A Christmas Cautionary Tale

Sometimes things can go horribly wrong in the Sekurity Biz. Case in point—that little vampire incident last year Chez Snowy. This film speaks for itself.

Attack of the VampireWestie

Don’t worry, Kenzie and I have everything under control this year…thus far.

Merry Christmas! Thankful for friends like you!




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Reporting For Duty; Honoring Heroes and Hero Dogs on Veterans Day


Author/Photographer: Tracy Libby; Published by i-5 Press

When scribe received an advance copy of the new book, Reporting For Duty by award-winning author and photographer Tracy Libby, she firmly told me to keep my paws off it. No problem. I love to hear about the brave men and women who serve the cause of freedom all over the world, but that is scribe’s tale to describe.

That is until I spied the cover of the book. The subhead reads True Stories of Wounded Veterans and Their Service Dogs. Dogs? That’s my world, thank you. Yours truly waited for just the right moment, then gently took the book to my special quiet space. We all know that dogs serve the military in many capacities, working in dangerous and impossibly scary places. They are dog heroes. What I didn’t realize was just how much assistance trained service dogs provide veterans returning home with physical injuries and other issues that are not visible—things like Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), to mention just two.

Reporting For Duty tells the story of 15 veterans from wars since (and including WWII) and the service dogs who provide specialized services acting as guide dogs, assistance dogs, PTSD dogs, and emotional support dogs. Did you know that a 2014 study by the Rand Corporation found that over 540,000 veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan deal with PTSD and/or depression? Over 260,000 veterans returned home with TBI. These numbers don’t even include veterans from Vietnam, Korea, or WWII. There is obviously a huge need for these specially trained dogs. Training just one dog can take over two years and costs between $10,000-$60,000 depending on the needed skill set.

Kent Phyfe's Iris

Kent Phyfe’s Iris ©Kent Phyfe

I especially enjoyed the story of Kent Phyfe and his service dog, Iris—a lab rescued from a Georgia animal shelter. Mr. Phyfe had joined the military just a week after he graduated from high school in 1981. He served 15 years in the military, as a Ranger with the 82 Airborne Division, then with the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) and the 10th SFG (A). A routine medical exam showed he had a damaged aortic valve. The damaged valve was replaced with a new titanium model, but then Mr. Phyfe was medically retired. Over the next five years, he developed life-threatening cardiac issues that can cause communication from the brain to the heart to short-circuit. These short-circuits cause him to pass out or go into full arrhythmia. Completely dependent on others, Mr. Phyfe was isolated and essentially a captive in his own home.

Kent Phyfe & Iris @Kent Phyfe

Kent Phyfe & Iris
©Kent Phyfe

His doctor suggested a service dog—enter Iris, the rescued lab trained and donated to Mr. Phyfe by the New York non-profit, America’s VetDogs (AVD). Iris’s job was to wake Mr. Phyfe when she detected irregular heart beats. Iris licked Mr. Phyfe to wake him up. If he passed out or went into full arrhythmia, Iris knew to hit a button directly connected to 911, then hold him in place until help arrived. She’d also bark to help EMTs find his location and lick his face trying to wake him up. She even knew to back away so the medics can work, then was trained to ride in the ambulance to the hospital. When Iris detected the slightest rise in anxiety and stress levels, she would do one of several things—climb on his lap to calm him, jump on him to wake him if he is having nightmares, and even pull him towards an exit if in an anxiety-producing situation.

Iris gave Mr. Phyfe his life back. He has not had a full arrhythmia since she joined his family. His brain short-circuits became less frequent and less serious. He was cleared to drive again! Iris helped him return to the life he wanted to lead. He now pursues his photography work, and has traveled over 27,000 miles raising awareness of America’s VetDogs, with the goal of raising enough money to train three-to-four service dogs each year—with Iris at his side. The rescued pup became Mr. Phyfe’s rescuer. Iris recently retired from active service dog duty, but another dog, Mike, reported for duty. There is much more to this story—but no spoilers here! Read the book!

Mr. Stovroff & Cash (right) gather with Ret'd Lt. Col Kathy Champion (left) with her service dog, George.

Mr. Stovroff & Cash (right) gather with Ret’d Lt. Col Kathy Champion (left) with her service dog, George—also profiled in Reporting For Duty

I was surprised to learn that even soldiers who fought in World War II suffer from PTSD. These heroes, the Greatest Generation, still experience flash backs and anxiety. Irwin Stovroff flew bombing missions in Normandy, France in August, 1944. His B-24 was shot down on his thirty-fifth mission—the crew’s last scheduled mission—parachuting him and his nine other crew members behind the German lines. Instead of going home, he wound up as a POW. His story of survival, post-war years, and how he decided to found Vets Helping Vets, a nonprofit organization that raises funds that are donated to organizations training service dogs for veterans are truly inspirational. At 93, Mr. Stovroff actively continues his mission, with his service dog, Cash, at his side. Since its founding in 2007, Vets Helping Vets has raised $4.5 million, funding the training of 120 dogs for veterans.

The inspirational and informative stories are accompanied by beautiful photos, so you feel like you know each veteran and service dog personally. The cover caused leaky eyes in this pup—and you know that dudes don’t cry very often. Check the book out at book stores and online—you may want to order one as a gift for your human for the holidays. And as an added incentive, a portion of each book sale is donated to Vets Moving Forward, one of the nonprofits profiled in Reporting for Duty.

I’m going to sneak the book back where scribe placed it. But I’m looking forward to some cuddle time when she reads it.

