Category Archives: Navy

John, a Navy Veteran, and his Sancho

We received these adorable pictures from our longtime client and friend, John, a Navy Veteran, who suffers from the after-effects of strokes and a heart attack, and his “partner in crime”, SD Sancho. John’s caregiver, Mary wrote:

“Hello Laurie,

We had to send you these. We gave Sancho treats and he earned them! If Sancho talked he would have asked for the treats. I laughed then I saw how Sancho waited with incredible patience until he got a treat. I could not get a picture before these and he had his nose to the treats, but he restrained himself! John could not be more proud of Sancho being Sancho. John laughed too, and then showed how much he loved Sancho by rewarding him for asking for the treats. This made John’s day!

Love ya – John, Mary, Michele, SD Sancho, SD Snowball, and Kathy”

It’s wonderful to hear that John was happy – he has been through so much – but he never lets his disability keep him from keeping up with training his SD, Chesapeake Bay Retriever 8 year-old Sancho. They have a bond that is truly inexplicable.

Don and Herman

Our trainer, Andrew, had a wonderful session with Don, a Wounded Warrior with PTSD and social anxiety who writes that he would like his Service Dog, Herman, “To be present with me in 90% of my activities. I wish to do car trips with him. He gives purpose to the things I do, including volunteer work at the hospital, church, or Police Department”. What a beautiful sentiment!

Andrew writes: “During this session, we went over the basics; “sit”, “down”, “wait”, “heel (loose)”, “don’t pull”, and some classical conditioning. This process is very effective, as Herman is already very well under control! The bond that he has with Don is joyful and happy. Herman is very attentive and very well-behaved. They are already well-practiced at walking to the coffee shop off leash!”

Congratulations to Elizabeth and SD Beatrice


From Laurie:  They passed the Public Access Test at the mall despite all the crowds! I am so proud of Elizabeth! She is WAY too humble to take credit for all the work she did training Beatrice in between sessions, but she did an amazing job and Beatrice is the PERFECT Service Dog. Most importantly – the way that Elizabeth shares Beatrice with all who ask to pet her – children and adults – is beyond beautiful. Elizabeth realizes how much joy Beatrice brings to everyone she meets – and Elizabeth shares that joy openly. Of course, when it’s time to work, Beatrice works – but the beauty of it is not only that Elizabeth has an amazing Service Dog that does her job – but that she teaches others and shows by example. I must say, the funniest part of it was going through the fancy department stores with their Gucci and Armani and perfectly coiffed sales people with a small horse and surprising them at every turn! I think Beatrice preferred the new perfume by Estee Lauder the best. TEE HEE. My husband, Joey, even tried to taunt Beatrice with a French Fry at the food court, but Beatrice showed him!

I am going to miss my dear, dear friend Elizabeth and beautiful, drooling Beatrice when they move!! Elizabeth’s new job will entail her continuing to help our Wounded Warriors – but now that she has Beatrice by her side, I think just seeing that humungous, loveable Service Dog will heal others better than any drug!!


Unbelievable kindness

Unbelievable kindness. Ken, a Wounded Warrior who has Service Dog “Mozart”, does this amazing artwork. He is donating proceeds from the sale of it to help wounded warriors get funding for Service Dog training with Service Dog Express!!! THANK YOU KEN!!!!!

Helping Veterans suffering from PTSD the oppurtunity to adopt  service dogs to assist in their rehabilitation at no cost
Helping Veterans suffering from PTSD the opportunity to adopt service dogs to assist in their rehabilitation at no cost

Talk about inspirational people!

Talk about inspirational people!! All of you are such inspirations to us at Service Dog Express!!

Here is an update on 53 year-old Wounded Warrior John, and his 8 year-old SD, Sancho. They keep on truckin! Even though John has suffered many strokes and a heart attack, he still wakes up every morning focusing on the positives in his life – especially the love he has for his best buddy, Sancho. They continue to go on walks with John in his scooter, and some days, John will walk without being in a scooter to keep his legs moving. He takes SUCH good care of Sancho – teeth cleanings, joint supplements, and keeps himself busy by reading all he can about dog training. John has difficulties finding words sometimes because of his strokes, and his memory can sometimes escape him, but nevertheless, he persists and usually expresses more concern about how I am doing when we talk or visit than how HE is doing. What a compassionate, selfless man! Here is a recent update from John’s wonderful caretaker, Mary:

These are the photos I forgot to send yesterday. This is a quiet Walmart. We went here to get some vitamins and flavored water with my sister, Kathy, who suffers from schizophrenia. A few customers noticed Sancho’s adorable shoes, and he attracted so much loving attention! Sancho was on his best behavior – as usual – and everyone there talks about how calm and sweet Sancho is! The bottom picture is John talking with the optician at the Walmart.”


