Monday, May 27, 2013

Pets for Vets, Robert E. Lee and Arlington National Cemetery, What?

Memorial Day, I want to salute all the Veterans of the United States Military to say thank you for all you've done to make our country great! PAWS TO YOU!!!! WOOF!!!!

A few weeks ago at the Pet Fiesta in Reston, Virginia, my human and I were walking around photographing when we met Kim Phillips from Pets for Vets. We chatted some and learned quite a bit! Barkingly pawsome at what they do. So, I decided to use my extremely talented writing skills to let you know about the program.

Pawingly, the Pets for Vets program supports veterans by providing second chances when rescuing and training shelter pets then pairing them with America’s veterans who could benefit from a companion animal. A brilliant idea!!

Millions of dogs and cats which could make excellent companion animals, if given the chance, are euthanized each year. BARK!!!!! The dedicated animal trainers of Pets for Vets go to shelters to evaluate and rescue them.  The dogs are provided the necessary training to ensure that they can assimilate into a home, which is quite different from a shelter environment.

For the vets, the rates of suicide, family abuse, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which face our military service people returning to civilian life after their duty can cause quite a few problems like unemployment, broken relationships, addiction, depression and the list could go on. Pets for Vets believes that companion animals can be a life saver for them!

As you know, many medical studies show that dogs can significantly improve the well-being of a human quite a bit- just ask my human who’s actually kinda normal now!  WOOF!!!
"Lenny and Katie"
Used by Permission of Pets for Vets
These studies have shown that companion animals significantly improve mental and physical health, including reducing stress, depression and anxiety, symptoms experienced by many serving in the military.

So, how does this all work? The Pets for Vets team interview each veteran to determine what they might want in a companion animal. The team matches the personality and lifestyle to find a perfect veteran pet match! Once this is done, the pet spends time with a trainer learning basic obedience and other valuable behaviors needed to live with the new owner. Barkingly pawsome! The pet often learns to become comfortable with wheelchairs or behaviors needed to help with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

So who can benefit from this program?  Any veteran with a condition which could benefit from a trained companion animal and are able to care for a pet, are eligible receive a Pets for Vets companion animal. Visit here to apply.

Maybe you are not a veteran or a service member or ever served in the military, but you are interested in donating money or your time to support a cause for veterans or one that helps dogs too, please visit Pets-For-Vets Donation.  Please note, they are not able to take animals as donations since they must match the animal with a veterans personality.
"Entrance to Arlington National Cemetery"
(C) Allen Pearson
On Memorial Day, we remember those who served our country and have died during that time. One of the famous cemeteries for the military is Arlington National Cemetery. Robert E. Lee rescued a dog and wrote about it.  In memory of the Veterans we honor today, and their pets, I'd like his writing:

"The dog referred to was a black-and-tan terrier named "Spec," very bright and intelligent and really a member of the family, respected and beloved by ourselves and well known to all who knew us. My father picked up its mother in the "Narrows" while crossing from Fort Hamilton to the fortifications opposite on Staten Island. She had doubtless fallen overboard from some passing vessel and had drifted out of sight before her absence had been discovered. He rescued her and took her home, where she was welcomed by his children and made much of. She was a handsome little thing, with cropped ears and a short tail. My father named her "Dart." She was a fine ratter, and with the assistance of a Maltese cat, also a member of the family, the many rats which infested the house and stables were driven away or destroyed. She and the cat were fed out of the same plate, but Dart was not allowed to begin the meal until the cat had finished.

Spec was born at Fort Hamilton, and was the joy of us children, our pet and companion. My father would not allow his tail and ears to be cropped. When he grew up, he accompanied us everywhere and was in the habit of going into church with the family. As some of the little ones allowed their devotions to be disturbed by Spec's presence, my father determined to leave him at home on those occasions. So the next Sunday morning he was sent up to the front room of the second story. After the family had left for church he contented himself for a while looking out of the window, which was open, it being summer time. Presently impatience overcame his judgment and he jumped to the ground, landed safely notwithstanding the distance, joined the family just as they reached the church, and went in with them as usual, much to the joy of the children. After that he was allowed to go to church whenever he wished. My father was very fond of him, and loved to talk to him and about him as if he were really one of us."

Robert E. Lee & His Pets- Excerpt from Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee, by Robert Edward Lee

"Arlington National Cemetery"
(C) Allen Pearson

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