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Please help us find our new family; update

Pals in Australia—do you know or have ideas that could help our pals @Charshypup and Archie?? Please share. Let’s help! Please email freyabergin AT gmail DOT com WestieWaves!

Charshy Pup's Blog

Edited. Because a few people have asked about donations I am linking to the place that has been caring for the pups http://www.animalaid.org.au/index.php/79-get-involved/199-donate-online this links to their donation page that has paypal. They are an amazing charity. At this stage I am not able to pay the kennel fees, I will be sending a lot of my household belongings to auction next week to cover it. But if anyone does want to help these guys really could do with the help and they have taken amazing care of Charlotte and Archie.

Update: We are in Melbourne, Australia.

Thank you to the many people who have shared our blog already, you are very kind.

Some have asked about donating and if anyone would like to, then the costs of them being in kennels has been an expense I have not been able to meet. Email freyabergin@gmail.com for details of where to direct donations…

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The Evil Lord Zuckerberg

If you haven’t met my pal Angus Fala, you are in for a treat. He just launched his blog on the heels of the Evil Empire purging anipals profiles, which continues today. Head on over… Angus has much wisdom to share!

Angus Fala Worldwide Enterprises


A lot of my dog friends are being killed off – on Facebook.  We’ve had a nice, vibrant place on Facebook, with lots of Scottie people talking to each other and a lot of Scotties, with their own accounts, discussing the world from their paws.  A lot of users have spent a lot of time there – it’s been quite helpful and entertaining.   Only an idiot would try to kill it.   Who could be that kind of idiot?   Lord Zuckerberg and his minions.

Rumors have been flying for a while that pet profile accounts were in jeopardy.  But they were only far away animals, not even Scotties, so I paid little attention.  Then a few months ago, Dusty Border Terrier got the axe, but he had already passed away, and was a Border Terrier, so it didn’t concern me much.  Then last week, the pace quickened – first…

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Don’t Bark at the Postman! She May Not Ring Twice…

The Postman CAN Bring Good Stuff….So don’t bark incessantly every time you know she’s approaching your door.

Last week, a large box arrived addressed to me. This is always a good sign. I don’t get bills to pay, junk mail, or political flyers. I get STUFF, usually from my pals or Twitter events.


Milou, the Chunky

Last month—and I can’t believe I’m telling you this—I won some @HillsPet Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution food for cats! No, I have not crossed the line between cat=vermin or cat=friend.

Truth is, one of the cats has gotten a little chunky (probably because she hides upstairs where Kenzie and I can’t chase her). So I won a starter supply of the new Hills Pet Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution for Milou at a #BlogPaws Pawty—Now, she weighs about the same as Kenzie and I, so you can only imagine her “chunkiness.”

No, that is for cats, Kenzie!

No, that is for cats, Kenzie!

One small problem—Kenzie thought the food was for her! Goofy as always. At least she didn’t eat it and Milou is on her weight loss journey. (More later!) Note: Milou has yet to thank me, though I notice her bowl is empty every time I pass it.

Last week, the postwoman brought a box containing a variety of products from #Organix Pet Foods. For Dogs. Kibble, canned food, and treats. Definitely something Kenzie and I enjoy. In fact, we may end up on a diet ourselves if we keep helping ourselves to those treats! We’re big on organic, grain-free Made-in-the-USA food around here, so this was welcomed big time. Got my paws on the can of sweet potatoes …

Yes, this is for us, Kenzie!

Yes, this is for us, Kenzie!

Both of these prizes came through my pal Rocco Havanese’s blog, To Do With Love. I learn a lot from Rocco. He invited pals to a twitter pawty a few weeks ago, and I won just for RSVPing. And the pawty was a blast. Learned about Castor & Pollux’s commitment to Made In the USA organic pet food. And now Kenzie and I will both attest that it’s yummy.

Maybe I’ll let Milou guest post about her experiences on the Hills Pet Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution…

but then again, don’t think so!


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Making a List; Checking it 500 Times…..

Much as it pains me to admit this, I have become rather fond of my goofy little sister, Mackenzie. She likes to zoom around the house with me, wrestle, watch NASCAR and bark when anything crosses our super secret security fence.

Watch out! Kenzie's at the wheel.

Watch out! Kenzie’s at the wheel.

So, decided to take her to see Santa this week. Can you imagine she wants a pink Hello Kitty Jeep? Ugh, what’s with that? A Red Mustang definitely a better choice. She’s too young to drive, anyway. (But try telling her that… geesh.)

What can I say–she’s goofy, but she’s my sis. And I guess I’m thankful for her.

I hope Santa visits every single shelter and homeless anipal on the streets, helping them find food, warmth, love and forever homes. That would make this the best Christmas ever!

Kenzie (left) batting hr eyes at Santa.

Kenzie (left) batting her eyes at Santa. Please, no pink jeep in this house.

To read more Thankful Thursday posts, visit The Thankful Thursday Blog Hop, hosted each week by PepiSmartDog.

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Thankful for a Pesty Little Sister?

Thankful Kenzie ate Mom's daisies, not me!

Thankful Kenzie ate Mom’s daisies, not me!

What are you thankful for today?

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Wordless Wednesday: Dreaming of Stardom

Mackenzie thinks she’ll be competing at Westminster some day. Silly puppy dreams!


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Hockey is Back!

Ovechkin and Callahan on the boards.

Ovechkin and Callahan on the boards.

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On the Second Day of Christmas…..

Yep, we caught him! Nothing gets past terriers!

Yep, we caught him! Nothing gets past terriers!

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