Grateful

Hey Spike’s Pack!

This week’s blog post will be a short one. I want to tell all of you “thanks” for helping us with our mission. We are down to the last 3 weeks of 2019 and we need to help about 15 more K9’s to reach our goal of 1000 k9’s helped this year. If you know of any working Dogs who need help, please send them our way!

I’ll send you off with this video I took today of my Service Dog “Mina” taking a break from me studying at the Sterling Memorial Library, to do a little work on her own. I hide her toy, in this case, her shark, and then ask her to find it. It’s located here:

I hope you have a great week. I will be studying for and taking finals.

Be well!


Consequences

Recently another hero K9 gave his life while serving his team and community. Here is a screenshot:

We ask these K9’s to do sometimes violent and very dangerous things so that the human officers can go home to their families and so we can live in safety. The Chief wrote, “I want you to know the community is safe.” K9’s help our first responders accomplish that often-taken-for-granted safety.

It is a serious reminder to me that there are consequences involved with this type of work and I want to remind all of you, the Spike’s Pack, that we are on a mission to give these amazing K9’s everything they need to succeed in the dangerous and consequential work we ask of them.

Occasionally we get a person who comments on social media telling us that “Dogs shouldn’t be involved in this type of work.” I appreciate that sentiment, and I may have similar personal feelings but that isn’t going to change the fact that they, these amazing working dogs, are presently actively involved in saving humans overseas and here at home.

It is important to understand that the K9’s don’t have a voice. They need an advocate. Spike’s Pack, that is where you come in. We can be their advocate. We have helped 977 K9’s to date and want to have helped 1000 by the end of the year, thirty days away.

How you can be an advocate:

1- Talk about the work these K9’s do and the way Spike’s K9 Fund wants to help them. Do it on social media and in your community.

2- Donate.

3- Learn about their work and what we ask of them. Educate yourself.

I genuinely believe that if more Americans knew what we ask of these incredible K9’s, they would want to be part of the advocacy. A little work or donation goes far in helping them.

Here is one web resource.

The google machine can help you find more.

Lastly, I want to share a photo of a recently returned working dog. Her name is “Misa” and you, our supporters, helped outfit her and her human before they left. She fought ISIS in northern Syria alongside Special Operations and their local partner forces. She found bombs and bit a few of those folks when they were trying to kill her team. She and all the members of her team came home to their families. Think about that.

Thank you for helping to take care of the Hero K9’s who take care of our human heroes.

Have a great week.


Spike’s takes Colorado!

Yesterday we were fortunate to be a part of a leadership conference at Adams State University in Alamosa Colorado. We met a great group of FFA kids who represented their families and communities with class. Our speech was just a small part of a larger event pointed at creating leaders in the community.

We were able to meet some of the local law enforcement professionals, including “K9 Rocky.”

We were able to talk about our mission and we were received with generosity and kindness. We sold some swag and raised $ for the K9’s. I think we added a few new members to the “Spike’s Pack.”

We are grateful to the event organizer, Ms. Sarah Stober. It takes a significant amount of courage to plan, fund and execute a large community event like the “BEST” conference.

Thank you to everyone who was a part of that great event in the great state of Colorado.


Veteran’s Day

Veterans Day 2019-

I think about the humans and Dogs who fought for our way of life.  I think about those I grew up reading about and those who I served with. 

I think about our American journey. Our collective effort to create a land of freedom and opportunity and I am forever grateful that I won the birth lottery, meaning I was born in the United States of America.  

Our collective existence is given to us by those who are willing to give their life for something meaningful, something important.

This image shows a human and his K9 as they get ready to head out into “no-mans-land” where they will be confronted with an array of deadly unknowns.

The courage of this volunteer and his loyal asset is admirable and something we cherish.

The question I ask myself on this day is “what am I personally doing to help brave souls like these?”

Thanks to you, Spike’s Pack family, I can answer that together, we are doing much to take care of those who write checks in blood. Those who so believe that we are fortunate to have the opportunities and freedoms provided by our republic, that they will lay down their lives for it.

So, on this Veterans Day, I say “thank you.”

Thank you to those who go into harm’s way for us. Thank you for those who went into harm’s way for us. And lastly, thank you to those who care for the veterans and their families.

Happy Veterans Day.


APK Charities-

This weekend we were fortunate to be a part of an annual 5k race/Ruck to remember Captain Andrew Pedersen-Keel, a Special Forces Officer killed while serving our nation in Afghanistan. This was the fourth year in a row that APK Charites generously donated some of the funds from this event to our mission. It was special to witness a group of Special Americans who had walked to Guilford, Connecticut from Arlington, Virginia in honor of their fallen brothers.

Captain Pedersen-Keel’s mother “Helen” is an incredibly strong woman who, through her kind and generous example, teaches anyone in her grid-square, how to be a better person.

We were fortunate to have a couple of my classmates from Yale come out with us early this Saturday morning to help us talk about our mission and take part in the memorial events.

