The Search and Rescue Community is one that is largely self-financed. From the purchase, care and feeding, to the equipment and training time, Search and Rescue Dogs and their humans are always operating on the bare minimum.
Unfortunately, most of us don’t appreciate the need for SAR Dogs until we absolutely need one to find a lost child or confused adult. We generally don’t think about these amazing teams until a disaster rolls in and we need to use them.
This is unfortunate. These K9 Teams often work in very austere conditions and the amount of training, and therefore , “time” it takes to properly train these K9’s, goes unrecognized, as do their needs.
Spike’s has helped many SAR K9 teams across the country. From avalanche Dogs in Sun Valley, Idaho to the SAR Teams on the eastern seaboard, we try to help these teams with the proper equipment and medical cost assistance.
It seems like we see the need for these amazing K9 teams increasing as our world seems fraught with fires and hurricanes and other natural and unnatural disasters.
Spike’s aims to be an asset for these teams and with your help, we will make sure that they go to do their jobs with the best chance for preservation and success.
Hello my friends, and happy Tuesday. It strikes me that we could all use some positivity in our daily roll though the 2020 landscape. Well, here is some positivity for you. Let me introduce you to one of the most motivated and effective of the “Spike’s Supporters,” Renee Criswell.
For the last three years, Renee and her friends at the Clubhouse bar and grill in Virginia Beach, have held a fundraiser for us and every year it gets more and more prolific.
This year, Renee lost her mind! She made over 200 cheese-cakes and sold them to earn $ for Spikes! She also made over 150 jello-shots for the people who attended the fundraiser! At the fundraiser, Renee, who is a lovely woman, but given her passion for Spike’s, one could only describe her fundraising tactics as “guerrilla warfare!” She moves through the crowd, smiling and cajoling and laughing and all the while, surreptitiously strong-arming the crowd for more donations! She has, over the last 3 years, raised over $20k for the K9’s.
Renee, when she isn’t working as a tier-one fundraiser, is an arson investigator with her sweet Dog, Caylee. It is always eye-opening to me to witness the selfless work of amazing people like Renee and to know that they are doing it because they believe in Spike’s K9 Fund’s mission. Taking care of the Dogs who work on behalf of Americans.
There are many examples of awful and selfish behavior in America these days. Renee Criswell is an example of what we should all aspire to be; an American, NOT an American’t.
Renee, thank you so much for your hard work and time, and most importantly, thank you for pointing the enormous heart that beats inside your chest, towards helping us take care of these amazing creatures that enrich our lives in so many ways.
We at Spike’s K9 Fund are constantly working towards protecting and caring for the K9’s who serve our nation and the communities that make it up.
We provide equipment and medical cost assistance for working and retired K9’s.
We look for new and needed ways to help K9’s and our mission evolves as we are presented with new realities. The things we can influence will change with the organizations that employ K9’s. We will continue to develop and to try to find ways to weave through the human bureaucracies that control the volunteers who use K9’s on our behalf.
Every Dog that goes to work for humans should never want for the best protective equipment or veterinary care. There are over 25,000 K9’s doing various public safety jobs in our nation. We need your help to reach our goal of every one of them having what they need.
In the fall of 2014, three years after I had retired from the military, I was given the opportunity to help out the Norfolk, VA Police K9 Unit. I didn’t really do much, they more or less just kind of took me in and helped me feel like I had something to offer. While doing that, I saw that there were K9 needs that the municipality couldn’t support. It was made most clear by a K9 that had an injury that needed surgery. I thought that I needed to do something for that Dog. So, I went to a friend and he helped me create Spike’s K9 Fund logo:
It was important for me to represent the K9’s that I’d served with, who had been killed in action. The four red stars represent, Spike, Toby, Falco and Remco.
Once I had that, I had some sweatshirts printed up with it and sold them using social media.
