Picture Yourself as a MWDTSA Volunteer

Jan Slotar holding up a picture frame so you can picture yourself as a volunteer!

New Year~~New You

Volunteers are how we roll. Would you like to get involved but don’t know how? Let us show you how easy it can be to become part of our MWDTSA Team and why it may be just the thing for you.

As an all volunteer organization, volunteers are the lifeblood of everything we do. That means that each individual who volunteers with MWDTSA contributes to the support we provide to our military working dog teams. Each year, we successfully ship care packages, complete base visits and recognition events, educate the general public and advocate on behalf of retired dogs.

The help you supply is vital. It is real, tangible, and relied upon to help us reach and exceed our goals. Join our dynamic national network of volunteers who donate their time and talent to MWDTSA. Most of our volunteer efforts are virtual, which means you can join us from anywhere in the country and make a real contribution toward furthering our goals. We couldn’t do what we do without dedicated, hard-working, enthusiastic volunteers like you. But, what’s in it for you?

It’s rewarding. Find Meaning and Purpose at Any Age: Sharing what you’ve learned with others can be a rewarding opportunity to give back. It’s a way to show the troops that you support them.

Courtney holding and MWDTSA badgeIt’s good for your health: mental and physical. Experience Improved Health and Well-being: Many people who volunteer say that helping others gives them a good feeling inside. There seems to be an actual physical sensation that occurs when people help others that makes them experience greater energy and strength, less depression and increased feelings of self-worth.

It’s fun and makes you reinvent yourself. Make New Friends and Improve Your Mind: you’ll be meeting and working with people from across the country and varied backgrounds. If you had told me before I started that I’d have learned how to write press releases, communicated with some of the individuals that I have at various levels of the government and made as many friends from all across the military, I would not have believed you. It’s been a blast. Step into our world.

Current Volunteer Needs

Allison and a poinsettia plantWe have a unique and varied need of volunteer work, but we are always looking for motivated volunteers filled with energy and ideas. We could use some help in the following areas:

  • Solicitation of donations for care packages
  • Dog Tagz Online Store Developer/Manager
  • Photography/Videography
  • Writer/Editor—Stories and Articles for newsletter and online
  • Social Media Mogul: Facebook and Twitter
  • In Kind Donation Solicitations
  • Artwork/Graphic Design/T Shirt design and sales
  • Fund Raising
  • Volunteer Coordination and Management
  • Grant writing and much, much more.

We are a small, but mighty non-profit so every ounce of energy is important; know that you can make a powerful difference. When it comes to volunteering, passion and positivity are the only requirements.

Stop by our Volunteer Central Page for more information or to send in a volunteer application: https://www.mwdtsa.org/volunteer.html

Thanks and we look forward to welcoming you to the MWDTSA Volunteer Family.

KONGs for K9s Offers Opportunity for Individuals to Give an Item that Keeps Giving

An assortment of red and black KONG toys
Hatos balancing a KONG on his head
Hatos’ balancing act!

MWDTSA created our KONGs for K9s event about 6 or 7 years ago as a way to reach supporters across the country and to round up quality KONG products for Military Working Dogs.

The program is simple, donors make a donation of a requested KONG product at one of our partner stores. At the end of the event, the KONGs will be gathered, counted and matched by another KONG Classic by the KONG company,

This event has been a win-win-win for various reasons. It allows MWDTSA to get quality toys donated without having to spend our precious funding. It allows small pet business partners a way to bring to their customers a method to support military working dogs in a very tangible way.

These stores are accepting donations through the end of October.

Leash On Life

Ms. Julie Phye
432 Highway 1 W
Iowa City, Iowa 52246
leashonlife.net
319-354-4334

Lucky Duck Pet Stuff

Ms. Carla Wynn
3723 E. Chesapeake Beach Road (Rt. 260)
Chesapeake Beach, Maryland 20723
http://luckyduckpetstuff.com
410-257-5080

Ma and Paw’s Bakery

Ms. Diane Sanders
1227 East 3300 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84115
http://www.maandpawsbakeryinc.com
801-487-3838

Top Dogs Pet Boutique

Ms. Suzette Lindsey
http://www.topdogs.net
2615 George Busbee Parkway
Kennesaw, GA 30114
770-218-0602

Top Dogs Pet Boutique

Ms. Suzette Lindsey
900 Mansell Road Suite 13
Roswell, GA 30076
770-641-8620

Personal Beast

Ms. Jett Wyatt
8119 SE Stark St.
Portland, OR 97215
http://personalbeast.biz/
503- 445-9449

Veterans United Craft Brewery

8999 Western Way #104
Jacksonville, Florida 32256
sgamble@vubrew.com
www.vubrew.com

The four California stores will be accepting donations through the end of November.

Pet Suites

19 Journey
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
http://www.petsuites.com/
949- 425-0700

Three locations of The Animal Keeper:

The Animal Keeper

155 Saxony Road
Encinitas, CA
http://theanimalkeeper.com/
Tel: (760) 753-9366

3532 College Blvd
Oceanside, CA 92056
Tel: 760- 941-3221

12280 Oak Knoll Road
Poway, CA 92064
Tel: (858) 748-9676

Chris Willingham, Mama Lucca, Juan Rodriguez – Why we love them.

