Joey and 3½ year old yellow lab Katrina have been working together as a team for more than two years. Joey suffered a TBI when he retired from the military but continues to make great strides in his ongoing recovery with Katrina always by his side. Joey and Katrina recently took up the team sport of Agility.

It began with his trainer in NY and Joey recently had the opportunity to visit and work at the Agility training facility of the 2016 Westminster Agility Champion where their love for the sport flourished.  Agility is a high-energy competition, for which canine competitors have to weave around a series of poles, fly through a tunnel and climb down a teetering board. It takes hours of work to perfect precision and speed.

Joey’s dad sent us a video of Joey and Katrina practicing their agility routine. His dad said, “Joe & Katrina are working on silent commands and agility.  I never expected Joey to be able to do something like this.  Katrina is pushing him to new levels of awareness.

Joey & Katrina

Veteran Jerry uses a wheelchair to navigate through his daily life. He and 3½ year old Golden Retriever, Storm, work together like a well-oiled machine. Storm is always present at Jerry’s side and assists him with his daily activities, which enables Jerry to be independent.

Jerry recently sent this e-mail to VMF’s  lead trainer. “There are many things Storm likes to do. His favorite is getting me ready for a bath. I can’t remove my pants or socks so Storm has a way of helping. 

First I kick my shoes off and he picks up one shoe at a time and gives it to me to place on the counter. Next he pulls off my pants one leg at a time and hands them to me. Then he pulls off my socks and gives them to me. The final step is to retrieve clean clothes, first the socks and finally the pants.

Storm absolutely loves helping but I find it interesting when he helps with my bath, everything has to be done in specific order. Storm continues to be amazing!”

Jerry & Storm

“With many service dog organizations, you get the dog, and that is the whole deal.  It’s a great deal, but it’s the whole deal.   With VMF, the veteran gets VMF. ”  

   – Veteran Rachael with service dog Jug

My dog, Jug, fed me last week.  The true-believers won’t doubt this for a second, but the skeptics will need a bit more story and back-story.  I understand.  So, here goes: Jug, my beautiful, brilliant boy, has stayed by my side as companion and caretaker for the past two years.

Summer 2016, a year and a half after VMF blessed me with Jug, the greatest gift in my life, I left the dry Arizona desert for the wet-blanket heat of Wilmington, NC.  Prior to departing AZ, I vetted the local VA clinic in Wilmington as thoroughly as I could, asking the clinic about a neurologist and a physiologist for complete TBI care, which I was assured they had.  Well, they had a clinic, but not for two years.  So, when I had a TBI relapse in September, three months after establishing my Wilmington household, I found myself without access to adequate medical care.

Months later, guided by the wisdom of the VMF team, I realized I needed much more than my area VA was willing or able to provide.  So, to Northern Virginia I came.  Since November, I have gotten care from the best the Department of Defense and the VA have to offer, but it hasn’t been easy. VMF has come together to support me in ways I never dreamed when I applied for a service dog.

So, back to Jug.  My last marathon-migraine began on Valentine’s Day.  Jug watched me suffer and suffered with me.  His brow furrowed; his eyes showed deep consternation.  When I hadn’t eaten in days, he decided he’d had enough.  As I sat on the edge of the bed, my boy strode purposefully (and somewhat pridefully) into the room, something held gently in his powerful jaws.  He tried to drop a damp bundle into my lap but had trouble getting it past his front canines.  I relieved him of his prize, laughing to see that he’d brought a Saran-wrapped piece of cornbread from the kitchen counter to me.  My dog fed me, and I love him for it.  Now you have the whole story.

Rachael & Jug