And we were off. In 2015 I received, with the help of some very good friends and their legal representation, we received the IRS documentation to be a bonafide 501c3 organization. Initially, I thought we’d need a kennel facility, but with the help of one of our former board members, Kim Wheeler, I realized that we could do far more for many more K9’s with the $ we’d be spending on building and operating a structure. So we initially started with taking care of medical cost assistance and then K9 Krijger was shot and killed and I knew by looking at this X-Ray:
we needed to do something about this. Krijger had been shot by a man who’d been involved in a brutal assault on his spouse and when he threatened the officers, Krijger was sent. The suspect shot Krijger twice with his hand-gun, killing him. At this point, I knew that we needed to provide these Dogs with the best and most utilitarian body-armor available. It was made by K9 Storm and the vests are light and custom fit. K9 Storm has documented cases of K9’s being shot in their vests and going to work the next shift. We have put these vests on close to 600 K9’s.
Later, we looked at the # of K9’s who die in hot vehicles, and we started a relationship with a very good company that provides heat alert and door popper systems. Ace K9, gives excellent equipment and great service. We’ve provided over 100 of their systems to handlers across the country.
Lastly, I want to share this:
This is from a donor in 2015. I kept this and keep it where I can see it. We take the generosity that our supporters show us, very seriously.
Spike’s K9 Fund has helped close to 1200 K9’s in 48 states. There are approximately 25,000 working K9’s in Law enforcement, Search and Rescue, and military roles in the US and our goal is to ensure that they are all cared for. Our mission will continue to expand and we will continue finding ways to help these innocent creatures, Dogs that we bring into our crazy human world.
In closing, I had my life saved in violent combat situations by K9’s and I also have had my life saved by K9’s in non-violent battles I am fighting. I’m not alone. K9’s deserve our best effort.
Thank you for supporting us and thank you for caring about these amazing souls.
In 2006, I was in Iraq. Spike and I were on deployment and then one night, Spike died. I sent him to stop a human and the human started fighting him and was on top of him. I shot the human and the bullets went through the human and killed Spike.
After the ride home in the helicopter, with Spike’s body cold in my lap, and the mission debrief, and then taking his body to the Vet to get an autopsy; one in which I saw the entry and exit wound from my bullet, and then watching him be respectfully cremated, I went back to his kennel and wrote this poem by the great Pablo Neruda, on his kennel door.
“What hope to consider, what pure foreboding, what definitive kiss to bury the heart, to submit to the origins of homelessness and intelligence, smooth and sure over the eternally troubled waters?
What vital, speedy wings of a new dream angel to install on my sleeping shoulders for perpetual security, in such a way that the path through the stars of death be a violent flight begun many days and months and centuries ago?
Suppose the natural weakness of suspicious, anxious creatures all of a sudden seeks permanence in time and limits on earth, suppose the accumulated age and fatigues implacably spread like the lunar wave of a just-created ocean over lands and shorelines tormentedly deserted.
Oh, let what I am keep on existing and ceasing to exist, and let my obedience align itself with such iron conditions that the quaking of deaths and of births doesn’t shake the deep place I want to reserve for myself eternally.
Let me, then, be what I am, wherever and in whatever weather, rooted and certain and ardent witness, carefully, unstoppably, destroying and saving himself openly engaged in his original obligation.”
Today is “Women’s Equality Day,” and I’m quite keen to talk about the women here at Spike’s K9 Fund. Before I do, I’d like to write, for the record, that I believe genuine women’s equality is still a goal, and I look forward to being a part of attaining it.
Presently we have four women who are employed by Spike’s K9 Fund. In 2015 one of our incredible volunteers became the “Director of Operations.” Emily Grey knew very little about the non-profit world (joined an elite club) but was not in the least bit shy of hard work. Emily has provided the heart and soul and brains of our collective trajectory; she leans into the difficult tasks, and she keeps things pointed towards getting better every day.
Paige Widener recently joined us as our Marketing and Social Media Director. WOW! Paige has a distinct poise and strength of character. She has, in a short time, transformed the way our social media works. We are increasing our social media balance sheet while pointing our ad efforts in the best direction. We are now in a time when most social interactions occur in the digital realm, and Paige is the right woman for the job.
