(177) Taps: Saying Goodbye to Miss Molly

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Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)

Our last two blogs addressed military bugle calls of Reveille and Sunset. Taps sounds the final bugle call of the day. The terminology “taps” comes from the Dutch term taptoe, which means “close the beer taps and send the troops back to camp.” The well-known tune goes by the name of “Butterfield’s Lullaby” or “Day is Done.”

Letting Go of Precious Miss Molly

Molly snuggles with WilliamOur family weeps for the need to move Miss Molly to a new home due to my severe breathing problems. After three months of fighting for every breath, we made the decision to “re-home” her.

Molly’s groomer picked her up one evening and called to tell us about the possibilities of new homes for her. Until a new home is found, Miss Molly stays with the groomer and her two large male dogs. As it turns out, Miss Molly dominates the boys, who willingly submit to her alpha-mom status. She also reported that Molly, a 135 pound St. Bernard/Great Pyrenees, sleeps in bed between her and her husband. With a huge backyard and two playmates, Molly runs and plays all day—something she did not get to do living with us. The groomer reports that she sometimes sits in a corner and whimpers, breaking our hearts even more.

The Dilemma 

Molly giving William loveMolly served many roles in our home: protector, friend, PTSD coach, brace and balance expert, service dog, and our canine love. Her role intervening in PTSD attacks for my Veteran made her indispensable for his disability. She even helped me with brace and balance while undergoing chemotherapy. So, to be faced with a decision about accommodating my severe asthma or William’s need for his service animal, I would have preferred to live with my condition. Unfortunately, my doctor made it clear that living with my condition would not last long, as the damage to my lungs threatens my life.

Molly licking her lipsFor days after giving her up, we see Molly running up the stairs, we hear her dewclaws clicking on the floor, and hear her snoring in the closet—only she isn’t here. We grieve with tears large enough to fill dry lakes. While in the kitchen, I hear sobbing from the den where my husband grips the arms on his chair. The microwave drowns out my sobs but moisture on my apron betrays my sorrow. When I serve dinner and Miss Molly no longer surfaces from naptime to sniff the menu, my Veteran and I hold hands and pray that Miss Molly finds a good home and is doing well. Before falling asleep at night after Taps, we long to hear her snoring just one more time.

The Finality of Taps 

Miss Molly in patriot dressWhen I started the three-part series on bugle calls, I planned to talk about the relief it brings one. It tells us the day is in the past. Whatever we left behind stays behind. Taps tells us turning back events cannot happen and the time has come to let go of the day, looking forward to tomorrow.

With the loss of Miss Molly in our lives, the final bugle call becomes more final for us. Prospects of tomorrow without our lovable fur ball pains us like daggers in the heart. Taps reminds us we cannot get in the car and retrieve Molly to tell her we love her and it was all a mistake. Taps tells us that we must truly let her go.

Molly sits on William's lapSaying Goodbye to the Molly Blog 

Because this blog is Molly’s blog, it cannot continue without her. While this blogger remains committed to encouraging Veterans and their family caregivers, without the heart and stories of Miss Molly, I must also let go of the blog. This is the last blog.

Taps to Miss Molly 

Although I wrote a poem when my cat died, I do not have the words to express the loss of our Miss Molly. I will end by saying:

Miss Molly with CadburyMiss Molly we love you so much. Thank you for loving us unconditionally. Thank you for your loyalty to my Veteran. For your slobbering, messes, and snoring, I’m sorry I complained. You were a blessing to our household. We will never forget how you changed our lives for the better. May God grant you a new loving home with vast fields to run and play. May he grant you a family, who needs you as much as we do. May you continue to inspire great stories and touch others as deeply as you touched us.

For Miss Molly, Taps plays.

May you rest in the Butterfield’s Lullaby.

(175) Reveille Roust: Our Wake-up Call

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Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)

I admit that I am an insomniac. The rhythm of my internal clock works contrary to the bugle calls we hear from our local military base. I rise long before reveille and listen to taps hours before retiring. While productive for completing a caregiver’s task list, agitation accompanies my condition, sending my household into a tailspin. Even Miss Molly sleeps with her head buried under clothes in the closet to avoid my early-morning rousting and late-night vigils.

Honoring the American Flag and Our Warriors

soldier saluting flag

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Airman 1st Class Hrair H. Palyan explained that reveille, retreat, and taps all serve to show respect for the flag and honor Airman, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines from past to present.  Ellsworth Air Force Base website

I asked my Veteran the role reveille played in his military service. His response surprised me.

