without fail, he wakes up with me...licking my hand and whole body wagging along with that tail of his. He is forever grateful to me, as I am forever grateful to him. He fills my darkest moments with smiles and soft nudges. He has been to the darkest of places and never left my side. Kingsley's love has never faltered or failed even when he knows he has done wrong. He never misses a beat...never misses a moment. Kingsley is the best thing that has happened to me. I have had PTSD for such a long time. I began to accept that this would be my way of life...but Kingsley had a different idea in mind. This ever faithful companion has showed me life again and that nothing has to be done on your own. He is a true friend, who is always there ready to take a walk, or just sit on the couch. Either way...this dog will be happy...happy to have changed my life.
I deployed to Iraq in 2004-2005 and again in 2007. I am married and have two boys that noticed the difference when I returned home. Since returning from Iraq I have had anxiety & sleep problems. The concern for my health grew and I noticed that my German shepherd “Katie” would keep me calm and focused. We have had Katie since she was a puppy and she is now 7 years old. Katie helping me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) helps me keep my family & life together.
I was talking with a fellow Marine about PTSD and he mentioned the Penny’s From Heaven Foundation and their therapy dogs. They also had a new program Train a Dog – Save a Warrior. I was excited to hear about these programs and I enrolled Katie in both. The program has worked out for us & Katie is now CGC, ATT, & therapy dog certified. Through these programs I have been able to spend more time with my service dog.
For others out there suffering with an invisible disability like PTSD there is a solution. I would recommend a dog to warriors to help in their treatment. I still take meds and go to therapy but having Katie as a service dog has helped me through some tough times. My dog lets me know that I am going to be OK when my anxiety builds up and when she wakes me from nightmares. Katie & I make a great team.
Thank you Penny’s From Heaven Foundation
GySgt Henry Idar
Thank you all who made this possible! It has been a life changing event for me in so many ways! It is hard to express it all. "Luther" is such a wonderful blessing and the support of trainer LaDonna and her husband Dan is so wonderful and caring. It makes me feel so much at peace and in caring, trusting hands, surrounded by friends that are taking care of me. God bless all of you involved.
When I returned from Iraq, I was broken and life wasn't the same. The experience forever changed my life, some for the good, some for the bad. One thing I knew though, I wanted a dog. I found my dog in a Craigslist ad and off to a small Texas town I went to pick her up. I could tell she was a special dog more so than any other dog I had every owned before. The effects of my time in war were starting to take its toll on me however. While watching TV one evening with this lump of brown fur in my lap. I saw a program on NATGEO about an Iraqi War vet that had a service dog and I wanted part of that. I searched the Internet for a program that would allow me to use my dog as my companion. I found TADSAW and contacted the director. Soon I found myself training side-by-side with this wonderful beast. After several months of training and a whole lot of love, I find myself with a constant companion I can take anywhere and is my source of strength. She helps me face life, has my back, wakes me when the nightmares come, comforts me when I just don't feel right and makes me get off my couch and interact with the world. If I hadn't found TADSAW I would hate to think how my life might have turned out. Not only has this lump of brown fur helped me, she has helped my family. I just can't thank TADSAW enough for letting me get my life back.
Andrew C Pastusic Sr.
SFC, US Army
Electronic Warfare/Counter IED
Al Kut Iraq 08-09