I have often written and spoken of the many things I've done in my life, and to that end, I have kept a journal of the events in my life. Good or bad, they are mine and mine alone. They have surely made me the guy I am. This is my bio. Perhaps someone, somewhere, someday will understand.
We were farm-raised kids, I’m one of six brothers and five sisters. We possess can-do, anal-retentive determination, and a constitution/drive equal to that of the two John Deere tractors we used on the family farm in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
My wife Nancy and I were neighbors since 1961. Went to the same school bus stop together, fell in love, and married right out of High-School. I have certainly put her through a lot of trials and tribulations over the last 43 plus years! Nancy has stood by me through the thick and thin and the good and bad. We raised two boys together: Timothy with a Law Degree (he and his wife operate a law firm in Texas and have three sons) and Jake (he and his wife both work in the medical field and live in Pennsylvania where they have two girls with another child on the way next month).
I make this confession: without Nancy, and her toleration for my crap, I doubt I would have survived everything I have! That should give you as the reader of this essay a sense of my start in life and what the future might hold for us.
Determination, fueled by the notion one’s hardship would provide the mechanism of invention and determination, was the only way possible. After all, I was going to have to come up with the thousands of dollars it would take to buy a service animal.
If you are reading this, you have undoubtedly survived a hardship. You might know something about the word 'hardship' as defined by the Oxford Dictionary. My advice: avoid the politician and look to your future with a four-footed friend like our Rebel-Lee. It will change your outlook on life. Additionally, training your own service animal will give you a life-rewarding bond that no words can truly explain! It is my goal to convey the single and most important part of this course as a training handler/owner: Know yourself, the limitations you have, and never think for a minute “this is a piece of cake.”
There is no comprehensible guidance that specifically protects you and your rights, nor will my PA Representative take up or look at what we had to do during the training of this course or provide any solution to what is or is not required. His only response was to say: “He basically did not want to do so, for there are laws in place already.” Talk about your inefficient government bureaucracy at its finest, topped only by ambiguity and pointless chatter. Classic act of being totally disconnected from the Average Joe as his constituent! That’s not all, I was further infuriated by him/staff not willing to listen with empathy, learn with my life experience folks this is real money being spent! His staff wanted nothing to do with it admitting to me that: “He had no idea what I was looking for or needed.” At best this is what the problem is! Take my advice and experience with the typical politician. I see the whole darn thing as a Mushroom Factory --- pure horse crap!
The other day after a Sunday soccer event for my granddaughters, we went out for an evening meal at a local restaurant. The host’s question was “Is that dog a Service Dog?” I said, “yes, he is, and may I show you my documents in my backpack that support that fact?” The host replied: “We like all dogs and no that would not be necessary.” After which he quickly sat our party of five with no issues thereafter. This shows the need to be stern in your answer, polite in your delivery, and stand your ground. Mom often said: “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”
It will take great effort on the part of the handler/owner of the service dog to become a team together. This process will open you up to accepting the idea this just might improve your life to a point where you can discover that there’s a world out there and you do count! Hard work, a lot of love, and one great relationship with man’s best friend will take on a new meaning! Sympathy is something you will not find on these pages. Empathy is all you should seek, demand, and desire.
I am disabled, not enabled. Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you are sure to cry alone. These words of wisdom have been the rule I've lived with. You should turn those things that piss you off into something positive. Do not think that everyone welcomes you or your four-legged friend and assume until proven differently that most think it's a ploy and/or an outright waste of resources. Clearly, they have yet to meet my PTSD Service Dog. I can assure you it is not “yeah, I heard some are headaches.” Tell them it is not so! I understand it well and taking this course has forever changed my perception of those with PTSD.
The picture above is my service dog, Rebel-Lee, named by his previous owner. The previous owner was no different than myself as my dog carried his baggage well. He carried scars, an ambivalent attitude, injuries, growths, and all the other things we see in life. Abused perhaps, he is a rescue dog from our local SPCA. Luckily, at 3 1/2 years old, he came “pre-programed.” My wife Nancy found and secured him just after Thanksgiving in 2020 We were offered to keep him on a “trial basis,” but I knew we were a team from the moment I saw him. I knew he would make a difference in my life, and we became an inseparable team! We clicked. He picked me and not the other way around! It was as if he read my mind and continues to do so. He understands my thoughts, emotions, and love of animals. We communicated on a level most cannot understand. I'm often called the dog-whisper and this I can say for sure: Rebel-Lee has made my world and life a much better place to live in. He brought life into a broken body.