Here are a few photos:

We are grateful to APK for including us in this amazing event again and helping us help the K9’s who serve our nation and communities. It is very rewarding to meet new people and explain what we do for the Dogs, especially when we can help honor a great American who gave his all for us.

Thank you to the Spike’s Pack for helping us spread the word about our mission.


Wicked Good Support

Yesterday was a great day. The folks from J&A Racing put on another incredible community event. This one, the Wicked 10k, is one that they have been doing for several years. In the last 3 years, they have made Spike’s K9 Fund their “premier” charity, which means that they give us a significant amount of support. Dewey, the Frenchie, Emily, our Director of Operations, along with Annemarie, our Communications Asset, and Carrie, our North Carolina representative, plus Tim and Sherry Johnson, our volunteers from Charlottesville VA, took part in the many events associated with the actual race. This incredible event gives us an opportunity to share our mission with the thousands of people who come to run or to support the runners.

Here are a few photos:

Todays blog post is all a big “Thank you” to J&A Racing. We want to thank them for their incredible support and for including us in their hard work and community building. J&A Racing has been, and continues to be a source of inspiration to us. They also demonstrate to us how to organize and conscientiously create opportunities for community.

J&A Racing is a great American crew and we are grateful to be associated with them and their work.

Thank you to them and the many people who supported us during their event-

We are Grateful.


Five Years.

Hello supporters. Today’s blogpost is a different one. 19th October, 2019 is our 5 year anniversary. 5 years. Wow.

Spike and me, 2006 Iraq


I fondly remember when Spike’s K9 Fund started. A K9 that needed some medical assistance. I remember looking at his handler and thinking about how I felt when the K9’s I’d worked with needed help and how much I felt responsible for taking care of them. I remember feeling the sting of shame and guilt that I couldn’t help some of the K9’s I’d worked with. I remember holding or watching them as they died.

A friend helped me create the original version of our logo and setting up our very first fundraising campaign with sweatshirts. I remember putting the campaign on Facebook and hitting “enter” and wondering if anyone would want to help this Dog.

I was at a critical point in my personal life. I’d recently retired from the Navy and was trying to figure out my next move. I was fresh off of some serious mental health struggles and was pointing myself in the right direction.

The outpouring of positive support was shocking to me. I didn’t realize how many people loved the Dogs the way I do. I didn’t expect the outpouring of support and generosity. I raised over six-thousand dollars and with that amount I had enough money to pay for the medical treatment for the K9 and for the travel costs that he and his human handler would incur as they traveled to another state to get the needed surgery. I had some money leftover and at that point, I went to work on figuring out how to establish a 501c3. So many people helped me. So many friends and strangers stepped up to help a veteran who’d lost Dogs in battle. It seriously gave me a new mission and helped me to gain a new purpose after my long military career.

See, this whole thing is very personal to me.

Dogs saved my life. Many times. They also saved the lives of my colleagues on many occasions.

We ask a lot of them. We bring them into our world, one in which human animals commit violence and ugliness on a regular basis. We ask them to use their senses and physical abilities to protect us and our communities and nation. We ask them to go to war with us and to commit violence to protect us. We ask them to find bombs, or drugs or lost children or elderly humans. We ask them to enrich our lives and what we give them in return is a pittance compared to what we ask of them.

It is great to see the #’s that reflect the community we’ve built around trying to protect these Dogs.

We have almost 200k followers in social media land. We have raised over $3,000,000.00. We have helped over 921 K9’s in 45 states and our goal is to have helped 1000 by the end of the year.

I am so very proud to be a part of a potent impact organization. One that affects change for K9’s that serve our nation and it’s communities.

I look forward to the next five years and I hope to make more friends and raise more $ and help more Dogs. I look forward to being a household name for working K9’s in need.

Lastly, I want to thank you, “Spike’s Pack” for helping me realize that we can work together in love and goodness to help these amazing animals.

Your generosity and kindness has transformed the lives of many K9’s and the humans who work with and who are protected by their courage and hard work.

So on this 5th anniversary I say “Thank you.”

We are grateful.


Spike’s Spirit

It’s been almost 5 years since Spike’s K9 Fund was founded.

It was founded when I saw a need and decided to follow Spike’s example. Spike was an incredibly smart dog. He was driven and he was a problem-solver.

Spike’s drive carried him through the difficulties of life. When things became hard, Spike showed his true nature. He was never satisfied. He always sought to be the most effective dog he could be.

I want the organization who bears his name to share his qualities.

Today we are about 90 days from the end of the year. We have an organizational goal to have helped 1000 K9’s by the end of the year. Presently we are at 910 K9’s helped. So essentially, we need to help 90 K9’s in 90 Days.

Spike was small. He weighed about 62 lbs. He packed a lot of punch with his 62 lbs. His presence on the battlefield was felt by many, despite his size. Spike’s K9 Fund is small. We have a small core team of employees and volunteers and we get things done. We rely heavily on the “Spike’s Pack” of supporters who always find a way to help us get to our goals.

