Latest newsletter with easy prize giveaways!

Well, I’ve not been posting too much in the last few weeks as life sometimes gets so busy and so complicated and so, so messy. But, there are always obligations. And, that means getting out my foundation’s quarterly newsletter.

You don’t want to miss it. There’s a NEW giveaway with 3 folks each winning a prize valued at $20 …. simply by answering a mystery question and posting the answer at our foundation’s Facebook page.

Just click here and you can print out your own full-color issue.

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 . . . .

And man created dog

Luis Carlos Montalvan and Service Dog Tuesday

Golden Retriever Tuesday is an incredible service dog who helps an Iraq veteran to overcome his debilitating PTSD. I have posted about this wonderful team several times (here, here, here, here & here), and they are featured at my Mitigating a World of Hurt – Psychiatric Service Dogs Stepping up to the Challenge webpage (landofpuregold.com/sitstaysoothe.htm).

Well, now they are going to be a part of what looks to be a wonderful documentary airing Sunday, August 8th, at 8pm est / 9pm pst on the National Geographic Channel.

and Man created Dog

As detailed at the National Geographic Channel site, “If humans were as varied as dogs we would range in height up to 22 feet tall and in weight more than 1,000 pounds. In the ultimate canine ancestral story, NGC traces the genetic journey from wolf to dog, taking viewers back 100,000 years to meet the “mother of all dogs.” It’s no accident that dogs evolved this way, as humans have been selectively breeding them for around 14,000 years to serve our needs as laborer, companion, hunter, herder and warrior, as well as to suit our aesthetic fancy.”

The dog is considered to be the most varied mammal on the planet. This variety is a due to human tinkering – or artificial selection – that began more than 15,000 years ago, when humans began selecting traits they wanted or needed in their canine companions. Here are some interesting facts detailed about our favorite furry family members:

  • The world’s fastest breed of dog, the Greyhound has an astounding heart. A 65-pound greyhound’s heart is about the same size as that of a human athlete weighing twice as much, yet the running greyhound’s heart rate beats twice as fast as the running human’s: about 310 to 340 beats/minute vs. 170 to 210 for the human.
  • The only animal that can accelerate faster than a greyhound over a short distance is a cheetah.
  • One of the greatest challenges for canine athletes is the grueling 1,000-mile Iditarod sled dog race in Alaska. Scientists found that the average husky burned 11,000 calories a day – or about eight times the proportional calories a Tour de France cyclist burns. In addition, the dogs take in triple the oxygen of human athletes.
  • A dog’s sense of smell is much more sophisticated than a human’s. While the strongest odor overwhelms all others to our noses, the dog can differentiate a myriad of scents simultaneously. Dogs devote 40 times more brainpower to smell than humans.
  • Dogs have vastly superior hearing than humans, but they are born deaf, with their ear canals sealed. They cannot hear until they are about two weeks old. When they mature, they can hear sounds at four times the distance we can.
  • The human ear is fixed, but a dog and tilt, turn, raise, and lower their ears to pinpoint the origin of sound. They can also work each ear independently of the other.
  • Dogs can be taught to understand well over 100 spoken words. Dr. Stanley Coren says the average dog can be taught as many as 165 individual words – more words than an ape can recognize.
  • Dogs communicate with each other by using body language as well as vocalization. The tail is the most obvious signaling device. Here are the definitions of some dog tail positions: Tail up and curved over the back: confident pose of the dominant dog. Tail tucked between the legs: sign of fear, submission.
  • One of the most human gestures of a dog is the yawn. But while we yawn to increase oxygen flow, a dog’s yawn is a sign of anxiety or stress.
  • Dogs cannot smile, so their happy expression is a slightly open mouth with the tongue slightly draped over the lower teeth.
  • Modern-day needs have led to modern-day breeds. The Labradoodle, a cross between a Labrador retriever and a standard poodle was originally bred to create an intelligent, easily trained guide dog for blind people with allergies to retriever dog fur.
  • Dogs not only have acute sense of smell, but that they can be trained to use that sense to help us. Most remarkable is the experiment where five ordinary dogs were trained to detect breast and lung cancer in the exhaled breath of people. Their detection accuracy was between 88 and 97 percent.
  • The dog is the most varied mammal on the planet with the extremes of variation so dramatic that they achieve two orders of magnitude — ranging from the two-pound Chihuahua to the 200-pound mastiff. In height terms, the range is from the not-quite-seven-inch-high dachshund to the three-and-a-half-foot-tall Great Dane.
  • While variations in most animals are a result of natural selection, the vast variety of widely differing traits we see in dogs is the result of human-directed artificial selection. Now a study by scientists at the University of Washington has found that such breeding has altered 155 distinct genetic locations of dogs that could account for such breed differences as size, coat color, texture, and behavior.

