Iowa Governor Terry Branstad proclaimed September, 2014 as "Service Dog Month" and recognized Puppy Jake Foundation for it's work in the field.
In a ceremony in the State Capitol, the Governor signed a proclamation discussing the work of a service dog and the demand and waiting list for service dogs for veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and physical mobility issues.
Service dogs in training, puppy raisers, volunteers and a wounded veteran and his family were in attendance. PJF gave Governor Branstad a hat to wear, which he promptly wore.
Actor Gary Sinise, whose memorable roles include Lt. Dan Taylor in the movie Forrest Gump, recognized Iowa's own Puppy Jake Foundation at an event held on July 24th aboard the USS Iowa battleship in Los Angeles. Sinise is an ardent supporter of various veterans' organizations and frequently performs on USO tours for military personnel around the globe. He is a member of the advisory council of the Hope For The Warriors, a national non-profit dedicated to provide a full cycle of non-medical care to combat wounded service members, their families, and families of the fallen from each military branch. Hope for the Warriors will hold its signature event – "Got Heart, Give Hope" -- aboard the USS Iowa with Sinise as the special guest. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Puppy Jake Foundation, Battleship Iowa and Hope for the Warriors.
The Puppy Jake Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-proﬁt organization dedicated to help wounded military veterans with the assistance of well-bred and professionally trained service dogs. Veterans’ injuries may be invisible such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or physical mobility impairments. The foundation advocates for increased awareness and accessibility for those accompanied by a service dog in everyday situations.
“Not only is it an honor to be a part of such a great cause, but our service dogs will get the opportunity to train alongside of the west coast, learning to handle the stress of large crowds and accommodate their future veteran,” said Becky Beach, the founder of Puppy Jake Foundation.
Eight service dogs in training were present, along with eleven volunteer puppy raisers for the celebration. In addition to the USS IOWA, the outing to the Los Angeles area continued with training at Disneyland, a whale watch, the Aquarium of the Pacific, Santa Monica and Venice Beach. Readers are encouraged to donate $25 to $100 to help sponsor a service dog for a wounded military veteran.
We felt honored when approached to raise one of the first service puppies for Puppy Jake Foundation and thrilled that we had the opportunity to name the puppy after family members who were in WWII. We decided on the name “Rudy” after my husband’s father, Walter Rudolph Thoms, Jr. who served in the U.S. Army Infantry from April 1942 until retirement as a Army Reserve Lt. Colonel in August 1968, and after my uncle, Rudolph Joseph Eckstein who served in the U.S. Army Infantry from 1941 to 1947.
Rudy came to us as a 12 week old puppy. Not only did he have to learn about us and a new home, but also Allie, our 85 lb. therapy dog. She is a Golden Retriever/Great Pyrenees. Never intimidated, Rudy adapted quickly.
Over the next 11 months, we realized that Rudy was a quick learner and always wants to please. He brought us clothes, dirty or clean, shoes, keys, unloaded the dryer, and opened drawers and doors. Sometimes we asked him to do these things; sometimes we did not. Therefore, we had to do a lot of “shaping” of these behaviors so they were only performed “on command.”
Rudy is a good traveler. He took his first two day, 18 hour car trip when he was only six months old. Our trip to a family ranch in Texas was an easy one with him in the car. Once on the ranch in Texas, Rudy had much more to learn. Horses, donkeys, chickens, cats and big dogs were to be ignored. He found the ponds and learned to swim. (Note: Did you know that dogs must “learn” to swim? A fun story for another time.) His boundless curiosity led to fascinating walks off-leash. It was a good thing his recall was excellent.
When not wearing his service dog vest, Rudy is a playful dog. However, when he is wearing his vest, Rudy takes his role as a service dog very seriously. Rudy and I visited the Iowa City VA Hospital many times. When one of the veterans we were visiting gave Rudy a command, Rudy would demonstrate his skills of picking up keys, or credit cards, or opening drawers and doors for the veteran. Rudy brought many smiles and laughs to our veterans. He was well behaved, though still a puppy.