“Always too early. Get up or get hit upside the head. Another day. Same routine.”

As a young man fighting in the bush of Vietnam, I expected the sound of reveille twisted in his belly and sent shivers along his spine, knowing what dreaded tasks awaited his unit. Instead, he viewed it as routine. I suppose when living in a heightened state of awareness every minute of every day on the battlefield, the early-morning rousting presented nothing more than a marker that another day begins.

Caregiver’s Opportunity

magnified to do list

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Making to-do lists keeps me going forward as a caregiver. No matter the daily challenges, those lists keep me focused and productive. For a caregiver, reveille comes too early but it gives her (or him) a chance to have quiet and peace before the household rises. It offers an opportunity to pray, meditate, and prepare for what lies ahead. In these early hours, we gain the strength to serve our Veteran and other family members. It offers time to enjoy a cup of tea and scratch out the to-do list.

Perhaps, with reveille, whether by bugle call from a nearby base or an alarm clock, an exciting new task might be added to our to-do lists—a task that holds fun or excitement for us and/or our Veteran. This might include a walk in a park, going to a movie, putting together a puzzle, having lunch with a friend, or taking our Veteran and service dog to the local library or hospital to cheer others in need. While several of these ideas require advance planning, adding that planning to our to-do list today allows us to enjoy that exciting venture on another day after reveille calls.

Veterans’ Opportunity

My Veteran hates to-do lists but always manages to finishes those I make for him. While I do not envision him making them for himself, his contentment with his routine brings peace to my hectic days.

For Veterans viewing reveille as routine, perhaps shaking up the day with a new challenge could chase away the doldrums. Check out the VA website for a free class such as PTSD 101 or download the TBI or PTSD coach apps. The VA offers whiteboard discussions about benefits and medical conditions and video testimonials about coping with PTSD and TBI. If none of those options sound appealing, how about a trip to Petsmart with your service dog to find a treat for your loyal canine?

Miss Molly’s Reveille Reaction

While researching reveille, I found the music and played a few bars on my piano for Miss Molly. Even though I waited until noon to play for her, she whined, paced, and howled. I wasn’t sure if she was singing along until she bolted from the room. We found her in the closet with her paws over her ears. How unfortunate, indeed.

Post your Comments: 

How do you respond to reveille? 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 grandchildren.

(174) Old Friends: A VA Meet Up

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Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)


Reunited One-Half Century Later 

Colorado Springs VA FacilityAnxiety filters throughout the waiting rooms, spanning three floors. Discomfort with another visit to the VA Clinic ripples across a sea of faces. Not an easy task, Veterans fought the stress of dealing with their war-related issues and showed up for another day of doctor appointments. Today, however, my Veteran and I witnessed a reunion, which caught the attention of every Veteran within earshot. Slumping shoulders ceased and every set of eyes focused in glee, as two Veterans embraced after 46 years.

While William waited for his doctor, he spoke with a Vietnam Veteran a few years his senior. Finding out they served near one another in Vietnam one year apart, they spoke of difficulties encountered when returning from war and the ensuing years. As they talked, a man approached softly, interrupting the hushed tones of William and the man he just met.

We marveled at what the two friends revealed over the next 30 minutes in their 46-year reunion. After having last seen each other when serving in Vietnam and then assigned to Germany in 1970, they lost touch. In the intervening years, man-come-softly reached out to the men he served with, finding several other Veterans in his city. In his investigation, he found one comrade-in-arms who lived just blocks from him for 18 years and never realized it until four years after the man died. That set him on an urgent mission to connect with other comrades in his town.

The reunion we witnessed began with an embrace and continued after each man’s doctor visit. The entire episode transformed a waiting room from anxiety to excited anticipated as the story of two men’s lives unraveled. Their initial eye contact flashed recognition from a faded memory. Then, a spark lit. No doubt existed in either man’s face that they had served together in a wicked war nearly one-half century earlier. They spoke without hesitation, sharing as though they woke this morning in the barracks together. Filled with smiles and a knowing nod, two long-lost buddies emerged from war nearly 50 years later in a seamless friendship and a shared purpose in life.

A Mother and Her Veteran Daughter

For me, the day’s highlights included meeting the mother of a female Veteran with her service dog. We talked about the therapeutic value of service animals and how it changed the Veteran’s life. An encouraging story, her daughter displays strength by reaching out for help. She added her voice and value to a unique dynamic that could only unveil itself in the waiting room of a VA Clinic—the place to go for a meet up.

