For some time now, I’ve had the honor of working with Greyhound adoption. While these wonderful dogs are adopted out to caring individuals and families of all types, some newer programs that work specifically to match Greyhounds in need of a home with Veterans who would benefit from a loyal, loving pet are some of my favorite stories. I am doubly honored to be able to help Greyhounds and the Veterans that have served our country at the same time.
It is such a joy to know that Awesome Greyhound Adoptions (AGA) and Service Dogs 4 Servicemen (SD4SM) have been instrumental in getting these magnificent creatures to their forever homes while benefiting a Veteran at the same time. Tears come to my eyes when I see the Veterans with their Greyhound Service Dogs.
The “Hero Project” donates fully trained Greyhound Service Dogs to Veterans in need. We exclusively use the retired racers for this purpose as they are eager to learn and are easily and quickly trained once their athletic careers are over. It usually is four to six months before they pass all their tests and fully qualify as a Service Dog.
AGA assists in the selection of the dogs for the program. Then they fully vet the dogs as they come off the track. This includes their baths, spay or neuter, teeth cleaning, shots, titers, fecal testing and a six-month supply of heartworm medication. Should there be a need for any additional treatment, AGA takes care of that so the dogs are presented to SD4SM in optimum condition for training.
It is amazing to see the faces of the Veterans as they get to know their new Service Dog and have weekly visits with them during their early training. Next come the “sleepovers,” where the dogs remain with the Veterans overnight on weekends during the latter weeks of training. Then, finally, the presentation of the Greyhound to the Veteran with the promise of additional training of the dog and the Veteran together as long as they require help.
Pictured above are Daniel De La Rosa with HERO I (our ambassadog), Barry Offenburger with Hero II, Jesse Bergeron with Doc and William Gonzalez with Gunner. Hero II has been with Barry for a few months now – Doc and Gunner are to be formally presented to their Veteran owners at a ceremony this Sunday on Veterans Day in Hollywood, Florida.
“HERO has changed my life significantly,” shared Barry Offenburger, the first of the recipients of the organizations Greyhound Service Dogs. “In the army you have a person that you pair up with who is designated as your ‘battle buddy’ and HERO is now my ‘battle buddy’ here at home. He has given me the ability to go places where I could not go before as he resolved my anxiety issues and my fear of crowds. My family also is impacted with my having HERO as I no longer hesitate to go places with them. He is my HERO, my best buddy.”
I am so proud to be part of this program and credit our trainer, Daniel De La Rosa of Petropolis Park, with the dedication to spend hours on training these dogs and making the program what it is today.