That is the theme for this weeks post.

We NEED your help in reaching our goal this year.

We need to get the word out to the small law enforcement agencies in the rural parts of the country who may not have heard about us. We need you to share our mission. We have a large social media presence but we need to have those of you who follow us help us spread the word even more.

Because of the culture of criticism and condemnation, most police departments don’t even read emails or answer cold calls coming from organizations offering assistance. They are too jaded about things to trust that there is an organization like ours who asks only for a few photos of the dogs we help but donates protective equipment and medical care cost assistance to K9’s nationwide.

We need you, the Spike’s Pack, to reach out when you see an opportunity.

In order for us to stay at our fighting weight of 62 lbs, we need a big support crew to help us focus our work.

Please consider sharing this blogpost or our website or mentioning us to your local PD.

Please reach out to us if you want or need any help with materials to promote our efforts, or if you want to hold an informational or fundraising event.

Spike was a force multiplier. He made an impact.

By his example, so do we.


Medical assist GuideStar​

Back in the early 2000’s I was allowed to go on a “buy” trip to the Netherlands with the fellows who had been chosen to pick K9’s for our unit. It was an amazing trip for many reasons, but for me it was memorable mostly because I met Combat Dog Diesel. At the time Diesel’s name was “Harry” which I thought was fine, but regardless….

The people in charge of testing the Dogs had a series of tests that they put our candidates through. One of the tests was designed to see if the Dog was confident on his own, without his handler. Harry, AKA Diesel was taken out into the woods and secured by a fairly short line to a sturdy tree.

After Diesel was secured, the handler walked back the 700 meters to where the rest of us were observing. We waited for about 20 minutes and we watched Diesel. Diesel seemed pretty damn content sitting in the woods smelling the smells and relaxing. Then it was time for the second part of the test. One of the observers was a trained “helper” or decoy and he had a long sleeve hoodie on and underneath one of the sleeves he had a thin bite-sleeve hidden. He walked towards Diesel and acted pretty shady. He didn’t walk a straight line to Diesel, he walked in a weaving pattern and acted sketchily, sometimes looking at Diesel and sometimes hiding his face.

Diesel just sat there on his haunches and watched this chuckle-head get closer. This was the key part. How would Diesel react when this sketchy looking human came towards him aggressively?

Well, the human started picking up speed and acting combative as he worked his way to within striking distance of Diesel. Diesel didn’t bat an eye, he waited and waited and when he knew the human was close enough, he launched at the “bad guy” nearly ripping the tree out of the ground and locked on to the sleeve. Diesel was not afraid. Not ever. Not for one second. Needless to say, Diesel came home with us.

Diesel ended up doing 8 combat deployments. on his 6th deployment Diesel was shot through the chest and damn nearly died. He was sent home to rehab and then, a year later, he deployed again.

Diesel was a serious badass and he served this nation well. When it was time for him to retire, he was adopted by one of my teammates. He and his wife took Diesel on knowing that he would have some medical issues but they weren’t sure how much those would cost.

Turns out they were pretty expensive. When the Military retires a k9, the family who adopt that Dog is responsible for all of its care. Most military or law enforcement families don’t have a big enough chunk of discretionary income to drop 5-$10,000.00 on veterinary bills.

That’s where we step in. Diesel needed some medical care and we were fortunate to have generous donors known as the “Spike’s Pack” who stepped up and help us take care of him.

Diesel lived his few retirement years like he deserved. With comfort and love.

All of the k9’s who work to serve our communities or our nation, deserve to be well cared for. It is why we have it as one of our campaigns. Recently we helped a former USMC K9, who did deployments overseas on behalf of our nation and then came home and worked for a Police Department.

His medical bills were over $10k. He deserved the care. Our Spike’s Pack supporters have given us the ability to make sure the Dogs are cared for.

This is done in the name of Combat Dog Diesel.

We need your help to make sure we can cover these k9’s whether they are active or retired. We ask them to use their bodies to help protect us. It is our duty to give them the best life we can give them.

Combat Dog Diesel Campaign. Check it out. Help us help them.


Yale commences!

This is a pic taken with some of the smart people I run into every day here at Yale University. Mina has been widely accepted here. Probably more so than the old guy with all the tattoos! 😂

Spike’s K9 Fund needs to grow and to do so, I need to grow. In my few short weeks here I have been treated extremely well and the course work is significant. At every turn there is someone, a faculty member, other students, friends here at Yale, who offers their help. Never in my life have I had so many people in the ring with me swinging away. It is amazing.

As the semester progresses I will get my feet under me and be able to reach out to the people up here in the Yale community to share our mission. While I’m doing that, I would ask a small favor, please, if you are a member of the #spikespack, post on social media and share a link to our website so that more people hear about us and spread the word.

We need to help more Dogs. Our goal for this year was to help 1000 K9’s. We are at about 910 right now. We need to help a bunch more!

Lastly,

GO BULLDOGS!