(85) How do you Plead? The Veteran’s Need to Speed

Molly, the service dog

Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)

Driving hundreds of miles every week to visit my granddaughter, I see all types of radical driving behavior. Although I learned to drive on the Los Angeles freeways, our stretch of Colorado wins the prize for the worst, most dangerous drivers.

While I thought the need for speed and ownership of aggressive driving belonged to the male driver, it may be related more to PTSD, military service, and Veterans. After all, my city is home to Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base, NORAD, and the Air Force Academy. Veterans frequently retire here because of the majesty of Pikes Peak Mountain and availability of services for the armed forces.

My husband loves to drive fast. He earned himself a ticket for speeding in a school zone (along with at least 70 others on that same day), requiring a court appearance. Unfortunately, the court date fell on a day I cared for my granddaughter nearly 100 miles away. He had to go alone, which for a Veteran with PTSD served as a double punishment for his go faster crime.

William called the court in advance to let them know his service dog, Molly, would go with him. Starting a week before his court date, we prayed that he would make it through the day without too serious a panic attack and that neither he nor Molly would do anything to warrant a contempt of court charge.

William and Molly arrived early. They waited nearly an hour for court to start. The two made friends—Molly as a hunk magnet and William as a chick magnet. William shared his faith with a number of distraught drivers also caught speeding in the same school zone.

Unbeknownst to my husband, the court attorney whittled down his violation. She also scratched out the word “unemployed” that the officer indicated on the ticket when William informed him he was a 66-year old disabled Vietnam Veteran. Instead, she wrote “Molly” as his employer, reinstating William’s dignity.

William and Molly stood together before the judge. The judge looked back and forth between William and Molly several times before smiling. He read the reduced charge and said, “How do you plead, Mr. Graft?”

Surprised by the utter grace of God granted by the court, he said, “Guilty, yes sir.”

The gavel sounded and the judge motioned for him to pay his fees.

“Your honor, if you please; may I add something?”

“Yes, young man.”

“I mean no disrespect to you for wearing shorts to court but I’ve put on weight with the medication I am on and nothing fit this morning.” Even Molly looked at William, holding her breath in anticipation of the judge’s response.

“That’s probably one of the most honest things I’ve heard today. No disrespect felt.”

The judge and the courtroom broke out in laughter.

On his way out of the court that day, people stopped the pair and thanked them for lightening things up in what had been a very tense situation. Even the judge appreciated Miss Molly and her Veteran.

“Will you ever speed again in a school zone?” I asked my husband when I returned home that evening after he woke from his four-hour-PTSD-stress-relieving nap.

“No, ma’am. Well . . . .” He hesitated and then smiled, “We did have a really good time.”

We said a prayer of thanks for the outcome and gave Miss Molly a treat for taking care of William in court.

Is there is a dog command to drool on a driver’s face when he hits the gas pedal? 

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Have you ever taken your service animal into court? How was that experience? Please reply below. 

About the blogger 

Dr. Penelope “Penny” Culbreth-Graft is a retired city manager and graduate professor. She lives with her disabled Vietnam Veteran husband, William, and his service dog, Molly, on Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado. She writes, paints, cares for her husband, and spends time with her granddaughter.