When we are at the grocery store, mall and other public places in Cedar Rapids that Rudy frequented, people still ask, “Where is Rudy?” I don’t believe they know my name but they remember Rudy’s.
It is emotionally difficult to give up a service puppy in training. Rudy will find his calling and serve someone who needs him the most. This is our motivation for continuing to be puppy raisers and our way of saying “Thank You!” to our Military Veterans for their service to our country.
Trish and Chris Thoms, Cedar Rapids, IA
On a side note: Both WWII veterans, as boys, were real "hellions", rowdy, very mischievous, and “trouble maker”. There were times PJF’s Rudy would live up to his name sakes, but we still love them all!
My name is Robin Lickteig. My husband Dave and I live south of Des Moines on a couple acres of puppy paradise. I want to share a little about the black lab puppy I am raising and training for Puppy Jake Foundation. My new puppy’s name is Tank. His given name is Nick, after my Grandfather, Harold Nichols. My Grandpa fought in WWII and I wanted to name my brave new little puppy after a military veteran. I then nicknamed him Tank after seeing what a strong and sturdy pup he was.
The standards for the dogs accepted into the PJF program are very high. I went to Clinton, IA with trainer, Renee Jetter to the breeder Victoria Walker, where Renee temperament tested each dog that we were considering. We brought all three black lab puppies home that she tested that day. They all passed with flying colors. Tank’s training began immediately. He has to work for his food so twice a day we train. He quickly responded to the clicker training method that we use for all our dogs in the organization. It is a training method that uses only positive reinforcement. He is so smart and so eager to please that he easily performs the tasks asked of him.
Tank is not the first service dog I have trained. I raised and trained a yellow lab named Dee. She was placed with her recipient in March 2013. She lives with him in Maquoketa, IA. It was extremely hard to see her go. I didn’t think I could raise and train another service dog until I saw what a difference Dee made in her new recipient’s life. So when Becky approached me about raising and training another dog, I accepted. Raising and training a service dog is much different than training a dog to be a pet. Tank goes everywhere with me. Restaurants, grocery stores, meetings, Dr. Appointments...........well, you get the idea. Legally there is nowhere that a service dog cannot go except churches, and most are very accommodating once prior approval has been given.
Time flies. I started writing this when I first got Tank and he was 10 weeks old. He is now over a year old. He has matured into an amazing companion. He will be placed in his forever home with his very deserving recipient in only a few months. This is bittersweet for me. I will miss him terribly but he will go on to live a very productive life with someone who needs him. I have two other dogs at home. One is older than Tank and the other one younger. At home he is just another member of the family. He has to mind his manners and play appropriately. He is happy to accommodate me in exchange for the endless amount of love given to him in return.
I am excited to see where Tank’s life will lead. I believe he will continue to learn and do great things for someone.
Puppy Jake Foundation’s CLARENCE is named after my father-in-law, Clarence Bailey, who was born April 24, 1931 in Ottawa, IL. In 1954, Clarence married Joyce Veronda of Marseilles. He served in the US Air Force in England and Germany as a communications lineman during the Korean War and was a member of the American Legion Post #235.
Clarence was a graduate of Marseilles High School. Mr. Bailey was a commercial photographer for International Harvester and then a free-lance photographer for many years. For 24 years, Clarence was a Rutland Illinois Township Supervisor, was a member of the first Marseilles Board Police Commission, a former member of Marseilles Rotary Club and Northern Illinois Photographers Association. Clarence was a patriot who often shared emails and Facebook posts with his friends in support of our active military, veterans and his love of America.
Shortly before his death on February 20th, 2014, Clarence got the chance to meet his namesake, service dog in training, CLARENCE. In spite of being in much pain near the end of his life, we got to see Mr. Bailey smile and laugh as he repeatedly said, “I love that dog!” CLARENCE the puppy, has already shown us an early vision of his ability to bring comfort to those in pain, both physically and emotionally.
