Working Dogs For Vets
Who are we? Why is our program necessary?
Yesterday you asked for my story, how I came to be here now as it were. It's not a very complicated story I don't think, I've had my fair share of ups and downs but have always found some humor in my current situation. First off my name is Higinio Fuentes III (Tito) and I was a cop in the Air Force for 13 years and 26 days. My last years I was a CAST (Combat Airman Skill Training) instructor and I used my deployment experience to teach people going downrange what to do and how to survive. When I was in I had a total of 4 deployments to Iraq and 1 to Afghanistan, my favorite ribbons are my campaign ribbons and my Air Force combat action ribbon. I guess all of this started in 2004-2005 when I volunteered to do convoy's throughout Iraq. I was part of the 1058th GTC out of Camp Speicher, Tikrit Iraq and had the joy of traveling all throughout Iraq and seeing things tat no one back home would ever get the chance to see. With all the changes and the action and the bullets and explosions, I didn't know it then but a change had started to take place in my mind. I was becoming angrier and I didn't want to leave no matter how much I talked about home with my friends I started to see Iraq as my new home and when I left that first time I became homesick for a place that was never my home. When I came back I was different, I left a happy go lucky guy and came back with the spark in my eyes gone and a new way of looking at life in general. I didn't sleep and when I did it was for 30-minute intervals and that made me highly irritated. I turned to drinking to take some of the edge off of life and when I tried to get help the Air Force people told me that I would have to go elsewhere because they couldn't help me with my problems. Very soon after coming back I drove to my next duty station and 6 months later I was back in my second home, this time working with OSI and CID and other various organizations and myself along with a good friend of mine provided security for the agents and helped locate and destroy weapon caches throughout the Ah Nasiria area with out home base being Talil. After this deployment, I found that I came back more depressed than anything because I was able to put a face to the people that just 8 months ago I was engaging in their vehicles. I saw the children that were so hungry that they would eat the cardboard from the boxes of food that we would bring their families. After that, I went to Camp Bucca Iraq, and it was there that I left the last of my humanity, my spirituality, and above all my sanity. I saw things there that other people would do to each other that made me believe that God was just an idea that someone had drawn up to make their travels throughout this world less lonely. When I came back from that I was just a shell of the person that I was before. I worked ate and occasionally slept. I no longer had sympathy or empathy for others which, in a way, helped make me a better cop because when you no longer have feelings they can't get in the way of your judgment when it comes to certain crimes. A year and a half later I was in Afghanistan where I helped keep the base secure. After all of this, I decided that I would like to teach and got a job as an instructor in San Antonio Texas. Throughout this time I didn't know how to transition, I didn't know how to do without my deployments and I became depressed. The fact that my ex-wife hadn't been faithful to me and tried to blame me and my deployments for it didn't help. Eventually, my mental status started to deteriorate, I heard things that weren't there, I saw things that weren't there and I was constantly on guard. I eventually moved out of my house, which was for the better because no one likes to put a key in the door of a place that used to be home and just hear the empty sound of the lock tumblers opening the door to a loveless house. While I was in my new apartment I had another job and worked from 5 in the morning until 12 at night. When I was in my apartment I made it a prison for myself, I wouldn't leave if I didn't have to, I thought it was funny that I had spent so many years putting people behind bars and the whole time I was unaware of the prison that I had been making for myself. I was also told during this time that I had been placed on a list of individuals that would be forced out because of overmanning issues. I found out really quick that the military was very good at making a monster and keeping us caged until they needed us. They trained us to hunt the boogie men of the world by teaching us how to act and think like them. We had become a consequence a punishment that would bring violence to those that wanted to harm our family. They would feed us and tell us we did well and then have us put that monster back in its cage. what people don't understand though is that monster only stays sleeping for so long, we drank, we took prescribed drugs and street drugs to silence the monster. Some of my friends including myself attempted suicide more than once and some succeeded. We could no longer contain the monster in its cage and the only answer at the time was to kill the host because for a sheepdog to take the lives of his flock is unacceptable and we didn't want any innocent people to die by our fangs. During this time I had also begun seeing the lady I'm with now and we realized that our demons played well with each other. I was in and out of group therapies and outpatient programs, I did a little time in the mental hospital twice, and met a lot of new people so to say. It was during this time that I met a woman that was rescuing dogs and that's where I met my service dog now, ICO. He has given me a way to fix my anxiety and live my life from day to day. He travels with me and I have been told that he acts better than most children. I was lucky enough to find my way to the Working Dogs for Vets program and through them, they have helped me and ICO be a good team and have helped me train ICO to be a true service dog so he can help me deal with PTSD and daily living. I cannot thank Ken and his family & working dogs for vets, enough for giving me a piece of my life back, what you guys do is amazing, you are my heroes.
