Testimonials/Inspirational Stories

 

 

 

 

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Team: Timothy/Buddy

Mullica Hill, NJ

Hello my name is Timothy and my dogs name is buddy. I'm a Afghan veteran. Buddy is still in training I was looking at different organizations for a while then I came across working dogs for veterans. The day after I sent in my application I found buddy in a shelter and he helps me with depression and ptsd. He is half hound/ lab mix only 1 year old when I got him but before I got him I had my ups and downs and nightmares now he has shown me a new meaning to life and so as working dogs for veterans also. He is my life saver my battle buddy for life. I can't wait till he knows all the stuff he needs to know to help me. Ken and Brenda are such wonderful friends and for my trainer Billie she is the best. Thanks for reading my story.

Team: Dan/Rusty

Marietta, GA

Sergeant Daniel Hermann served in the Marine Corps fro August 2009 to November 2015. During that time he deployed to Afghanistan, Kuwait and Bahrain. He was medically retired after 6 years of honorable service and is struggling with PTSD. After several failed attempts of finding a service dog that would be the right fit, he came across Working Dogs for Vets who within a matter of just a few weeks found him a dog. 

Sgt. Hermann found a Labrador retriever Rusty in Alabama at a shelter where Rusty was to be put down on 3 separate occasions but for whatever reason wasn't! 

Team: Tito/ICO

Hampton, VA


  Yesterday you asked for my story, how I came to be here now as it were.  Its not a very complicated story I don't think, I've had my fare 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 cant 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 miitary was very good at making a monster and keeping us caged until they needed us.  They trained us to hunt the boogey 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 dont 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 coud 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 didnt want any innocent people to die by our fangs. During this time I had also began 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  raising pit bulls to be emotional therapy dogs and thats 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 in our day to day lives.  I cannot thank Ken and his family enough for giving me a piece of my life back, what you guys do is amazing, you are my heroes.

Team Terri/Bruno

Loranger LA

We want to thank working dog for vets for there help and support. Bruno is a prime example of what a service dog for a disabled vet . Thanks to working dog for vets a former soldier who served with the 82nd airborne division and with 511 the mi bn f company 51st inf. Lrsu. Has been more than blessed with the comfort and the spirit that his Service dog has provided for a war veteran with service connected brain injuries and post tramitic stress. Here is one photo of his service dog enjoying a water rescue training exercise with a lady that was kind enough to play the part of someone in distress while swimming and pulled to safety from Bruno. Thanks working dogs for vets

Team Mike/Evo

Manchester, TN

TEAM: MIKE/EVO

So My 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...

Team Jeremy/Dozer

Denham Springs, LA

My name is Jeremy Blackmon. I am a Iraq vetwran. My dog's name is Dozer. He is still in training to help with my PTSD. He is a 1 yr old pitbull. He is learning how to back me down when I get too excited as well as how to wake me up when I stop breathing from sleep apnea. He also reminds me to take medications because I forget all the time.

Team Chris/Ramsey

Kirkwood, MO

Hello everyone!
My husband, Chris, served in the USMC 2009-2013.
In late 2013, we welcomed Ramsey into our family. Ramsey is a Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog.
Ramsey and Chris were close and would do almost everything together.

On March 30, 2014, Chris fell into his BBQ smoker and caught on fire. 81.5% of his body was burned, the majority was a third degree burn. About a month into his stay in the ICU, one lung collapsed, causing the other to collapse and his heart to stop working. He went at least 10 minutes with no oxygen to his brain. A neurologist was called in and I was given the option to let him go. His brain activity was that low.

It has been a long road, and Chris continues to improve everyday. Ken Knabenshue has agreed to train Ramsey to help Chris. I am waiting for Chris to "level off" before sending Ramsey to Ken. In the mean time, Ramsey stays next to Chris almost all the time. Ramsey will actually come let me know if something is wrong with Chris.

Ken and Brenda are such wonderful people. I am so lucky to have found them!