Annemarie Weaver is our Communications Asset. Funny, because Annemarie is very quiet, and when she does speak, she gets to the point without any wasted words. In my mind, Annemarie is the perfect comms director. Annemarie is also a full-time Police K9 Officer, and she does amazing things for her community in that capacity as well.
Monika Krasniqi is our intern and a classmate of mine at Yale. She made quite an impact on me when I first met her. She is very similar to Annemarie because she doesn’t speak much, but when she does, you ought to listen. She is an incredible asset to our crew. She has become our “go-to” voice-over and video specialist. She created the map you now see on our website, she has written copy for us and I believe, in the not-to-distant future, Monika will be doing great things for our community.
Every day, we execute our mission because of the talented and driven women who collectively push us forward. I’m grateful for the strength and insight that the women involved with Spike’s K9 Fund provide.
Today is pretty special. I want to thank all of the various organizations that we have worked with on this National Non-Profit Day.
We have learned how to effectively operate in the not for profit world because of solid advice and guidance. First off, the people who run the Queen Elizabeth Garden Foundation were instrumental in getting me on the right track mentally. Additionally, our friends at the Seena Magowitz Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer have helped us to understand fundraising and organization on a very high level. Some other not for profit organizations have stepped up to help us on our mission. Most notably, the Tomahawk Charitable Solutions team has raised significant $ for us and other veteran’s needs organizations. Additionally, we have worked, hand in hand with Jeff Anderson and his organization: “Rebuilding Warriors” to help vets and first responders who need a service animal.
We work alongside several other charitable organizations that want to help K9’s. First off I’d like to mention the “Throw Away Dogs Project” who find
Dogs in shelters or other less than optimal situations and help train them to serve their community. They are a pretty amazing group. We also work closely with a group called “Protection for Paws” and together we do our best to help the working K9’s who need help with heat-alarm systems.
It is worth mentioning that being part of a non-profit means that you learn how amazing people are. Two things you can’t be if you run a non-profit:
1- A pessimist, because you see the generosity of people every single day. You see people volunteer to take care of their community with their wallets or their hard work, and
2- A socialist.
We get emails and messages fairly regularly from people in other countries, asking us if we can assist their working K9 population because they don’t have any organization like ours where they live. We couldn’t exist in a socialist nation.
We are proud to have worked with these organizations. We are proud and grateful that we live in a nation where we can raise $ and operate in the margins, where the government can’t, to help the Military, Civil, and Police K9’s who serve our nation and it’s communities.
Today it seems as if we Americans are awash in many domestic cultural changes and challenges. The American experiment is always evolving, and we have much on our plate right now. This blogpost is just a small request. Please remember the Americans and their K9’s who are deployed all over the world; those folks who are selflessly living in rough spots to secure the freedom we have to figure things out as a nation. We don’t hear or read much about them right now because of the election madness and the covid issues. Take a look at this pic of a Special Operations team deployed to a conflict zone.
Imagine for a minute what they do and feel daily. I’m guessing if you do, it will take some of the harshnesses of how you view your troubles right now.
I’m grateful for those human and K9 Americans, here at home and deployed, that put their country and community ahead of individual needs and desires. They are the reason we will remain a great nation, in spite of our warts and cultural convulsions.
Last weekend we had a great American event. Our supporters and representatives from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America came together in Roanoke County to build an agility course for the K9’s in that area. These Dogs deserve everything we can give them to be successful at the jobs we ask them to do for our community.
It was an amazing day. The Roanoke County Jeep Club showed up and helped and then they handed us a pretty big pot of donations from several of the local business’. Being a part of a group of Americans who showed up on a Saturday, and a hot one at that, to come together to make their community safer and to help the Dogs who protect it, is a gift and I am grateful for the opportunity.
If you are reading this and you have no training area for the K9’s in your community, reach out and let us know!