A bad penny always turns up

Ut oh. I have an unfortunate update about the infamous Scott Shields, a convicted felon of fake Ground Zero 9/11 fame. Golden Retriever Bear would be so disappointed. (For a complete background click here.)

Teflon Scott seems to have skipped any consequences for his actions once again. Despite pleading guilty to breaking probation, his sentencing on January 14, 2011 resulted in few penalties.

Click here to see the court document so listing the new parameters for Scott’s continued probation. In summary, further stipulations for Scott’s supervised release include his:

  1. Filing all delinquent or amended IRS tax returns, properly reporting correct taxable income and claiming only allowable expenses.
  2. Not possessing any law enforcement id, such as Police Dept, Fire Dept, or Military shields or badges.
  3. Shutting down the Bear Search and Rescue website no later than Jan 21, 2011.
  4. No longer selling books entitled, Bear: America’s Most Decorated Dog or Bear: Heart of a Hero.

It is now February 28, 2011 and the site is still up in its entirety. The home page (http://www.bearsearchandrescue.org/index.htm) appears rather than a holder page so indicating no working site at the address. And, while it conveniently indicates the foundation’s closure, one can still access every page by going to the following links:


And, Scott provides a link at his front home page to now link to his Youtube site, so confusing folks with his continued obfuscation.

The Whois data provides the following information for the person (JT Vogt of UniServe) maintaining the website:
JT Vogt
W5910 Genske Rd.
Black Creek, Wisconsin 54106
Phone: 920-984-1199
Fax: 920-562-7722
Email: lfm@amber.unisrv.net

Mr. Vogt, a personal pal to Scott Shields, refuses to respond to repeated requests to remove the site. This is despite the court order from the U.S. District Court in the District of New Jersey, signed by the honorable judge Freda L. Wolfson on January 14, 2011. FYI: Ignoring a district court order is a serious offense punishable by up to a year in Federal Prison and a fine of up to $1000.00.

I continue to receive emails from folks who see Scott at flea markets selling his book or asking for money for his foundation. But, I am unable to do anything about it. If you have had less than appropriate dealings with Scott Shields, you may want to write to the judge and relay your experience. Be sure to reference the case number:  United States v. Scott Shields CRIM NO. 10-147-01 (FLW). Or, if you would like to find out why the site remains up despite the court order, you could write a letter to Judge Wolfson. Her address is:

Honorable Freda L. Wolfson, United Stated District Judge
United States District Court
Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Building & Courthouse
50 Walnut Street
Newark, New Jersey 07102


Hero Dogs for Veterans

Adorable 12-week-old Golden Retriever Maverick is being trained through Hero Dogs, Inc., a fabulous new group from my own state of Maryland that provides service dogs to military veterans or active members of the U.S. armed forces. They train dogs to meet those multiple challenges inherent to mobility, hearing, and/or psychiatric disorders. (Be sure to check them out and the many other service dog groups across the globe.)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The concept of the Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) has received an increased emphasis in the media, their status elevated due to the concerns regarding the huge numbers of war veterans suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well as Traumatic Brain Injury due to the use of the improvised explosive device (IED). Some estimates show greater than one third of vets returning home from war in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from PTSD, this article on declining morale of US troops in Afghanistan revealing the significant societal impact:

Think tank RAND report in 2008 had revealed 300,000 veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan had been diagnosed with severe depression or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It said more soldiers were going AWOL to find treatment from PTSD. RAND further reveals that rates of PTSD and traumatic brain injury among troops taking part in war on terror have been excessively high, with a third of returning troops reporting psychic problems and 18.5% of all returning service personnel battling either PTSD or depression. Marine suicides doubled between 2006 and 2007; army suicides are at highest rate since records were kept in 1980. There has been 80% increase in desertions since 2003. Over 150 GIs refused service while about 250 war resisters are taking refuge in Canada. 1700 strong GI resistance is gaining momentum. The veterans have signed up for anti-war Oath Keepers (an association of serving military officers, reserves, National Guard, veterans, fire fighters). Longer war drags on more resistance from within ranks. Hundreds of letters have been written to Obama by serving and retired servicemen, urging him to bring back US troops. Long absence from homes is escalating divorce rates. …

