Packing is just one part of the equation….. that took place on Saturday for a large number of care packages.  Today was shipping day, which requires timing, patience and hard work.  Yesterday, we coordinated with the local post office that we would be sending out 70 of the packages today.  We took them to the back door (bulk door) of the local post office and off loaded them onto a huge bin.

The post office staff rolled them to the front of the post office and we met up with the packages again on the front side at the customer service counters.  10:00 on Tuesday is generally a light  time for the clerks on the front counter so they all pitched in getting these packages processed.  Customs forms, signed, dated, weighed, inserted into sleeves and attached to each box.

Postage has just gone up to $14.85 a package.  Ouch!  $1039.50 was the total bill from both clerks who were working as hard and fast as they could work.  It took us about two hours of clerk time to get them all processed.  I’m exhausted and I know they are, too, from all of the lifting and processing.  LOL.  But, the end result is that 70 more care packages are on their way down range.

SAN DIEGO (Jan. 10, 2013) A military working dog (MWD) assigned to Commander, Navy Region Southwest San Diego MWD Kennel participates in a controlled aggression patrol exercise on Naval Air Station North Island. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenan O’Connor/Released)


SAN DIEGO (Jan. 10, 2013) Master-at-Arms Seaman Apprentice Randy Tallman, assigned to Commander, Navy Region Southwest, acts as a military working dog moving target during a controlled aggression exercise. The exercises are conducted to train the dogs in subduing non-compliant suspects. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Mark El-Rayes/Released) ( Love the length on this jump – is that body open or what!)


SAN DIEGO (Jan. 10, 2013) Shawn Carter, right, a Police Canine Handler assigned to Commander, Navy Region Southwest, gives a military working dog (MWD) the command to halt during a controlled aggression patrol exercise against Master-at-Arms Seaman Apprentice Randy Tallman. The exercises are conducted to train MWDs in subduing non-compliant suspects. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Mark El-Rayes/Released)

Soldiers and Military Working Dogs, with the 209th Military Police Detachment, celebrate the official designation of Military Dog Handler Day in the state of Georgia thanks to lobbying efforts from the non-profit group, Military Working Dog Team Support Association. Photos by Susanna Avery-Lynch

209th MWD Day-13-X3

Soldiers and Military Working Dogs, with the 209th Military Police Detachment, celebrate the official designation of Military Dog Handler Day in the state of Georgia thanks to lobbying efforts from the non-profit group, Military Working Dog Team Support Association. Photos by Susanna Avery-Lynch

Natural Balance Pet Foods 2013 Rose Parade Float Celebrates Military Working Dogs

Just prior to the Rose Parade this year, I was able to visit the Fiesta Float facility in Irwindale, Calif. to see the Natural Balance MWD memorial float being decorated and met Joey Herrick, CEO Natural Balance Pet Foods.

Dogs from all services and from WWII to the present were the focus of this floral tribute that will lead to a MWD monument at Lackland AFB in Texas later this year, and also hopefully, a similar one on the Mall in Washington, DC.

Also riding on the float would be Marine Gunnery Sergeant Chris Willingham, Corporal Juan Rodriques and retired Marine SSD Lucca. Lucca was the MWDTSA Hero dog in 2006. Natural Balance arranged for Chris and Lucca to fly first class from Helsinki Finland to LA for the parade…yes Luuca had her own seat up front!

The float is a replica of The National MWD monument, rendered in flowers and seeds. An 18-wheeler with trailer will crisscross the US with the actual bronze statues for the next six months, promoting the memorial. It will be at the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Feb 3 and end in Wash DC on July 4. Herrick wants another similar memorial to WWII, Korea, VN and current era MWD teams on the Mall in Wash DC. The Lackland monument is scheduled for completion and dedication in Oct 2013. Itinerary will be listed on the Natural Balance website. NB had t-shirts made for the parade float and memorial as well as enameled pins. Ask Dixie to model hers! Look for the truck and trailer at an event near you soon.

