“I absolutely love dogs. I’ve had two golden retrievers in my life. First was Roscoe. I didn’t know anything about training dogs or working with dogs, and of course he was super spoiled. He had a really good life and then I missed him terribly after he was gone. I was asked one time what I wanted for a birthday present and I said ‘I need another golden.’ So then Abbey came along. ‘Abbey’ was short for Abbey Road, the Beatles song. Abbey came into my life and we had a great time. And then she went.
I just can’t go through the departure again. I can’t do it. So I can get all my dog love here.
Most people might think this would be insignificant. I’m volunteering in the Training Kennel and I have about ten minutes left before my shift ends, and I say, ‘Guys, what do you need me to do?’ and they say, ‘Well if you want to brush Goldie, he needs a brushing; he got dirty playing.’
So Goldie comes over—a wonderful golden retriever, unlike my two golden retrievers which were the hellions of the neighborhood. Goldie sits down like the greatest golden, and I completely brush him. He’s clean. Everything’s great.
I come back a week later for my shift, and I say, ‘Hey, why don’t you give me Goldie and I’ll take him out for a stroll?’ And they say, ‘Well, Goldie’s gone.’
So Goldie goes up to Walter Reed, which is now the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which is my old neighborhood—Maryland—where I’m from. So Goldie is now a facility therapy dog up there and he gets commissioned and everything else.
And I realize something—I had hands on. Granted, I was only brushing Goldie. But knowing that you did something…you worked with this dog, and then you find out what its destiny became, and you say, ‘Well, I helped put him there.’ It was one small itty bitty tiny little thing amongst a myriad of things that people do around here, and there’s something about knowing you were part of it. Knowing I’m helping veterans, I mean, it’s awesome.”