Post your Comments: 

Have you experienced a meet-up at a VA clinic or facility that brightened your day? 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 grandchildren.

(173) ADA Trumps a Sneeze: Service Dogs and Allergies

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Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)


Miss Molly, the Sneeze Tease 

Occasionally, asthma tickled the fringe of my life but nothing seriously until recently. In full asthma distress, I sought medical intervention with a breathing treatment and an arsenal of inhalers. Full distress just popped up one day and remains nagging. We identified the source when I walked into the bedroom one evening and collapsed in a coughing fit. Molly peeked out from a hidden corner in the room to assist. At that moment, we knew Molly instigated the attack. My doctor confirmed pet dander is the most frequent cause of adult onset of asthma. I call it OLA, Old Lady Asthma.

A Husband’s Call to Action 

Molly works as William’s service dog to help before and during panic attacks. She assists him with brace and balance. We love her and consider her a member of the family. Nonetheless, his response promised swift relocation to another family if my distress continued.

“Stop! Let’s try everything else first. After all, ADA prevails over my allergy to dander.” I assured him many options exist to Molly just groomed reduce exposure.

So, what do we do?

  1. Get the asthma under control with Prednisone
  2. Banish the dog at night to a faraway location
  3. Schedule maintenance of the house air filtration system
  4. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum
  5. Take the dog to a groomer. Ooh la la, she looks beautiful with her polka dot bows in freshly fluffed fur
  6. Stock inhalers in every room
  7. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum

If this does not work . . .

  1. Banish wife to a faraway location

Taking it Seriously

Mollys polka dot bowsAsthma and allergies to animals are no laughing matter. ADA guidelines state clearly, however, that the rights of people experiencing allergies to a service animal in public places do not prevail over or limit the rights of a disabled person to keep that animal in public. Businesses are encouraged to relocate the individual with allergies to another location whenever possible. I have seen many service dog owners, including my husband, move when someone nearby shows allergy distress. For me, however, that means at least a 20-foot perimeter.

An Uncertain Future 

Asthma may break my lungs, but giving Molly away would break my heart. Here’s hoping for a creative solution to this game of Bridge. In my home, ADA trumps a sneeze. At the very least I can say, “Miss Molly takes my breath away!”

Post your Comments 

What have you done to deal with allergies to pets in your household? 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 grandchildren.

(170) Service Dog Frauds

 Molly's new profile picture

Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)

It happens in grocery stores, in public libraries, shopping malls, and even Costco. Fraudulent critters appear almost everywhere. They sport a fancy vest with the gratuitous “Do Not Pet – Service Animal” splashed in black letters over fluorescent orange. With wet noses thrust in the air, they traipse into public places with wiggles, waddles, and a whine that belie their service-animal status. In short, they are frauds!

These crude violators of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) are not to blame, of course. Their owners make them act so. Their owners dress them up and take them into public places, forcing them into a life of reprobation. Many do so because their pets suffer from separation anxiety. Rather than dealing with it properly, taking Fido along on a shopping trip avoids more costly damage to chewed upholstery and knocked over trash when leaving the pet home alone. For others, their pets offer companionship in a hostile world.

Regardless of the excuse, dressing a pet in a service vest and accessing places otherwise prohibited to animals is illegal and constitutes fraud. Such behavior not only creates a bad name for real service dogs, but it undermines the public trust that is needed to ensure that those with legitimate disabilities will have continued public access with their service animals.

Why so many Canine Criminals? 

In the past year, Miss Molly stayed home when my Veteran traveled to the VA Hospital or local clinic. So many Veterans brought their untrained dogs into the VA that Miss Molly found it difficult to maneuver without a “phony” nipping at her dewclaws or growling as she passed by.

We speculate about why the increase in these illegal pups.

First, ADA intended to make it easy for persons with disabilities to take their service animals into public places. The government wanted to ensure the disabled owner received minimum hassle and embarrassment when using a legitimate, trained service animal. As a result, limitations outlined what a business could ask about the animal and the handler’s disability. Over time, business owners often found it easier not to ask about the status than risk legal action for violating a disabled person’s rights. The general public quickly caught on to business’s hesitancy to query about an animal’s status.

Second, the internet makes it easy for anyone to purchase a service vest and even false credentials. No standardization exists for credentialing with no central registry for service dogs. As well, ADA allows one to train their own service animal with minimum restrictions on an animal’s training other than to support a legitimate disability. These loose standards make it easy for pet owners to overstate their status, if questioned.

