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January, 2020

My Name is "Delta"

by Keith

My name is "Delta," and I am part of a program that is changing lives all over the world. They call this program New Life K9s Service Dogs.

When I was eight weeks old I came into a place they call "prison." I really did not know what to expect, but, it has actually been a pretty cool experience so far. I know that many people say that it’s a place where criminals and bad people come, but I see things for a dog’s perspective; people make mistakes just like us dogs, but we learn from them. Isn’t that what life is all about? Learning to be the very best version of ourselves?

The past eight months I’ve been bonding with my handler, learning new things with my mommy on the weekends, and when I graduate this program they say that I will be able to save someone’s life. And, do you know what the best part of this journey is for me? That I have nine other brothers and a sister that will also become successful service dogs too.

I guess you may be wondering, "What is a service dog?" So, let me explain; we are more than just some’s pet. We are taught from an early age how to think for ourselves and do things that a human may not be able to do for themselves because of a mental of physical illness like "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder." I know that is sounds like a bunch of complicated words, but ever since I was just a small puppy I have known what it means; PTSD is when someone has been exposed to something traumatizing and making it hard for them to cope with things in life. It can be symptoms of anxiety, depression, feeling like the world is closing in on them, and if not handled correctly it can potentially cause someone to commit suicide. Everyday twenty two Veterans and First Responders take their own lives; dogs like me will keep that from happening. We become their lifelong companions and bring out the very best in them by making all those bad feelings go away.

In another year I am going to be placed with a man or woman that is going to need me just as much as I will need them, (yes, us dogs need you humans just as you need us). I will graduate and walk away from this place they call "prison" having gained a lot of knowledge and understanding that other dogs may never get to experience. So, is this place really just for criminals and bad people after all? If you knew some of the guys that take care of me and have become my friends, you would not think so.

We have guys in here that have been taught things that they never should have since they were children , and a lot of them have been abandoned by their own parents that were supposed to be loving them and caring for them. So, the worst thin that you can do is just give up on someone when they make a mistake in their life. The best solution is to teach them what they need to know in order to succeed, and believe me us dogs are no different.

Did you know that taking care of a dog like me is a very big responsibility? We have physical needs like food and water, shelter, and being able to relieve ourselves when we need to. Then, we have our emotional needs like being loved, nurtured, and encouraged to think for ourselves so that we can feel secure and confident. That, my friend, is so much like raising a child. So, believe me when I say that our handlers work had with us so that they can bring out the best in us. They deserve a lot of credit.

When I found out that we would be doing ‘operation gratitude,’ I was very excited and wanted my dad to know. I walked over, laid next to him, put my head on his lap and looked up at him with my big brown eyes. "I’m so proud of you Keith," I thought to myself, "for teaching me another valuable lesson in life, and showing me that these are the things that make life worth living with all that you have no matter where you are." And again, they say that prison is only for bad people?

Today we are recognizing all the things that make people extraordinary; their selflessness and their sacrifices for us, their bravery, and the fact that the have don’t it without ever being pushed to do so. And yes, that is truly what being a hero is all about. So, think about this as you sit out there watching and listening to others share their stories. Think about what these handlers, my friends, are doing each every day as they take on their roles as being the protectors of our well-being, our teachers, and paving the way for our futures.

"Saving lives through the healing power of the human-canine bond"  is the mission statement of New Life K9s. With that also in mind, understand that these men below me are doing just that, saving lives, with an act of selflessness for which no one can ever take from them. Is not that being a "hero" as well?

My name is "Delta." I am a New Life K9s Service Dog. And, do you know what? I am proud of where I come from.

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