Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ingredients for a Successful Partnering

Take one Wounded Warrior, mix with one Service Dog trained by Carolina Canines for Veterans, saturate with hard work, sprinkle with plenty of training opportunities, combine with laughter and rest, and the result is one incredible service dog partnering destined for new beginnings.

Meet Leslie Smith and Service Dog Issac. Leslie first met Isaac in Washington, D.C. the evening before the presentation of the Newman’s Own Award for the Carolina Canines for Veterans program. Since that time, plans were underway for the pair to begin their team training in Wilmington as the newest wounded warrior to be partnered, creating an opportunity for greater independence.

Leslie, U.S. Army Captain - retired, was serving during Operation Joint Forge, an eight-month peacekeeping deployment to Bosnia-Herzegovina, when just short of completing her deployment she was diagnosed with a rare blood clot disorder and rushed back to the United States where complications led to the amputation of her left leg below the knee and the loss of vision in her left eye. Leslie spent nearly 8 months at Walter Reed and underwent 20 surgeries that have enabled her to walk again. Her life since her injury has taken her down many paths, including the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MN, and the one to Carolina Canines for Veterans is not without thought and planning. It is the right time in her life for a canine companion to assist with her every day needs, some of which she will have to rethink to use her service dog, instead of doing for herself. Like many, Leslie has learned to adapt to the tools she needs to live, but this time, the tool has four legs, a wagging tail, some dog hair, the desire to work and plenty of kisses.

Issac came to Carolina Canines from Grand Strand Humane Society and was just two days away from being euthanized. He has spent 14 months in training, having waited for his special someone for the last several months. Each match of a person and their service dog is unique. The needs of every applicant, whether civilian or veteran, are carefully reviewed and the dogs’ skills accessed to determine the best possible match considering needs, personalities and life style. The match between Leslie and Issac is right, more than right, and we know they will be a confident team as they go out onto their own. Carolina Canines for Veterans has given Issac the skills he needs and team training has given Leslie the tools she needs to use Issac. Now, it’s all up to them.
Making the placement of Isaac possible takes many and our thanks goes to the Marine Corp Base Camp Lejeune, the prison handlers, Stephen LeQuire-CCV Trainer, Marianna Thompson-Myrtle Beach Trainer, Horry County Humane Society, Jameson Inn Wilmington, Wilmington Orthotics and Prosthetics and our Carolina Canines for Veterans funders.

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