Parade magazine cover "A Marine's Best Friend" featuring MWD Lucca
NY Time's bestselling author Maria Goodavage's book cover to "TOP DOG" featuring Marine WMD Lucca.
NY Time’s bestselling author Maria Goodavage’s book cover to TOP DOG featuring Marine MWD Lucca.

Thank you to Parade magazine for sharing Lucca’s story with the world tomorrow.  Lucca K458 was a military working dog to whom we were introduced many, many years ago, while she and Chris were working together. MWDTSA is proud and honored to have supported them on multiple deployments.  We shared their story with the world via our MWDTSA Hero Dog nominations.

This team is worthy of the praise they received.  Along with Chris, we also have great respect and admiration for Juan who also played a huge role in Ms. Lucca’s life.

Could not be any prouder and I know our mutual friend, Terry, who was a Vietnam era handler and has now passed on, is smiling down today.  He was so proud of Chris.

A new book will be released soon, Top Dog: The Story of Marine Hero Lucca.  It will be a both worth reading.  We’ll be writing a review in our Kennel Talk soon.

Military Working Dogs, Memorial Day and the June 2014 National Geographic Issue – a personal journey

Vietnam Veteran and MWD handler Johnny Mayo with a military working dog

Back in the late 1990’s I became introduced to Vietnam dog handlers. As new memorials were unveiled in 2000 to honor their dogs – one at Riverside, California and one at Fort Benning, Ga. – I witnessed first hand how the dog handlers from Vietnam honored their partners. It is as if the last 15 years they have tried very hard to remember what they tried so hard to forget the previous 30 years.

Their dogs were abandoned by their government, but never by the men who worked with them. People like, Johnny Mayo, photographed above, have spent hundreds of hours working to ensure that Military Working Dogs are recognized and given their appropriate place in our history and our hearts. Our June issue of Kennel Talk newsletter will feature links to the National Geographic video interview with Johnny.

It’s also true of our own organization, MWDTSA. It was co-founded by one Vietnam era Lt.Col and currently has two Vietnam dog handler veterans on our Board of Directors. What we have as our core driving point is that never again will one generation of dog handlers be abandoned by another.

Having met hundreds of dogs and dog handlers over the course of my now 15 years associated with MWDs, I can truly say these folks are a special breed all of their own. None more special than the lady below. When the Twin Towers came down in NY on September 11th, this young woman got in fighting shape and joined the military. She is probably one of the finest dog handlers I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. So devoted to caring and training her dogs, that her home kennel recently was awarded the Kennel of the Year award.

Female handler and MWD

Donald T. Tabb
Donald T. Tabb
John Douangdara and MWD Bart
John Douangdara and MWD Bart

There have been loses, too. And, this weekend is hard for many people. Over the course of the next day, I will be placing photos on our Facebook page to honor the handlers who have been KIA during Operation Enduring Freedom an Operation Iraqi Freedom. One of the most respected of them all was Donald T. Tabb, the young man shown below.

Another death that was very hard to accept was the downing of the helicopter in August of 2011 with many members of Seal Team Six aboard. Included in that crash, was the dog handler, John Douangdara, and his dog Bart. His sister and family continue to honor him through memorials and support for military working dogs.

We ask that as you go about your weekend, you take time to pause and remember all of those who have been lost in service to this country.

Puppy Love

Miss Lola on the couch

MWDTSA has a lot of heart. We have amazing donors and spectacular volunteers. We have a lot of supporters, too. Including some of the canine persuasion. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share Miss Lola’s letter to any lonely deployed K9 boys out there. What dog could resist a girl like this?

Miss Lola relaxing in the car
Miss Lola relaxing in the car

Hello, fellow fur loves! My name is Lola and I am 18 pounds of pure Pug fury. I’m a lean, mean fighting machine. (Ok, maybe not THAT lean!) My mom keeps telling me about these awesome dogs that sniff out bombs and bad guys for a living, so I wanted to get to know some of you. First things first, allow me to give you my stats:

Age: 8
Nicknames: Round Mound of Hound, Fatty McFatty
Siblings: 1 fur brother, 2 little humans
Marital Status: Single and ready to mingle, if you like curvy girls 😉
Job: Snoring so loudly that I wake up the whole house
Likes: Food, naps, food, ear rubs, food, stealing toys from the little humans, food, chewing up said toys, did I mention food??
Dislikes: Long walks, any human that doesn’t feed me, and on most days, my 2 little human siblings
Aspirations: To grow a snout and be a bad a$$ bomb dog

So there you have it, the real reason I want to get to know you…I want to know what it takes for me to become a MWP, Military Working Pug. Yeah, yeah, go ahead and laugh your furry tails off. My mom calls me “tank” for a reason! I plow through anything that stands in my way and I’m one tough cookie. Any advice that you fellow fur loves could give me would be great. Whew, I’m pumped just thinking about the possibilities! In the mean time, I will start training to become one of the best and brightest of the US Military…right after my nap.