Manakenn Art 2014

Look at this beautiful artwork done by former client, Wounded Warrior Ken, with SD Mozart!! For each sculpture he sells, a portion of the proceeds he will donate to our non-profit, In Dog We Trust!! THANK YOU AND BLESS YOU KEN!!!!

Helping Veterans suffering from PTSD the oppurtunity to adopt  service dogs to assist in their rehabilitation at no cost
Helping Veterans suffering from PTSD the opportunity to adopt service dogs to assist in their rehabilitation at no cost

John and his wonderful SD Sancho

Veteran John and his wonderful SD Sancho are still going strong! Sancho is getting a few grey hairs – he’s 8 – but he still listens to every one of John’s commands and is as lovable as ever! John has been taking extra care of himself because they believe he is having mini-strokes, which sometimes affect his speech and memory along with his movement – but he’s a real trooper and tries not to let it get him down! Caretaker Mary takes John and Sancho to all their appointments at the VA and with specialists, and Sancho is still as helpful and devoted as ever. John just loves Sancho to pieces!

Mary wrote about their recent outing to the Garden Center on Bandera Rd, were they got 3 plants. John loves to garden, and at our last session, he and Mary had cleaned up all the vegetable and flower beds and it was beautiful! They also went to Walmart and got some cactus and hats for the sun protection. It is important for John and Sancho to get out the house and walk and just get away from things so that John does not have to stay at home and focus on his disabilities. Amazingly, even with the inability to use one arm, John volunteers at the Guide Dogs of Texas, washing drinking bowls, helping keep things clean, and being around other dogs. His volunteer work gives him something to make him feel purposeful. John and Sancho will also continue to do therapy dog work as they have been – they are so good at it, and John has a wonderful sense of humor that is infectious for those who are in need of uplifting.

Here are some pictures of me outside with Sancho – I love to brush him with the Furminator because he sheds so much and I know it feels good for him! You can also see from the pictures how much Sancho loves John. And Sancho does REALLY well in his booties!!!


5 dogs for 5 Wounded Warriors

We at Service Dog Express have had a quite eventful and absolutely fulfilling experience the past two Saturdays! It started over a month ago, when one of our clients with his SD was attending the inpatient Wounded Warrior PTSD clinic at Laurel Ridge Psychiatric Hospital here in San Antonio. So many of the other Wounded Warriors there were astounded by this client’s SD, that we started getting phonecalls from the inpatients asking if they could obtain SDs.

Coordinating it all was extremely difficult, but over two Saturdays we were able to bring together our trainers, various fosters, rescues from In Dog We Trust, and a TON of dogs onto the unit to meet and greet all the potential clients. It was a tremendous success!! I’m sure the front lobby wasn’t too happy with the parade of hair most likely left from all the dogs we brought, but I am SO pleased to say that we matched up 5 dogs with these Wounded Warriors!!!!! It was like a grand opening shopping event!

The most amazing thing was to see how each warrior’s countenance and demeanor changed when the dogs were brought into the unit. Their sad eyes brightened, they were excited, frowns turned to smiles, as they petted and met each of the dogs. Even the staff seemed happier! So, the 5 new adopters will receive their dogs once they are released from the inpatient unit – all papers were signed – and we will train with them once they are released.

I wish I could have taken pictures, but it is against Laurel Ridge policy. Thank you to everyone who participated in these monumental days – and five new dogs now will have forever homes!!!!!


Regarding the post above about Laurel Ridge. Those of you who posted such incredibly negative postings were uninformed and unaware of how this process worked. I will not waste my time justifying your hatred, I will only present the facts so you can be a little bit more “educated” about how this process worked.