Team Sean/Nikki

Paxton, IL

I am a 100% Disabled Vet that suffers from a rare Neurological disease called Cataplexy, a component of Narcolepsy, which causes very sporadic loss of partial or complete muscle tone in my body. Not to mention randomly falling asleep at all the wrong times from the Narcolepsy. After being rejected by several organizations, or them wanting me to pay thousands of dollars for a dog, I managed to find the Working Dogs for Vets organization. Ken was very understanding and helpful in explaining how everything works and extremely knowledgeable about service dogs. I have been working with Ken and Brenda alongside Nikki (my service dog) for about 2 years now and it's such a great feeling having Nikki by my side. She is able to alert me to the episodes, as well as stands guard over me until I regain muscle tone to continue, or get back up off the ground. Nikki is also good about ensuring I stay awake when out in public. Before Nikki I rarely left the house due to the disease and never knowing when an episode may occur. Nikki has restored my ability to be normal, well as close to normal as I can get considering. I honestly do not know where I would be today if it wasn't for Working Dogs For Vets, and of course Nikki. This investment has helped so many Veterans across the country, a lot of those Veterans were like me, no idea where to turn to for help where they didn't have to pay thousands of dollars for a dog, but Working Dogs For Vets didn't ask for anything in return but to pay it forward. If there ever was a more deserving organization, it would be The Working Dogs for Vets organization.

 

Team Kelly/Axl

Whytheville, VA

This is me and Axl. Ken and Brenda helped me keep Axl in 2013. Where I was renting at the time did not allow dogs. I panicked and told my partner I would rathersleep in my jeep than to be separated from him. He had been helping me long before I had realized it. The thought of loosing made me sick. I had made some calls through the VA to try to find help and ran into brick walls. I knew about the help from service dogs for veterans dealing with PTSD but couldn't find any local help, that's when I found WDFV. Ken and Brenda told me of my rights and how to get my best friend certified and to ensure he was always with me. Axl made an oath unbeknownst to me to keep me safe,and to always have ny back, as I will keep my oath to him to always have his. I couldn't have done this without the help of WDFV. This organization is an amazing group and as their motto indicates no veteran left behind as in no dogs left behind. Thank you.

Team Analea/Meatball

Springhill, TN

Hi my name is Analea Toler and this is Meatball, he is my service dog in training. I reached out to WDFV, in July of last year. I was having a hard time ajusting back to civi life after 10 years in the Army, I also was having some stability and nerve issues due to numerous knee surgeries. I always thought I was confident and could walk with my head high no issues, until I took off the uniform for the last time and realized that I didn't have the support, stability, interaction and understanding of nearly everyone around me. I was alone... or so I thought. Thanks to a few battle buddies and some of my Soldiers that still call me (I guess to make me still feel needed) but most importantly thanks to Working Dogs for Vets and Meatball I am almost back to the confident person I once was, as far as being physically stable... it's still a work in progress but it's definitely a closer reality. This program does it at no cost to the veterans and does not get government grants just from donations from generous people like you. 

Team Kevin/Ready

Rockwood, TN

Letting everyone know Ready is doing really well. We are working on Medication alerting now and so far she's getting the hang of it of starting to remind me. She's been to NYC to the WTC memorial and was greeted by several Veterans and guards that still work there today that was there on 9/11. She has come so far in training and she loves my little boys to death and protects them when they are outside. She deff will not any strangers around them or me. 

Team Skylar/Zeus

Dyersburg TN

We are working today!! Doing an awesome job!! Team Skylar/Zeus!!

Team: Brandon/Lewis

Cario, MI

Amazing individuals committed to bettering the lives of others around them. A++ thanks for everything.

Frank and Linda Hagon

Lawrenceburg, TN

Kenneth Knabenshue is an amazing humanitarian. When we met Ken about 16 months ago, my wife and I wanted to talk to Ken more to learn the root of his compassion, the origin of his desire to train dogs to specifically meet the needs of veterans. Kens story was so simple that my wife and I were amazed both of us are retired educators and now we pastor the people at Saint Joseph United Methodist Church. I deliver messages of love and compassion and creation and God's love for all creatures. Schools and churches typically complicate issues. Ken does not. He simply wanted to help raise the quality of life for veterans and he simply wanted to help save dogs with out a home. When Linda and I have visited in Ken and Brenda's home, we have been amazed with their orderliness, their cleanliness, the quality of their time management, their patience with the dogs and with each other, and their obvious love in helping others. Ken has committed himself to a life of excellence in training dogs to help veterans. He and Brenda live a very simple life in regard to the material world. As long as they have the dogs to train, the love and support of eachother, assistance from volunteers, their goal seems to be met. They do not complain about living simply and giving all they have to the Working Dogs For Vets.  Linda and I gave them our female German Shepherd in June 2014 because we had overestimated our strength in handling two German Shepherds. We did not fret over getting the Shepherd going through the first few months of living with a pup, paying for spaying, etc. Our one and only option was to donate Hildegard to Working Dogs For Vets so another vet in need could get good service. The dogs need Ken, the veterans need the dogs. 