Senator Franken’s new office *staffer*

I’ve posted about Al Franken here, here, here & here, and continue to be so impressed by what he is trying to do in truly making a difference for his constituents. He is a dog lover, of course, as one would expect him to be. A Labrador Retriever guy, in fact.

Contributing Editor Warren Kalbacker squared off with Franken for hours across the comic’s dining room table while Franken’s Labrador relaxed underneath. “He’s intense and obviously opinionated. He’s also physical. He interrupted our sessions a couple of times to wrestle his huge retriever into a headlock.”

It was very hard to learn about his beloved Kirby.

Franken shifts positions and pulls his wallet out of his back pocket and throws it on the coffee table next to a wooden bowl full of fake cherries Franni bought at Target. It’s all chewed up—the work, he says, of the late Kirby, the dog pictured in the Vikings helmet in the campaign slideshow and also framed on the wall in this room. “Now I don’t want to get rid of it, because Kirby did this,” he says, looking at the gnawed wallet. “Because we had to put Kirby down about a month ago. It was awful. He was only 8. He had cancer in his leg, in his bone, and at any minute his bone could shatter. And so I would have cut his leg off—I’ve seen some very happy three-legged dogs—but it had metastasized, so we had to put him down, and it was just awful. You know, it’s the whole family being with Kirby and hugging him while he’s being injected, and it’s the worst.” Franken’s voice is cracking a little. “Let’s not bring it up anymore, because I get upset,” he says, wiping his eyes.

Learning that his first goal as a new Senator was to provide Service Dogs for war veterans did not surprise me in the least. [Learn more about Psychiatric Service Dogs here]. Of course, I loved that this desire was spurred by his meeting Luis Carlos Montalvan and his Service Golden Retriever Tuesday at a presidential inaugural event.

On December 13, 2009, by a vote of 57 to 35, the Senate gave its final approval to the FY2010 Omnibus Appropriations Act, so funding Franken’s provision of service dogs to veterans with disabilities.

Blaine and the Senator

I was so happy to see that the Senator has some new canine comfort and cheer in his life. He just announced adding a new member to his Washington staff. Blaine is a two-year-old mutt that he adopted from the Washington Animal Rescue League. Since he shares his name with a town in Minnesota, Al knew immediately that he would be a perfect fit.

Blaine is, of course, already a full-fledged member of the office. His particular strengths, you ask?

Well, he is simply great at  .  .  .  .  . carrying a stuffed duck around, sitting in on staff meetings, and lounging in the legislative bullpen.

Is that a face or what?

Patriot Service Dogs ….. *Golden* Justice for All

Could anyone ever find the words equal to the powerful message in this photo? I don’t think so. (Be sure to click on the photo, and then again, to see a glorious supersized version.)

Tim Shelton, director of the American Legion Riders Florida Chapter 137, and Justice, a 5-month old Golden puppy who is being trained by Patroit Service Dogs. This chapter held a bike show event, raising funds to sponsor dogs for disabled veterans. (The Florida Times-Union, Don Burk)

Learn more about Patriot Service Dogs and Golden Retriever Justice’s progress here.

And, go to sitstaysoothe.htm to learn more about the work our special canine angels are doing for those in the military.

Wounded veterans take case for service dogs to Capitol Hill

For Iraqi war vet Luiz Montalvan, Golden Retriever Tuesday can pick up a dropped cane, even sense when he needs his medications. Wounded veterans and their service dogs were on Capitol Hill recently hoping to get more support for service dog programs. Vodpod videos no longer available.


Learn more about Psychiatric Service Dogs here.

Mitigating a World of Hurt: PSDs Stepping up to the Challenge

We have a new area at our foundation site, so that we can post personal concerns, pet peeves, and honestly, whatever tickles my fancy. It may involve dogs of any persuasion or it may not. The only determinant for inclusion is that the topic is IMPORTANT TO US.  Some of the latest topics have included:

The NEWEST topic is this:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Here’s part of the lead in to the page:

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 . . . .