Tribute to PTSD Service Dogs

Chesty Puller, one of the first PTSD service dogs.

Chesty Puller, one of the first PTSD service dogs.

 

Jack is an idea man.  Big thinking.  Lots of vision.  Follow through and fitting together the ten thousand pieces necessary to go from mental image to successful event?  He’s not so good at the detail work.  So a month or so ago, when he told me he planned to put together a Tribute to PTSD Service Dogs on November 10th, the Marine Corp Birthday, I had some trepidation. 

Okay, I sort of shook all over.

But, one of the ways I survive marriage to the big guy is by doing my very best, trying my hardest, forcing myself not to take responsibility for his actions or decisions. 

For years, people used to greet me with, “Are you keeping Jack out of trouble?”

To which I always replied, “I’m doing my best, but not having a lot of success here recently.” 

Finally, one day, I just stared at the person asking the question and answered, “Well, no I’m not keeping Jack out of trouble.  Turns out that’s not my job.”

Who says ten years of therapy doesn’t work?

So, while I did agree to be his speaker at this Tribute to PTSD Service Dogs, I made it clear that he was in charge of everything.  This latest adventure began, as I said, about six weeks ago.  Today I could not stand it one more hour and I talked him into sitting down and putting on paper what he had so far, and what still needed doing in order for this event to happen.  It was a long list. We checked off two things as done. 

However, we marked another six must-haves in red ink with the words ‘tentative yes’.

To me a tentative yes means no.  To Jack, the same phrase means no problem.

Now, that might mean simply that I’m negative and he’s positive.  Really.  It could mean no more than that.  I tell myself this to ease the shaking and twitching when I think of two hundred veterans showing up for a barbecue of hotdog buns.  Well, to be fair, hotdog buns and tentative hotdogs and game hens and hamburgers and paper plates and soft drinks and six side-dishes.

The thing is, I’ve seen Jack at work before.  In the past he’s put together a formal evening of recognition for over 100 POW’s, a barbecue where 500 Vietnam Vets and their families were fed and entertained.  Hell, the man got me through relocation to Panama with two giant service dogs attached to our wrists. He often has no more than a vague image of what should happen right up until about two days past the last possible moment of salvation for his latest project.  Then, with some God blessed hail Mary pass, he succeeds in putting together a miracle.

The worry is that he’s not as young as he used to be.  Which, okay, none of us is.  But Jack hasn’t gotten the memo.  He still thinks he can bull his way through any challenge with Marine Corp grit, a loud bellow, and a huge grin.

I’m less sure of this tactic.

So, stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted.  Or, if you’re anywhere near Fayetteville, Arkansas, come on out to Wedington Lake on November 10th from 1-4 and see for yourself.  I hear there’s going to be a marching band.

Freedom Dog

Chesty

My Life with a Wounded Warrior, a collection of expanded essays from this blog, is due to be released in a few weeks.  A Special Author’s Edition of Clueless Gringos in Paradise, the humorous account of moving to Panama with two enormous service dogs, will be available at just about the same time.  That’s a big deal.  Too me, anyway.  Two books out within a day or two of each other.  Yippee Skippy, awesome possum, and hot damn, as they say in Arkansas.  Or, as they say where I come from, damn fucking straight.

Kim Pennell at Pen-L Publishing came up with the concept of donating a portion of the sale of each book to a Veterans Organization.  I loved the idea.  Let out a little squeal of joy when I read her email suggesting it. 

I’ve spent some time the last few days looking around for a worthy veteran’s group. 

But, before I tell you about that, here’s what you need to know about me.  I’ve never, ever, been in a position to donate money to. . .well. . .to any cause.  I married at eighteen.  My husband received his draft notice on our wedding day (I didn’t have time to wear the new off him before he was in basic).   My first son was born on my twenty-first birthday.  Two more boys followed in joyous succession.  Then, I was a divorced mom trying to decide which son got new Payless tennis shoes and which two boys had to go another month with rubber bands around the toes of their old ones. 

Then I married Jack, and while Jack gives generously to individuals, he does not give to groups or organizations.  Not ever.

So, I was pretty damn excited about the idea of donating my own money to a cause of my choosing.  I knew immediately I wanted to help unite veterans with PTSD service dogs.  That much was a no brainer.  Chesty saved Jack’s life.  That’s not hyperbole.  Chesty, beautiful PTSD service dog that he is, saved Jack’s life. 

There are several good groups out there training dogs to assist vets with their PTSD.  I investigated a few.  Sat dead-still in front of the computer with a giant grin on my face when I found Freedom Dogs. 

I’m still working out all the details, but I’m trying to arrange things so Freedom Dogs receives about $3 on each copy of My Life with a Wounded Warrior, and $1 for each copy of Clueless Gringos in Paradise.   I’ll keep you posted on the details, but, for right now, please, join me in my joy of being able to give a little something to a cause that is dear to me. 

Having my own money and being able to give that money to a wonderful cause, now that’s freedom.