Sometimes I get messages that hit me squarely between the eyes with openness and honestly. Such is the email that I just received this morning from a Kennel in Southwest Asia. One of the handlers that I’ve been corresponding with sent me a very kind message thanking MWDTSA for all that has been done for his Kennel while deployed. As I looked at some of his photos, it was clear that he treasures his dogs. The comment accompanying this photo was “All that work just to get his KONG…the things humans take for granted.” It struck me as very profound.

In this photo, there are folks showing off the shirts, KONGs and dog treats that were sent their way. I think Sam is impressed with the KONG. LOL. Love this photo.

307645_10200216680799716_1425435431_n   Adam, buddies and Sam enjoying the care package goodies

Well I must tell you that the shirts were a hit!

I tell you, I have been so appreciative of your support and I will hold
your organization dear to my heart and will always remember you. Thank you
again and will definitely keep in touch!

I will give each of our handlers at my kennels your info for sure!


Caribou Coffee Pick up 006“A cup of coffee shared with a friend is happiness tasted and time well spent.” The wonderful folks at Caribou Coffee in Woodstock, GA are living proof. They and their customers donated over 635 bags of Caribou Coffee for our Care Packages.

We are getting rave reviews from the handlers for the coffees already received and are continuing to send out more. Our big break was meeting the vivacious and very dog friendly manager, Jacqui, shown below with the sign announcing the drive and a bag of Reindeer blend.

Caribou Coffee Pick up 008As a thank you, Jerry presented Jacqui with a plaque to go in their bustling store. I’ve never seen a coffee house this packed every time we stop by. Thanks for what your company, your staff and your customers donated to our dog teams! On behalf of all of the handlers that we support, MWDTSA thanks you.

Miss Lucca, MWDTSA Hero dog from 2006, will be featured in the Rose Bowl Parade, according to her handler, Chris Willingham. Enjoy some of these great photos of Lucca at work and in retirement. Be sure to look back a couple of postings in our Blog! to see the video of her playing in the snow. What a girl!

2 Chris and Lucca July 2007 3Rodriguez Lucca and Willingham a 4 Lucca at the beach 5 Lucca in Finland

Well, “old” being relative. This sweetheart is Courtney. As a high school senior, she did a year of volunteer work with MWDTSA. During that time, she designed a great T Shirt for us and the same design has just been translated to the coffee mug below.

Home on Christmas break from college, Courtney asked if she could come over and help with any tasks that we needed. I had a couple more care packages with coffee to get shipped out and we also folded and bagged the recent order of MWDTSA Night Vision T Shirts.

Courtney 013 a_edited-1One of the ideas that we’re working on is possibly partnering with a motorcycle or car dealership to see if we can get some donated “tire” toys, like the one shown below.

The back view of the Night Vision shirt.

Courtney 007 Courtney 017

We partnered with a school in Paterson, NJ and received some adorable artwork and cards to send to some of the handlers. These were all great and I only had time to scan a few of them because I wanted to get them sent out right way. You can see how creative the finished product was. The top scan is front of this card with a dog saying “I have to chase her” and the female dog wearing a wig, shoes, clothes and carrying a “latte”. What a hoot!


I loved this one, too, because the soldier and the young boy are happy and holding hands. The plea on all of the cards was “Please write back” so I hope that some of the recipients will do so. I just love this one.


And talk about a brilliant color scheme for winter. I love this female snow woman. The lashes and the hair are adorable.


The kids were thinking warm thoughts to send over to the handlers for the winter and a lot of their warm thoughts turned to lattes and hot chocolates, like this doggy with a steaming cup of warm brew. Great colors and a beautiful, heartfelt job.


In addition to the cards, these kids wrote some really cool letters, but I thought I would save those for the handlers to read once the cards arrive. Here is another great card to sum up the mission: USA Dogs!


Please note that some of the kids did use their names on the cards so if you see “smudges” that is where they have been removed. Enjoy the cards and we can’t wait to get more cards and letters from kids to include in our next round of care packages!

Thanks so much for all of these great, great cards. What fun!