If you are seeking a service dog for PTSD, Mental Health, Depression, or Anxiety, you have turned your life on the right track. Time and effort are well spent! Even when you are at the doctor’s office or hospital, it becomes a battle. Most people I've encountered ask “CAN I PET YOUR DOG,” have patience with those people. The other day at the courthouse, guess what the guard asked as I went through his security screening. Yup, you guessed it! Smile and educate, but most of all don't get mad as it bothers your service animal. As the service dog will quickly pick up on your displeasure. Educate professionally Respect and toleration work best at building the team you will need!
My son Jake gave me his Army Airborne 173rd Division camo desert hat. I wear this when I expect a battle of sorts, but it has gotten much better. I now only wear it mowing. Taking great pride in my sons, both served their country. Tim was a nuclear submarine, and Jake was a Combat Medic. Jake is now Flight Nurse for the local hospital. I wonder what their future holds knowing I suffered a TBI in the crash. Perhaps the father they had known has changed. Rest assured, things can and will change --- that's evolution --- so don't waste time worrying about it. “I am who I am!” said Popeye! History is just that…history Do not dwell on your past but learn from it.
This farm-raised kid and a dog have partaken in an adventure! This has been as difficult as raising my sons. If you ask anyone who has known me, raising a family is probably the toughest thing I have done in my life. Equal to the task of training Rebel-Lee! This has made me a proactive individual. There are people that might need just someone to say the right thing at the right time, and I try to be that person. Have a positive outlook on your effort. You get out of life what you put into it. In life, one has the possibility to experience many events good, bad, and life-changing. My father often said: “life-altering events are the ones you'll never forget.” I'd rather talk to a guy that held an alligator by the tail than someone who thought they held an alligator by the tail.
The courses offered an efficient method of study in a relaxed time. They provided the tools and knowledge to promote a great foundation to build upon. This was no different than when learning to fly as a private pilot. I had the basic knowledge and looked forward to expanding it during the class. Learning is critical in an ever-changing world. I now can enjoy life and I want to thank Mr. Vincent Fairworth, mentor and tutor, for his guidance in my studies.
The word adjustment comes to mind and what an adjustment it has been. My service dog and I will be okay. This course provided me the expanded knowledge and in doing so allowed me, for the first time since I crashed my aircraft, to believe in myself. An adjustment it has been, but as my Uncle Bud, always said as a World War II B26, Marauder Pilot over Germany: “I would not do anything different for a million bucks, and for sure, I would not sell or repeat my life experiences for twice as much. That's life, kid!” Perhaps he was a co-pilot to my survival. It's not my responsibility to question or reason why.
Please consider this: you can do anything you put your heart into as a team. You and your dog will become one. If I can help in any way to get you to understand the team spirit, I stand ready to help you. It is my desire to do this as someone who has held an alligator named PTSD by the tail, not as someone who thinks they know!
I wish you well in your endeavor. After my plane crash, I realized that God had a plan for me. That plan involved me and my dog, and I’m glad it did.
I have attached some pictures of myself and family. I thank my family members and dedicate this story of survival to them. Without my family and Rebel-Lee, there'd be no life in me. I know this much, training your dog will benefit and help improve your outlook on life and provide a lasting investment beyond any expectations.
PS: Jake's wife is currently in the delivery room as I send tonight; we hope and pray for a new healthy grand-baby. I thank my son Tim & Melany & boys for their editing and abilities that far exceed mine as an individual with limited vision in one eye.
TRAINING FETCH/HOLD/LET-GO/ REBEL & HERB SUMMER 2021
SUMMER 2021 WEEKEND WITH THE GRANDDAUGHTERS SOCCER GAME JAKE, REBEL-LEE & HERB
BROKEN NECK WITH HALO FIXATOR DEVICE DECORATED FOR HALLOWEEN PARTY OCTOBER 2017. AIRCRAFT CRASH RESULTED WEARING
THE HALO WAS WORN FOR 93 DAYS. HUMOR IS THE BEST ANTIDOTE
REBEL-LEE, RACHAEL, & LIZZY JANUARY 2020