We were sent client submission forms from several of these Wounded Warriors who are in the TRANSITION unit at Laurel Ridge. The DOCTORS at Laurel Ridge who observed what a difference the SD, Sassy, had made with this one Wounded Warrior wrote PRESCRIPTIONS for these select Wounded Warriors for a Service Dog based upon what they observed in the healing process that took place between Sassy and his owner. They INVITED us to come. We did not initiate this. The warriors met the dogs on two separate occasions – which took hours and hours of work on behalf of our fosters, trainers, and the staff at Laurel Ridge. NONE of these inpatients received dogs while still inpatients. They were prescribed the dogs as part of the HEALING process when they are eventually released back into the civilian world. EVERY single dog that was chosen by a Wounded Warrior, again, with the ADVICE of their doctor or caseworker will not be receiving the dog until they are back home. Each Wounded Warrior who has chosen a dog has also been assigned a TRAINER from Service Dog Express to follow-up with them on training and helping them reintegrate into society just as we do any other Wounded Warrior who comes to us seeking the healing aid of a Service Dog. I don’t know where this term “contract” came up that many of you are referring to – the warriors simply chose a dog that they spent several hours with accompanied by a trainer to see if it were a good fit – and if they decided, again, along with their doctors or caseworkers that the match was well made, the ADOPTION papers were signed so that each warrior was properly matched with their dog. In addition, all dogs, no matter how far along in their Service Dog training they were (ALL now basic commands), were DONATED to these Wounded Warriors. No “money” was made off of this for any of us. We all did this out of the goodness of our hearts and because we, again, were INVITED by Laurel Ridge. In fact, we have been invited back AGAIN to work with some more Wounded Warriors in the female unit who will be transitioning back into civilian life because the DOCTORS and CASEWORKERS were so impressed with the high caliber of dogs we brought and how carefully we assessed each warrior and the dog they chose – again – ALL GIVEN PRESCRIPTIONS BY THEIR PHYSICIANS OR CASEWORKERS for this incredible experience to heal with a Service Dog by their sides. And I am NOT going to delete and ban all you naysayers until you have had a chance to read this – because you have ALL missed the point. What we have done at Service Dog Express by helping these Wounded Warriors is given them hope and joy – if you had been there to see the way their faces lighted up when they realized they could benefit from a Service Dog – the literal tears of joy – you would all be saying the exact OPPOSITE of what you posted and “shared”. These Service Dogs will, as always, be part of the healing process for these men and women who are now going back home, many alone, to civilian life – and their spirits have been uplifted by knowing that they will have a “Battle Buddy” by their side. Again, these dogs, who we normally charge adoption fees for because of the amount of training we have put into them, were given to these men and women for FREE. Maybe you all should be looking at the fact that more lives will be SAVED because of what we did – it was in all respects a labor of love for all of us involved – instead of focusing on the ridiculous comments that imply we did this to “make money” or to “prey on vulnerable people”. If you have issue with this, ask the doctors and caseworkers who finally thought “out of the box” and realized by actually SEEING the healing power of these dogs – and prescribed them for our amazing warriors to help them in their new lives. So, from what has been written below, it seems that everyone who posted such vulgar and uninformed posts would rather see our valiant men and women rely on drugs and get shoved out into the world back into loneliness and reliance upon drugs and other unhealthy methods to “cope” instead of knowing they will have a highly trained and continuously trained Service Dog to be by their sides. All I can say is shame on you. You care more about what you “think” Service Dog Express cares about – money, publicity, etc., than actually what we DO care about – and that is enhancing the lives of all of those who can benefit from a Service Dog. Shame on you.

Congressional Inquiry to the VA for SD costs

OK! THIS IS SERIOUS!!! What I need from as many Texas wounded warriors as possible is an email or documentation regarding any physicians, counselors, psychiatrist, etc., who have “recommended” that each of you would benefit from a Service Dog. Congressman Pete Gallego’s office is taking on this matter of the VA saying veterans can benefit from Service Dogs, but the VA refuses to pay for it. PLEASE take the time to send me the information so we can get this changed – even if you already have been through the training process, you deserve reimbursement. My direct email is [email protected]. If you are in the middle of the training process or about to begin, you deserve reimbursement. But I NEED YOUR HELP to make this work. Here is the latest email and phone call I received from Gallego’s office. Of course, I will be filling out the privacy release form for myself to go ahead with these inquiries today. This currently applies to Wounded Warriors living in Texas.


I have attached a privacy release form for you to fill out yourself. I am going to send an inquiry to the VA as to why they do not pay for the dogs that they are prescribing to Veterans. On the second page of the form make sure you write in detail who it is that writes the prescriptions as well as who makes the decision that the Vet needs a service dog. If we can get the VA to pay for the dogs, it would really help these guys out and it would probably streamline the process and standardize it as well. If you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to call me. On a personal note, as a Veteran I wanted to thank you for making this your life’s work!

Kind regards,

Joseph Van Kuiken
Office of Congressman Pete P. Gallego (TX 23)”

The Veteran Owned Business Project

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