Remember Our True Heroes on Veteran’s Day
When John, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, enters a room people take notice. His confidence, genuine candor, shy smile and constant companion, Budd, his service dog, immediately inspire those around him.
As a Marine Infantry Sergeant with 2/7 Fox Company, John was dedicated to fighting and winning our nation’s battles. After John was paralyzed in a motor vehicle accident in 2006, he began fighting a different battle alongside Budd, his Labrador Retriever service dog, who was trained and provided by America’s VetDogs.
The America’s VetDogs program provides guide and service dogs to veterans and active duty service members with disabilities. America’s VetDogs and its parent organization, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, are the only two assistance dog schools in the United States accredited by both Assistance Dogs International and the International Guide Dog Federation.
Understanding the great need to advance canine health, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind has enrolled four of its breeding Golden Retrievers in Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. We often refer to our study-participating dogs as “heroes” because they will help us better understand canine cancer. And while Budd isn’t a Golden Retriever, and therefore doesn’t qualify to enroll in the study, he is a true canine hero helping another hero.
John says his road to recovery has come in three forms: helping others, participating in sports and experiencing the loyalty of Budd, an extra-special yellow Labrador Retriever.
“Having Budd and America’s VetDogs in my life not only gave me strength but gave me a reason to wake up each morning and be glad I’m alive,” John says.
John is a sponsored ambassador for Disabled Sports USA and Challenge Athletes Foundation. He began mono-skiing in 2011, and despite having no prior skiing experience, he successfully competed at the national level, finishing top five in the country. John also placed first in a NASA powerlifting competition, as the only disabled lifter to lift against able-bodied competitors. He is currently pursuing the goal of qualifying for the 2016 US Paralympics team.
A common face around local hospitals, John is a mentor for new patients with spinal cord injuries, and has completed a master’s program to become a recreational therapist. With Budd by his side, John is one of our nation’s heroes.
To learn more about Morris Animal Foundation and our other programs please visit morrisanimalfoundation.org.