Third, many businesses welcome pets, beginning with pet stores that gained recognition as “pet-friendly” shopping meccas. Many dog owners tell me that if they can take their pet into pet stores, why not other places, too—a true case of the “camel’s nose under the tent.” (Is there such thing as a service-camel?)

What’s to be Done? 

This issue appears on legislative dockets across the United States with most states having laws in addition to the federal ADA. Many service animal organizations cry out for revisions to ADA to toughen up the federal law and impose penalties for Fido-infractions (my terminology for fraudulent claims of a service animal).

Just last week, the State of Colorado House passed unanimously HB1308 entitled, “Fraudulent Misrepresentation of a Service Animal.” The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Daniel Kagan, proclaimed that fraudulent claims cause “discrimination against legitimate guide, hearing and service dogs.” The bill moved to the Senate for a hearing scheduled on April 11.

If passed into law, fines for a first offense range from $350 to $1,000. For a third or subsequent offense, a fine, ranging between $1,000 and $5,000 may also include community service hours.

Working like a Dog 

Service vestAs with any job, one must master the skills and give their work attention, commitment, and heart to be successful. Working as a service dog is no exception. Our disabled Veterans and others with disabilities depend upon our furry fellows to navigate public places. We must support our career canines by preserving the service animal’s role and right to access public places without the distractions presented by those verminy, untrained imposters.

By the way, entering the VA clinic today, we noticed several newly-posted signs that declared, “Service Animals Only.” Inside, we heard no dog skirmishes and observed only a few well-trained service animals. It seems the VA is cracking down on the scruffy scofflaws!

Post your Comments: 

Have you ever witnessed a service-animal imposter in a public place? What tipped you off that the animal was not a qualified service animal? 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.

(166) Psychedelic High without Drugs: Dog Art

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Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)


Hallucinating PTSD Medications

Medication for the treatment of PTSD changes frequently with advances in understanding of how the brain works. When PTSD first received an official diagnoses with the revision of the DSM-III (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), drugs that induced hallucinations topped the list of recommended treatments. Although the television comedy show, Laugh In, described a ‘high’ with swirling bursts of color, the hallucinations induced by PTSD treatment never offered such a lovely kaleidoscope of color. Instead, the hallucinations plopped the Veteran back into battle with warped additions such as crawling bugs, hungry giant ants, and distorted facial features with accompanying pain.

Today, psychiatrists possess a medicine cabinet of improved drugs that don’t send the Veteran back in time to the horrors of war nor make it difficult to distinguish between the present and a disfigured dream world. In fact, new psychiatric medications offer few side effects while short circuiting a rage cycle before even speaking a word or committing an act of aggression. Awesome, indeed.

Miss Molly’s Awesome New Friends

banner dog art

used with permission of www.pleasedrawmydog.com

Last week, Miss Molly and I met new friends in Latvia through a Twitter connection. Please Draw My Dog jumped off my computer screen into my crayon box with promises of a psychedelic high that uplifts and pampers the heart. The Molly Blog Team squealed with joy when we discovered the fanciful artwork the creative Please-Draw-My-Dog Team splashed across its website.

Together, Armands, Zile, and their dog, Olivia, offer drawings of many dog breeds that can be purchased as coloring book pages, prints, stationary, duvet covers, shower curtains, phone cases, throw pillows, and more! This great gift idea ranges in price from $13 for greeting cards to $110 for a duvet cover. How’s that for enterprising? Please Draw My Dog will even draw your dog on commission in the same format for you to color or already filled with colors so bright you will find yourself squinting. Commissioned drawings range in price from $45 for a letter-sized customized coloring page to $260 for an 11.69 x 16.53 inch vibrant color picture of your canine. If you enjoy the adult coloring experience, the website offers free coloring pages of a featured pup each month.

dog-drawing-saint-bernard

used with permission of www.pleasedrawmydog.com

Miss Molly is especially fond of the on-line collection of drawings of the standard dog breeds. While there are just a few breeds already drawn, Armands and Zile just added the Saint Bernard to the collection in honor of Miss Molly, which they gave permission for us to post in Molly’s Blog! In between their commissioned work, they are making progress on adding 143 more standard dog breeds to their collection, which you can access free of charge.

Why so Much Hype?

Our disabled Veterans don’t often receive good news and this is exceedingly positive even if you don’t want to buy. What a great way to brighten the day of a Veteran by coloring a picture of his or her service dog or special canine pet. With all that said, can you imagine how awesome it would be to wake up every morning to a psychedelic picture of Miss Molly or your favorite dog breed on your duvet or pillow?