Team Kris/Hero

Memphis TN

I am a disabled veteran 100% service connected. My local VA highly suggested I get a service dog trained to assist me due to my disabilities. I looked into various organizations, and found the cost of a trained dog is as much as $20,000.00, which does not include my traveling and hotel bills to any of the organizations. As I spend most of day in a wheelchair it is difficult to travel, and certainly don't have the finances that most of these organizations charge. Luckily I found Working Dogs For Vets. Volunteers agreed to take my black Lab (Hero) and train her to meet my needs as a disabled vet. I have never been asked for a fee for their services. I however have donated on my own some funds to help what they do for my dog, and many many other veterans. 

Team Richard/Buddy

Hillsboro NH

Working Dogs For Vets has been an absolute God send for me, providing me with assistance, advice and an ear while I have been training my dog Buddy to be my service dog. I spent 17+ years in the military, was medically retired and am 100% disabled from the VA. I take pain meds, anti-anxiety meds, pills for depression and pills so I can sleep. I also have to take pills to counteract the effects the other pills have on my body. A Service dog will go a long way to helping get off medication, and lead a normal productive life. The process to get a dog through the VA is a long laborious process, going outside the VA was my best option, however, the demand for dogs far outpaces the availability, so I decided to adopt from a local rescue and take my chances. Working Dogs For Vets has been helping me with advice, techniques and support over the phone, all without asking for a dime from me! I wish more people had their heart.

Team Billie/Mosses

Glassboro, NJ

I am a 59 year old, female disabled Air Force Veteran with Lupus Erythromytosis, Sarcoidosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. My diseases render me at times unable to move my legs and either bed-ridden, or ambalatory only with crutches. I also suffer daily from extreme fatigue which inter feres with my ability to wake myself, even with alarms, to completedaily tasks, but most importantly, take my daily medications. Good days render me often unable to do simple physical tasks. Periods of flairs make normal daily function impossible without my dog, Moses a 10 year old border collie. I have been involved with obedience and other training of my own animals all my life, as I was raised on a farm in Louisiana. I have successfully trained dozens of dogs and otehr animals; however, I was unfamiliar with training service animals until I contacted Ken Knabenshue. 

 

I first contacted Working Dogs for Vets on August 4, 2014 because I read an aritcle about Ken Knabenshue's program (Working Dogs For Vets In House Program) that trains service dogs for veterans and,(The No Veteran Left Behind Program) which offers assistance to veterans who want to train thier own service dogs, FREE OF CHARGE. The purpose of my contact was three -fold; gather information and determine legitimacy of the organization; train my own service dog to be more assistance to me; and ultimately, I believe I can learn to train dogs to help other veterans as well, which is a specific goal of the program. 

 

I called Working Dogs for Vets and spoke to Kenneth Knabenshue for approximately 30-40 minutes. I have years of experience training animals and Ken inspired me. As I listened to Ken speak, his experience training dogs and dedication to veterans was profoundly evident. I never considered that I could train my dog to help me with daily functions that are so difficult for me at times. Ken immediately gave me ideas and instructions to help in my particular circumstances. I completed the application and physicians exam required by W.D.F.V. and within days I was sent the Service Dog Registration Certificate, ID Badge, and Patches to sew on a vest for my service dog. 

 

The first task I began working on was having Moses pick up things I drop or can't reach; Moses accomplished that in 2-3 days because of Kens instructions. Next I worked on having Moses close doors for me: 10 minutes a day and a week and 1/2 later, Moses closes the door on command (video available link) Moses also reminds me to take my daily medication at the same time every day; even waking me when I am asleep, and will not stop barking until I take my medication. I would have never thought of teaching my dog these tasks if it had not been for that first conversation I had with Ken. I have called several times with training questions and IMMEDIATELY was given a working solution. I have the ability to train dogs, but without ken's knowledge and assistance, it would take hours of research and reading to learn what Ken articulates in "seconds."

 

Since initial contact with WDFV, I have interacted with other veterans who are also dependent on (Working Dogs for Vets) for assistance with their dogs. 

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Contact Information:

Working Dogs For Vets

2781 Hwy 43 North

Lawrenceburg, TN 38464

Tel: 84-Dogs-Help=843-647-4357

support@workingdogsforvets.org

or Shelter contacts adopt@workingdogsforvets.org

Working Dogs For Vets is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

Federal Tax Id # 47-2426504

©2018 Working Dogs For Vets

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