To keep you wanting more, I have attached a picture of my lovely physique. I’m sure you’re panting heavily after seeing this, hope to hear from you soon!

Should any suitors be interested in writing to Miss Lola, you can reach her via her very cool mom, Nikki. nikki@mwdtsa.org

It’s A KONG Thing

Hatos balancing a KONG on his head

Thanks to all of our great partners in our KONGs for K9s events, we received matching KONGs today. In fact, so many were matched at one time, that we were asked to have them delivered to a store, because they were going to ship via a pallet. Stepping in to accept the donation on our behalf were local owners of TC Country, Fabio and Sabine Yepes.

KONG toys are a favorite of Military Working Dogs (MWDs) and handlers. The bounce, texture and toughness makes them a perfect toy for a very motivated dog; a great reward for hard work put in by our MWDs.

Once delivered, we received the call from Fabio and Sabine so we rushed up to accept the boxes that arrived and stopped for a moment to take some photos. Inspired by one of our favorite MWD photos, Hatos balancing a KONG on his head, Fabio learned to do the same trick.

Apparently, you can teach an old dog a new trick, as demonstrated by our friend below.

Balancing a KONG on his head

Thanks to all of MWDTSA’s KONGs for K9s partners, the KONG Company matched us one for one.

KONGs in a box

The shipment should last a few months! At least through our next round of care packages.

An assortment of red and black KONG toys

We are appreciative of the hundreds of supporters whose purchase of one KONG at a time allowed us this amazing donation from the KONG Company.

Sorting through KONGs in boxes

Walking Post

Duke X601

Walking post was my responsibility, along with the handler the Air Force assigned to me. Heading towards nightfall, we loaded in the back of a deuce and a half and then drove out, with several other teams, to be posted along the perimeter of our Air Base.

My responsibility was serious. I had to stand guard all night long on the stretch of boundary to which I and my human counterpart were assigned. We had to keep the base assets and personnel safe. My handler was also my responsibility. You know, he worked hard, but he had many shortcomings. Lord, he could barely hear the quiet threats of the night and he couldn’t smell a snake if it bit him– which wasn’t an idle threat.

We had maybe 200 x 200 yards to guard, depending on the terrain and conditions. There were things out there in the dark, there really were. Most nights I didn’t worry my handler, too much. We’d walk, endlessly it seemed and then, for a few brief moments, if all seemed well, we might sit to take a load off. My buddy talked a lot about a place called home and I loved to listen to his voice. Home sounded great, I could hardly wait to get there.

My handler was nervous much of the time, but heck, you couldn’t blame him. I mean he was all of 19 and sometimes there were people out there trying to kill us. And the night, well, it does take its toll when you are at war and fear is already in the forefront of your mind. Usually things went smoothly, but every so often, just enough to keep us on our toes, we were challenged. I never failed my challenge, I never failed my country, but most importantly, I never failed my partner.

I know my buddy is anguished still about the time we were in Vietnam. But, he needs to know that I’m still watching over him. I am still his “Guardian of the Night”.

During the Vietnam War, dogs like Duke X601 guarded base personnel and assets at bases across southeast Asia; Vietnam and Thailand.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Traumatic Brain Injury

I think there may be some folks wondering about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and its use to treat Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). I did some research online and thought I would share some information. Much of this information comes from the Mayo Clinic website which is a website that I believe is reliable.

Normally dry air contains about 21% oxygen. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized room. The air pressure in the room is raised up to three times higher than normal air pressure. Under these conditions your lungs can gather up to three times more oxygen. As this oxygen circulates through the body, release of growth factors and stem cells are stimulated. These substances promote healing. Injured tissue requires increased oxygen to survive, heal and fight infection.

Currently TBI is not one of the injuries or illnesses traditionally treated with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. Its effectiveness in this condition is considered unsupported by research/scientific evidence. Therefore most insurances will not cover this treatment and the VA does not provide it. However, some physicians/neurologists think that it is effective in treating TBI. Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment is typically an outpatient treatment and does not require hospitalization

As with all treatments or medications there are potential complications. These include temporary nearsightedness, seizures as a result of too much oxygen in the central nervous system, organ damage caused by air pressure changes and middle and inner ear damage including ear drum rupture due to the increased air pressure.

Since TBI affects so many parts of a persons life and presents so many ongoing challenges, I think it is certainly understandable that a person might want to pursue any treatment that might help. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a treatment for TBI that may be provided by the neurologists in the Healing Heroes Network. Their website is healingheroes.org. Other physicians may also provide this treatment for TBI.

Jeanne Dedrick

NAMI Homefront Helps Educate Military Families and Veterans

Sadly, we lost another hero to PTSD. Here is a link provided by our resident mental health expert to assist people as they deal with these issues. This is information that can be used by active duty, veterans or family members.

I sometimes bristle at calling PTSD a mental illness. Maybe that’s just me, but realizing some of the situations that these men and women have found themselves in on repeated deployments, I think many of us would be facing the same demons. Standing up to it, realizing it is a challenge and talking steps to make things better- that takes strength and courage. If you know of someone that has these issues, please share the following information.