Monday was a great day for First Responders Foundation’s JAVELAN program . The Petco Foundation awarded JAVELAN a $2500 Helping Heroes grant, on October 21, 2019 for service dog training.
Executive Director of the JAVELAN program, Tim McAlpine accompanied by Golden Retriever, General Patton, and his wife Mary, along with Patrice Monnier, of the First Responders Foundation accepted the check from Petco. The team of handler, Larry Mattson, and his service dog, Sadie, a 90lb King Silver German Shepherd, who will benefit from the grant were at Petco to show their appreciation, as was Russ Dillion from Dillon Dog Training. The check was presented by Matthew Weida, Store Leader, and Shirley Woolsoncroft, Service Experience Leader, from the 13660 W Maple Rd. Petco, and Shawna Weida, Store Leader, from the 7110 Dodge St. Petco. When Petco guests donate at the register, this act of generosity allows the Petco Foundation to do big things. To date, since 2012 the Petco Foundation has invested more than $14 million to support the life-changing work of the Helping Heroes service dog program and more than $260 million over all in support of organizations dedicated to creating a better world for pets and the people who love them.
Larry, who is a Marine veteran, has been working with Sadie for five months. Larry’s exact words are “Sadie has changed my life”. Larry suffers from PTSD with anxiety and depression and has severe knee and back issues. He also has high blood pressure and Sadie is trained to alert him when his blood pressure goes above 130/60. A special twist to the relationship with Larry and JAVELAN is that Larry met with JAVELAN on official business as the NE State President of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Larry met to discuss the Eagles raising funds for JAVELAN to help veterans. During the meeting Tim asked Larry if he had ever thought about a service dog for himself. Larry said yes, but due to the cost, and so many other veterans having a greater need, it was out of the question. Tim strongly encouraged Larry to apply to JAVELAN, and now Larry and Sadie are a team. Russ Dillon who contracts with JAVELAN to train the handlers and the dogs, shared some of the exciting details as to how Larry and Sadie became a team. Sadie had been part of another service dog program but the home where she was living had another dog who was extremely aggressive towards Sadie. The owners contacted Russ and said they needed to find a new home for Sadie immediately. Russ called Larry, who had been accepted into the JAVELAN program by this time, and asked if he could come to Omaha from Kearney “now”, to meet Sadie. Larry and Sadie met and the connection was fantastic. Unique to JAVELAN is that Russ teaches the handler to train the dog while the dog and handler live together and get to know each other, the dogs are not given to the recipients trained. This reduces the cost by tens of thousands of dollars and helps strengthen the bond between human and canine. Another unique feature is that the JAVELAN program continues to work with the team in the future as needs arise. Larry would benefit greatly from balance help. Once Sadie is mature enough, at approximately 2 years old, she will be fitted with a custom-made stability vest. The vest and handle will allow Larry to use Sadie’s help for balance while walking, standing up, sitting down, and more. Russ will work with Larry at that time to teach Sadie what she needs to help Larry with balance. The Helping Heroes grant will help with this training. In the future if Larry would develop another need, such as diabetes, Russ would be able to help train Sadie to alert for that as well. JAVELAN is a program for the life of the dog, and when needed will help with a new dog – funding, training, and support.
Helping with the training gives the handler great comfort and also purpose. Many who suffer from PTSD need a purpose. Helping to train the dog, which takes a few hours each day, gives the handler a job to do, a reason to get up each morning, and “someone” who needs them and loves them. As in the case of Larry the dogs of JAVELAN, are often rescue dogs, from various situations. The dogs and the handler are both rescued!
Again, a heartfelt and sincere thank you to the Petco Foundation for the Heartland Heroes grant to JAVELAN and the First Responders Foundation.
For more information on the Petco Foundation click here https://www.petcofoundation.org/
Pictured from left to right Patrice Monnier, Shawna Weida, Russ Dillion, Larry Mattson, Shirley Woolsoncroft, Mary McAlpine, General Patton, Tim McAlpine. In front Matthew Weida shaking hands with Sadie.