Mental state of those on duty on scattered posts is worst since they feel scared. Many suffer from mental disorders. Sleeplessness and bouts of anger are common. Many are found broken down and weeping since the faceless enemy frustrates them. Seeing their comrades blown up shatters them. They feel irritated that in their bid to help the population by giving them humanitarian assistance, they do not cooperate and often lie and tend to protect Taliban. Recent rules of engagement to minimize civilian casualties are seen as fighting with one arm tied behind backs. Most demoralizing thing is that soldiers are not getting killed in combat actions but by roadside bombs on routine journeys. In 2009, most casualties were from IEDs and still are. All combat missions are accepted with a heavy heart. There is no sense of pride or accomplishment in them. None want to die or get crippled. All they desire is complete their tenure and return home safely in one piece.

Here is so much more . . . .

Golden Retriever Riley: The Real (Iconic) Hero of 9/11

New York, N.Y. (Sept. 15, 2001) -- Golden Retriever SAR dog, Riley, is transported out of the debris of the World Trade Center. The twin towers of the center were destroyed in a Sept. 11 terrorist attack. U.S. Navy Photo by Journalist 1st Class Preston Keres.

This one photo has never left my mind, heart, or soul as the images
from such a tragic day tend to be indelibly marked.


The post below originally appeared on May 28, 2007, sad news from Riley’s dad, Chris Selfridge, prompting many heavy hearts. Although I never got to meet Riley, I loved him as did so many other folks who had been glued to their television sets after the attack on the twin towers.

On 2/26/10, Riley passed away. He was our family pet, my friend and partner. Riley was 13 in November. He lived a good life and taught me many lessons during his time with me. He will be greatly missed. I love you Bub!

Dog book author, Susan McCullough, has included Riley in her upcoming book on Golden Retrievers and learned more about his final days.

While Riley had aced a physical this past December, a mass was found in his abdomen on February 20. Surgery to remove the mass took place on February 24, but Riley died two days later.

Chris and I exchanged email last fall when I was writing my book about Golden Retrievers and wanted to feature Riley as a representative of the breed. At that point, Riley was still enjoying chasing Frisbees and had helped to welcome a new puppy into the family. He clearly was enjoying his retirement from SAR work.

I am so glad Riley was able to be by his family’s side for a little over 13 years. Cancer has kept me from having a Golden Retriever beyond the age of 11. These special souls live their lives so intensely, never tiring of seeing our faces or simply the joy of going for a walk or getting a treat. I don’t think we could ever appreciate life or live it as well as they do. So, while it seems like they have such short lives, I think they live far longer than we do when it comes to happiness and fulfillment.


May 28, 2007 Post

I have a page at the foundation site on our Disaster Search and Rescue Goldens. It details a great book, Dog Heroes of September 11th: A Tribute to America’s Search and Rescue Dogs. The book details the stories of 77 handlers and their Search and Rescue dogs who responded at the World Trade Center & Pentagon following the September 11th attacks. It shows a photo of Dissaster SAR Golden, Riley.

Riley is one of the most famous dogs of Sept. 11 because of a photo taken of him at the World Trade Center site a few days after the attacks. In the photo, Riley is in a basket being sent over a 60-foot-deep canyon to search the rubble of the North Tower. “Normally when we send a dog, the handler goes with him,” said Riley’s trainer, Chris Selfridge. “This time we decided it was more practical to just send the dog.”

I also recently learned of video being available of Golden Riley through SAR worker and author extraordinaire, Susannah Charleson. She is most familiar with this apparatus on Riley as she has trained in activities with similar gear with her SAR Golden Puzzle.

It is wonderful to actually have footage of the Golden Retriever who really DID work at the World Trade Center (separating him from those preposterous claims made by Scott Shields).

Riley is now retired, and suffers from various skin problems and the like due to his time at Ground Zero.

2 Goldens who survived: A 9-11 Story … & Update

Goldens Hope & Darwin

Eight years ago I featured a story at my site about two Golden Retrievers who survived very traumatic beginnings, and then were met again with tragedy. But, thankfully special love from some truly Golden folks continued to follow them wherever they went.

