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Meet Surf Dog Ricochet

I love dogs. They are noble and heroic and worthy of being included in my romantic suspense stories. For many years, Gus and Talley, my two Golden Labs, were my constant companions; they inspired me to include four-legged characters in my books because of the unique relationships people and animals share.

When I was researching topics for today’s blog, I came across a website for an impressive canine–Surf Dog Ricochet (or Ricki, as she is called). The achievements of this very special SURFice dog® highlight the endearing qualities of all service dogs: loyalty, personality, dedication, steadfastness, comfort and unconditional love.

After “flunking out” of training as a service animal, Ricki’s owner wasn’t sure what to do with the puppy.  She enjoyed surfing and, at fifteen months, took third place in the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge surf competition. Ricki’s knack for surfing created a unique opportunity for her to work with special needs kids and peoples with disabilities on the water.

One of Ricki’s other talents is her ability to detect stress and anxiety in people. This is one reason therapy dogs are being used to treat service members with PTSD and children with autism. Read more on this on Ricochet’s website.

Over the course of Ricki’s career as a therapy dog and philanthropist, she has raised almost $500,000 for various causes, won top dog awards and become a media star. You can read her story in Ricochet: Riding a Wave of Hope with the Dog Who Inspires Millions and catch her in Super Power Dogs, which comes out in 2018.

Part of what is most inspiring about Ricki’s story is that her “pawsome” success as a surf therapy dog was not intentional. That’s a wonderful reminder that when life doesn’t go as planned or we fall short of our goals, there is still the potential to become or experience or achieve something amazing.

See Ricki’s incredible photos and learn more at her website: www.surfdogricochet.com.

Photos of Ricochet used with permission.

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Supporting Military Working Dogs

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a dog lover. Grayce Walters, the lead character in my contemporary romantic suspense series is also a dog lover, and I’ve included several canine characters in the Grayce Walters series.

I have a special place in my heart for military working dogs. These four-legged service members contribute so much to their units. If you’d like to learn more about military service dogs, check out these organizations dedicated to honoring and assisting active and retired military dogs.

 

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The United States War Dogs Association – features war dog history, information about the U.S. War Dogs Memorial, and how to participate with this organization.

Save a Vet – provides adoption and rescue support for military and law enforcement working dogs.

Operation Military Care K9 – collects and distributes care packages to military working dogs and their handlers.

Kevlar for K9s – works to provide bulletproof vests for working canines.

 

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If you would like more stories or information about military working dogs, check out these sites or click HERE for a full listing of military working dog organizations/resources.

Dogs of the Navy SEALs

The Dogs of War

Canines in Combat

10 Things You Might Not Know About Soldier Dogs

Dogs of War: 23 Facts You Never Knew About Military Working Dogs

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A Veterans Day giveaway in honor of 'war dogs'

Friday, November 11, is Veterans Day. This national holiday is dedicated to honoring veterans of the armed services (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, National Guard, and Coast Guard) who served to protect our country.

Did you know Veterans Day originated from Armistice Day, a holiday enacted in recognition of WW I soldiers? Click HERE to read more about the history of Veterans Day.

In addition to honoring the men and women who have served, I like to acknowledge the contributions of canine service members. I’m not the only American in awe of “war dogs.”  There are several organizations dedicated to honoring and assisting active and retired military dogs.

 

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The United States War Dogs Association – features war dog history, information about the U.S. War Dogs Memorial, and how to participate with this organization.

Save a Vet – provides adoption and rescue support for military and law enforcement working dogs.

Operation Military Care K9 – collects and distributes care packages to military working dogs and their handlers.

Kevlar for K9s – works to provide bulletproof vests for working canines.

 

man-80121_640

If you would like more stories or information about military working dogs, check out these sites or click HERE for a full listing of military working dog organizations/resources.

Dogs of the Navy SEALs

The Dogs of War

Canines in Combat

10 Things You Might Not Know About Soldier Dogs

Dogs of War: 23 Facts You Never Knew About Military Working Dogs

soldier-870399_640

As an author, I’ve incorporated my passion, respect and enthusiasm for working military dogs into my contemporary romantic suspense fiction. Sergeant Nick Welby and his bomb-sniffing golden lab are leading characters in Men Under Fire, Book 3 in the Grayce Walters series.

This book is one of more than 60 titles featured in the Military Romance Book Giveaway, which includes a Kindle Fire. If you’re a fan of military heroes and heroines, be sure to enter for a chance to win.

 

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In honor of Veterans Day, I’m giving a way an ebook copy of Men Under Fire. For a chance to win, simply comment on my Veterans Day Facebook post. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/2fD26DI

 

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PTSD in Military Working Dogs

120503-ptsd-dogs-hilson-bcol-11a.380;380;7;70;0In my new release, MEN UNDER FIRE, Sgt. Nick Welby isn’t the only veteran returning home from Afghanistan with PTSD. His partner Talley, a bomb-sniffing canine, is also struggling to overcome Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

Nick and Talley are strong characters in their own right and well-suited to the perilous plot in this story, but as an avid dog-lover, there was deeper motivation behind the creation of these two characters. I wanted to raise awareness about the struggle many of our two-legged and four-legged veterans face when they return home from active duty.

PTSD has become a well-known condition in the decades following military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both human and canine veterans require intensive support, therapy and treatment in order to manage the symptoms of PTSD.  For dogs, these symptoms may include:

  • Extreme fearful or emotional reactions
  • Aggression
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Anxiety
  • Physical behavior such as panting, pacing, sleep issues

Researchers, including psychiatrists, statisticians and veterinary behaviorists, are finding anecdotal evidence that indicates PTSD can affect service animals much like it impacts humans. Dogs who are identified as having PTSD may receive medication in addition to conditioning/behavior modification to unlearn a PTSD behavior Approximately 50 percent of these dogs return to active duty, with the remainder being reassigned, retired or adopted out.

Not everyone is convinced “canine PTSD” is a real issue. It doesn’t matter what label or title is applied to the skittish, stressed out behavior exhibited by dogs returning from active military duty. What does matter is making sure all of our veterans–human and canine–receive the care, support and respect they need to return to a happy, fulfilled life. For more information, check out these resources:

Canine PTSD Blog
Integrative Veterinary Car Journal
Veterinary Practice News

Thank you for your service, Woof!

dogsDogs have been used in war from since the start of civilization. The Greeks and Romans used dogs as sentries or patrols, although they were also taken into battle. It was during the Seminole Wars that dogs were first officially used in the U.S. military. Since then, dogs have served as messengers, guard dogs and propaganda mascots. They have also been used in experimental medical treatments, detection and tracking, scouts, law enforcement, search and rescue, drug and explosives detection, therapy dogs and for intimidation purposes.

The bond between handlers and their combat canines is extraordinary, and holds special significance. Because many handlers and canines rotate through platoons or join units that have been together for months, even years, they are often outsiders. The strength of this partnership makes it easier to endure the feeling of being an outsider.

For injured and wounded veterans, dog therapy has proven exceptionally effective in aiding in recovery from PTSD. They also serve as companion animals and service dogs.

Dogs are known for their loyalty, affection and faithfulness. These characteristics are what make military dogs four-legged heroes.