February 23rd marks the first anniversary of Puppy Jake Foundation and we are so proud of what we have accomplished in just one short year! The Foundation began with one yellow retriever named Jake, and has grown before our eyes. PJF currently has 12 dogs in training and will add over 12 more by Fall 2014.
Puppy Jake Foundation service dogs have been very busy with their training schedule in order to prepare to be placed with deserving wounded military veterans. To practice essential skills and expand their training beyond Iowa, PJF dogs took a trip to San Diego. The trip to California was a great success; the dogs did terrific on airplanes, moving walkways, glass elevators, boats, trolleys, metros, buses, cabs, aboard the USS Midway, and meeting dolphins and seals. Future destinations for PJF dogs include Kansas City and Chicago.
Although we have wonderful dogs in our program going through rigorous training, we would not be able to fulfill our mission without our wonderful supporters. Puppy Jake Foundation has grown to include more than 50 Puppy Raisers and Puppy Sitters, hundreds of general volunteers and thousands of supporters. In just one year, our Facebook has more than 4,770 followers.
The financial support we have received has also been beyond expectations. By the end of 2013, Puppy Jake Foundation had financial contributions from hundreds of individuals and dozens of local businesses. One program in particular stood out; Hy-Vee Homefront chose Puppy Jake Foundation as one of the military organizations to support for the year. Also, Puppy Jake Foundation has been recognized as one of the top three non-profit organizations in Cityview’s annual "Best of Des Moines".
Of all of our accomplishments in 2013, Puppy Jake Foundation is ecstatic to get our first group of service dogs placed with deserving wounded military veterans in Fall of 2014. Please check back in with us to see what’s going on with Puppy Jake Foundation. Thank you for all your continuous support!
We are excited to announce Puppy Jake Foundation has been nominated “Best Non-Profit” in the Cityview “Best of Des Moines” poll. Readers were asked to vote for their favorite Des Moines businesses, events and more, and Puppy Jake Foundation has been named one of the Top 3 charitable organizations in the area!
It’s an honor to be included among the nominees, especially in such a strong and generous giving community. It’s further proof that people believe strongly in our cause and are supportive of our goal of providing service dogs to deserving American veterans with disabilities.
“Best of” winners will be announced Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. Thanks to everyone who voted!
Mark your calendars…
Join Puppy Jake Foundation for a night to honor America’s heroes. We’re staging our second annual fundraiser to thank those who have given so much for our freedom. Proceeds go to help Puppy Jake Foundation provide service dogs for wounded military veterans. Tickets start at $100 per couple and sponsorships are available. Contact us to order your ticket and reserve your place at this special event.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Sticks Studio 3631 SW 61st Street, Des Moines
As the holidays are quickly approaching, you are probably making last minute snowy filled trips to the mall to pick up gifts for your family and friends. You are also planning trips to visit family across the country. As you are making 2014 a special holiday season for your family in the U.S., imagine the soldiers serving our country throughout the world and those who have served in the past. As these brave men and women have put our country before their own wants and needs this Christmas and previous holidays, think about the impact you can have on their lives. This is how you can help:
As you know, Puppy Jake Foundation’s mission is to improve the physical and emotional wellbeing of wounded military veterans through well bred, socialized and professionally trained service dogs. From your generous donations, we are able to select, train and place service dogs to assist men and women of the U.S. Armed Services in their homes and in the community.
Puppy Jake Foundation has committed to help a specific veteran, Steve, with financial assistance this Christmas season. Steve is a disabled combat veteran in need of a service dog for seizures and severe PTSD. He served in USMC 93-97 (Gulf War, Somalia and Bosnia). He is unable to work and support his family of 8 due to his disabilities and numerous ailments. Steve is a perfect example of a veteran that has given so much to our country. Until January 1st, ALL donations will be directed to the training of Freedom, the service dog in training who will be placed with Steve.
Service dogs can perform tasks, improve mobility and provide unconditional love. Raising and training dogs can be expensive, but those costs pale in comparison to what our Armed Forces members have given for this country. Help us improve our heroes’ lives at home and in our communities.