TeMy friends at Working Dogs For Vets asked me to include a little Bio about Evo, (My service dog) and I, so that people may grow and understand more... As most of my friends know, I am a retired Marine of 20 yrs active service. I've served all over the world and seen more in 20 yrs than I care to in a lifetime. Don't get me wrong, some was good, and some was bad.. Toward the end of my service, and after retirement, I was having difficulty adjusting to civilian life, and missing my brothers and sisters from the Marine Corps. Life at home became extremely difficult, to the point that I did not want to continue anymore. After being diagnosed with PTSD, and a few other problems, a friend suggested that I look into a service dog, and since Evo was already well trained, that he might be a good candidate. So I did some research, and found Working Dogs 4 Vets.. Ken Knabenshue and Brenda Knabenshue immidately came to my aid. Going over with me the procedures to get Evo certified for my needs as a service dog.. I met with them, for some homework for me and evo... which we continue to work on new and repeatative tasks daily.. Just to give you an idea of what Evo does for me: I am extremely forgetful as of the past couple years.. to the point I start something and forget to finish, or forget to take my medications.. Evo knows to stand by me in the morning until he sees me take them, and will not allow me to move from the kitchen until I do. In the evening, I am training his internal clock to remind me to take my sleep meds so that I can attempt to get a nights rest. He also wakes me when I am facing nightmares so that I do not lash out on anyone. He is a calming factor when out in public and will run interference if he thinks someone is approaching me too quickly to me.. These are just some of the things he does for me. It is important to me that he does these things, because if he wasn't around, I would probably never leave the house anymore.. What people don't realize is that this organization is not paid for by the government.. shocking right?? This couple and some volunteers donate what they can, be it time, money, services just to help other vets like me get placed with a dog, or training for a dog to help them.. I just wish my friends and family that know me, would offer time and assistance to keep this program alive, and spreading as it is.. because they do not charge the vets for this service... they are doing it out of love for vets and trying to help them where the government is not... Thanks for listening, and if you have any questions about what Evo and I do... don't hesitate to ask...am Mike/Evo Manchester,
All our service dogs learn to turn lights off and on, to awaken our veterans from a night terror, or nightmare, they can also turn lights on when entering a dark room, and they must learn medication alert making sure that the veteran takes their medication on time. Although our dogs learn many more tasks, these may be two of the most important. Taking medication on time makes it much more effective. Some times the best medicine is a good nights sleep. These dogs help with both.
Like, Share, Donate, Every like helps! Every share spreads the word! Every donation saves lives. Help us fight P.T.S.D by providing service dogs. Most of the dogs we train are from shelters in danger of dying, all veterans suffering from P.T.S.D are at the same risk! By spreading the word and donating today you are saving two lives at the same time. Thank you for your support!
Here is a video of some of our participants. Please share for donations. Any and all donations go straight to funding the organization for training and care of the dogs and veterans. We are unlike any other organization you will find. We fought side by side to keep our country save and now we fight side by side to help other veterans have a better life. Thanks for your support and please share this so we can continue to save the lives of our veterans and man's best friend.
No Veteran Left behind ,About 2.7 million dogs are put down in U.S. shelters each year. That's about one every 11 seconds. Veterans now commit suicide at the rate of 1 every 59 minutes . Veterans who are in need of a service dog reach over 1.5 million. With the No Veteran Left behind Program, We train dogs from shelters in house for veterans who are severely injured and are unable too take part in the training of the service dog themselves. Veterans who are physically able to help train their own service dog are teamed up with a local member of Law Enforcement, the military, active military or reserves throughout the U.S. Most are dog trainers and handlers and have many years experience. They are there for our veteran from start to finish. They help to evaluate and select a dog from the shelter and agree to spend time with the veteran each week to see how the team is coming along.
The trainers already know how teach basic obedience . We teach the volunteers, and the veterans how to train the dog to perform the tasks needed to be a service dog. Such as how to alert to take medicine on time, blocking someone from approaching too fast, and removing our veterans from stressful situations. All we ask our veterans in return for this service is once that their dog has completed all of their training & tests,
They must be willing if able to help volunteer in training more service dogs for other veterans. This usually results in groups of local veterans who meet up at least once a week at a local park who help each-other in training their service dogs.And this is where the real medicine kicks in its veterans helping veterans. Their for No Veteran left behind. Dogs for Vets is contacting active military members and Law Enforcement daily who have a great deal of experience with the dog's and a common bond with our veterans. This also make it easier for the transition in training dogs for P.T.S.D. At this growth rate we hope to have trainers at every military base and in every city throughout the country within 3-5 years. This will completely eliminate the cost & waiting list for our veterans who are in need of a service dog and also greatly help with the shelters overpopulation problem. No Veteran Left behind