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— September 16, 2014 —

Help a Veteran and His Service Dog
by Daniel McElroy Jr.

As you may know, in addition to operating Bark Avenue Playcare, Inc, Amy and I along with our Board of Directors also operate K9 4 KEEPS, NFP. K9 4 KEEPS is a 501 (c) 3 charity organization. Being a Veteran myself, this week’s Tail is about a cause that means a lot to me personally. I hope you will support it.

At K9 4 KEEPS, we have a mission. That mission is to help people keep their dogs for life and help those dogs to live the most fulfilling life possible. To that end, we have included in our mission statement that education and training of dog owners is the foundation of responsible pet ownership. As an organization, we have always included the possibility of helping owners obtain training even if they had financial limitations.

As part of that commitment, we are taking on Athena, a dog owned by Corporal (Cpl) R. Athena is not available for adoption. She is currently Cpl. R’s companion dog and will be trained as a service dog for him.

Cpl. R is a U.S. Army veteran of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is asking to remain anonymous, which we will respect for obvious reasons. Cpl. R. has obtained a dog with the intention of her being his service dog for PTSD and some combat-related physical disabilities. Since getting his dog, he has been unable to work due to these injuries. While the U.S. Army is providing some disability payment, it is not nearly enough for him to support his family and get the training his dog needs.

We asked Cpl. R. to describe what having this dog means to him. Here is what he said in his own words:
“Here I am several years later after the military with PTSD. That’s what I was diagnosed with while I was in the military. I suffer from certain things due to what I did, saw and experienced. Some of things I go through is anxiety, always on guard, hesitant to go places with large crowds, and the one that gets me the most is excluding myself from everything and anything because of all I mentioned above. It’s a big burden on my life because I don’t like to leave my home, which also puts a burden on my wife and kids. However, I will go places that will allow me to take my dog with me. I feel as if she gives me a sense of security, and provides a good distraction for me to forget about all the things that hinder me from going places. But for now that’s as far as I can go with my pup. I think with the proper training for my pup she can have a huge impact on my rehabilitation.”
K9 4 KEEPS is holding a dedicated campaign to raise the necessary funds to get the equipment and training for Cpl. R’s service dog. Bark Avenue Playcare, Inc with help from Windy City Working Dogs Inc, Amy Pawlik of 4 Paws K9 Training and Emily Stoddard of Canine Sports Dog Training will be providing the training. Both Amy and Emily are service dog trainers who specialize in some of the specific areas of service work that this dog-handler team will need. Bark Avenue Playcare, Inc, Windy City Working Dogs, Inc, Amy and Emily have all agreed to donate significant portions of their fees to get this hero and his dog the help they need. Even with all of this, we are looking at a 4–6 month training program and are looking to raise approximately $3,000.00. Any funds raised above and beyond this amount will be held in reserve and used for another Veteran’s Service Animal.

Tax-deductible donations can be made here: Help A Veteran and His Service Dog and THANK YOU in advance.

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