Nan Schramm told the tale and brought it full circle today with a sad update about her two loves, Hope and Darwin, who will soon be resting together once again.

September 11, 2001 began as a typical one for my husband and me at our apartment one and a half blocks south of the World Trade Center. We awoke to a beautiful, sunny, cloudless fall day and walked our two Goldens, Hope and Darwin.

Hope had been through a hair-raising rescue up near Albany New York as a puppy. She, her littermates, and their mother were found starving to death in a backyard-breeding nightmare.

All of them were rescued by Golden Rescue Operated With Love Statewide and “Hope” was christened thusly, as she was not expected to live through the night. Needless to say, she defied all odds and when we adopted her as an eight-week-old puppy, she had enough spunk for the whole litter.

We got our Darwin from Long Island Golden Retriever Rescue. He had been found wandering Long Island, New York, with no hair. After getting his thyroid in check, he blossomed into the most beautiful male Golden I have ever seen.

On September 11th, they were given their breakfast and fresh water and off we both went to work. All the windows, which faced North into the towers, in our 17th floor apartment were left open. My husband, Eric, who often times worked from home went to his office in midtown. I usually walked to work to my office near Wall Street, but had an early client meeting in the Bronx, north of Manhattan, so off I went.

Read the rest of the story and updates here . . .

New Guide Dog Africa has awful big pawprints to fill.

Michael Hingson getting hug from Guide Dog Roselle

Michael Hingson getting hug from Guide Dog Roselle

Michael Hingson has been a Guide Dog user for the past 43 years, his Guide Dogs all provided to him at no cost by Guide Dogs for the Blind. (You can learn more about guide dogs at our foundation site.)

Michael became world famous after the attacks on 9/11. His Guide Dog Roselle led him from the 78th floor of the World Trade Center and away from the collapsing buildings to safety. Roselle was asleep under Hingson’s desk during the terrorist attacks, and helped lead Hingson down all those stairs to the street through a hazy maze of debris and chaos.

Dickin Medal "For Gallantry"RoselleRoselle was inducted into the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association Hall of Fame, and received a number of awards for her teamwork with Michael. She was awarded the Dickin Medal from Britain for her devotion to duty. The medal is recognized worldwide as “the animals’ Victoria Cross” (in American terms, the animal equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor). Roselle was also awarded the Kennel Club 2002 Ace Award for Service Dog of the Year. Several years ago she developed a blood disorder and took an early retirement. Michael has no proof but is quite certain that the disorder is a result of the toxic fumes and dust she inhaled on that horrendous day in 2001.

Roselle has since retired and officially hung up her harness over a year ago, the San Rafael, CA based Guide Dogs for the Blind throwing her a huge retirement party, complete with a 21-gun salute. Today, Roselle is relaxing as a pampered pet in the Hingson home in northern California.

But, moving on, Michael has needed to begin a partnership with a new guide dog. Honestly, I cannot imagine how stressful that must be, for both the handler and the dog who now must understand that s/he does not get to be out and about as much, and needs to learn to accept a life of leisure rather than work. Roselle led Michael for 7 years and as he says “remains my friend, a member of my family and a hero to me and so many others”. But, his next guide dog Meryl, who had worked with him this past year and a half, had to be retired.

My sixth guide dog Meryl succeeded Roselle and has been my guide for the past year and a half. Unfortunately, Meryl has not been able to adapt well to the constantly changing demands of my active schedule. Last week, I had to retire Meryl to relieve her from the stress she was exhibiting while guiding.

For any blind person who has to retire a guide dog, the change associated with transitioning from one guide to another is difficult and sometimes can be very traumatic. For my part, I know that retiring Meryl was the best thing that I could do for her. She returned to Guide Dogs for the Blind for a complete evaluation, with the possibility that she be retrained and reissued to another blind person where she can be a better match. Meantime, I eagerly wait to see who my seventh guide dog will be.

Well, Michael brought home his newest Guide Dog, Africa, on November 13, 2008, and he has set up a wonderful diary to document his training with her. It is a marvelous insight into the world of guide dogs and their development. Just click here to learn more and travel a most unique journey with Michael & Africa.

Michael Hingson with new Guide Dog Africa