K9’s working

Hello, Spike’s Pack!

I hope this blog post finds you and yours having a happy and healthy 2020.

As we begin another trip around the sun, I want to remind everyone that we are still here and we are here because the K9’s that we advocate for are still at work, 24/7, all around the world.

“K9 Peet”

This image was sent to us recently from Afghanistan. K9 Peet is out and about, supporting US Special Operations Forces who are working on behalf of us. K9 Peet was provided equipment for his deployment, by you, the Spike’s Pack.

We have quite a few more K9’s that need our support and we will be working hard to advocate and provide for all of them.

We have been successful thus far because of the strong support and hard work of our volunteers and 4 employees. Emily, Annemarie, Paige, and Dave work very hard to keep our tiny little organization operating smoothly and efficiently. We are small and that means we need help. We need help passing the word about what we provide for the K9’s and we need help raising funds to execute on our 3 campaigns.

We have a HUGE fundraiser coming up on 17 May 2020. You can read about it and register and purchase tickets here.

We have a lot of work to do in 2020. We are very grateful for the kindness, generosity and moral support we’ve received so far.

Here’s to a successful 2020.

🙏🏼🇺🇸🙏🏼


Spike 1000

Today is the anniversary of the death of Spike. Spike was killed in Iraq in 2006. He was killed in a “shoot-through.” I sent him to bite an enemy and the enemy fought Spike and took him to the ground. I fired some rounds into the human and one of them went through the human into Spike, killing him.

Spike was an exceptional Dog. He carried me through a couple of deployments. His drive and strength are qualities I try to instill in and replicate with our organization. Spike weighed 62 lbs. He was not a big dog. He was ferocious when he needed to be and his drive was off the charts.

Yesterday Emily sent me the news that we successfully achieved our 2019 goal, which was to have helped 1000 working Dogs. Here is a photo of the 1000th K9 helped by you, our supporters, in Spike’s name:

“K9 Csuti”

The sadness associated with the memory of Spike’s loss is tempered by the work you, our “Spike’s Pack” have done in his name.

So, today I will head out and do the “Spike’s Sprint” and while doing it, I will reflect on the amazing things Spike and the other Dogs who serve our communities and nation, accomplish on a daily basis.

Thank you for your kindness and generosity.

I am grateful to be a part of this action organization that advocates in real ways, for these amazing K9’s.


Work

Hello, Spike’s Pack.

I want to talk to you about hard work. It is how things get done. We have a small team here at Spike’s and they work hard. Nobody works harder than Emily. Emily is coming up on her fourth year at Spike’s work anniversary soon.

Let me throw out a couple of metrics here.

1- We have 2 full-time employees. Me and Emily.

2- We have 3 part-time employees. Annemarie, Dave, and Paige.

3- I am essentially useless at this point because of my work with the school, so the day to day details of the mission are solely in the hands of Emily.

4- Emily runs an organization that has helped close to 1000 K9’s and has raised over $3,000,000.00. She is in charge of the funds, the social media, the public relations, the budget, the store, donor relations, and all of the planning for future events. Including the 2020 Spike’s Soirée.

She does all of these things while having 3 Dogs, and a spouse in the military who has deployed a couple of times while she has been handling things for Spike’s. Emily’s husband will deploy again in the not distant future. She is an amazing human being who has a heart the size of West Virginia, where she hails from. She is the most positive and hardest working person I know. On top of taking care of Spike’s K9 Fund, she also volunteers at the Norfolk Animal Care Center.

If you have the chance, please send Emily some love. She works so hard and is so invested in the work, that I don’t think she stops to reflect on how much good she has done. She makes the people around her (especially me) better. She is tough and kind and extremely motivated.

I am grateful that she is responsible for the reins of this organization while I try to become better educated. Thank you so much, Emily.

Happy Spike’s anniversary “amazing Emily.”


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.