High Paw

The Miss Molly Team raises a high paw to Armands, Zile, and Olivia of the Please Draw My Dog Team for their artwork that honors our canine companions in the most delightful way. (Miss Molly always wanted to see her name in lights but seeing her mug in color is even better.)

Post your Comments: 

What object would you like to see your dog’s face on? Please reply below. 

Photo credits: www.pleasedrawmydog.com for the dog art; other pictures pculbrethgraft

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.

(165) Extravert, Introvert, and Controvert: All Types of People and Dogs

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Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)

Myers Briggs Type Indicator 

Everyone has a psychological preference that makes up their personality. That preference definition dates back to Carl Jung (1875 to 1961), a psychiatrist influenced by Sigmund Freud. In a brilliant work, Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, constructed a personality inventory test to help people know more about their personality and understand how it affects interaction with others.

The first of the preferences refers to how we build our energy and focus our attention by either turning inward or focusing outward. An introvert recharges their battery, spending time alone by reading or engaging in activities by themselves. An extravert recharges their battery by joining with others in parties or gatherings.

In the book, Life Types, Hirsh and Kummerow offer a brief list of other defining characteristics that show the differences between the two preference types (Hirsh, 21):

  Extravert Introvert
External Internal
Outside thrust Inside pull
Blurt it out Keep it in
Breadth Depth
Work more with people and things Work more with idea and thoughts
Interaction Concentration
Action Reflection
Do-think-do Think-do-think

You might wonder where the controvert fits in. Admittedly, I made it up after several days of researching the need for connectedness in today’s world and how isolation can harm people. Controvert refers to an individual, who raises arguments against or voices opposition. When ignoring the need to be connected with others or when failing to recharge our energy, one becomes moody, detached, and negative.

As an introvert, I enjoy being by myself and enjoy solitary activities such as swimming, writing, painting, and sewing. My husband, more of an extravert, loved attending concerts, playing team sports, and parties. As we age and with his PTSD, we are becoming more isolated and disconnected, bordering controver-sion—a dangerous place to be. So, today, we went out for lunch. William wore his new ball cap that announced to the world he is a Vietnam Veteran (–just like an extravert). A recently retired Afghanistan/Iraq Veteran approached William to thank him for his service. Although the interaction was brief, it made my husband’s day and sent him home energized. For me, I stumbled through my Spanish to talk with the workers at Chipotle’s for lunch. Overjoyed that a customer attempted their language, they sent me home with a paper bag written in Spanish for me to read later that night—now I’m recharging and connected.

Why is this Useful? 

For years, I used the Myers Briggs test instrument with my grad students and employees. It helped people work together by showing them their strengths and weaknesses and how to communicate with the 16 different styles. While the original test boasts over 200 questions with a difficult scoring system, there are a number of simpler versions, including a free on-line version at https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test. There are a number of books that interpret the test results and share in easy-to-understand terms what they mean. The Hirsh and Kummerow book I referenced above covers how to live, learn, labor, lead, have fun, and love with your particular style. It also offers advice on how to relate to others with different styles in each of those categories.

This is an awesome resource that promises insightful self-help with humor and answers many questions about how to deal with difficult people in your life.

If you already know your style or have used the instrument before, then all you have to do is focus on connectivity and avoid the controversion complex.

Is there a Personality Test for Dogs? 

While I found several tests for canines, I did not find one to determine if Molly is an extravert, introvert, or controvert. Since she hasn’t bitten anyone, I can rule out the controvert. As for extravert or introvert, here is my contribution to the dog whisperer profession.

An Extraverted Dog

An Introverted Dog

Jumps in a pool with other dogs Scratches
Gives slobbering kisses to everyone Licks herself
Barking Whining
Sniffs indiscriminately Sniffs own body parts
Spends free time hanging out at dog parks Spends free time sleeping in the closet
Chases cars Sleeps in closet
Plays with a Frisbee Plays with a bone, sleeps in closet
Barks at bear, reconsiders, barks at bear Sizes up bear, barks, puts tail between legs and hides

Oh, yeah, she’s definitely an introvert. That explains why she asked me about yoga lessons

Notes:

There is no right or wrong personality profile. Each of the characteristics is descriptive and not intended to be judgmental.

To find a book that interprets and explains test results, go to amazon.com, select books, enter “myers briggs personality test.” You will see titles such as What Type Am I?, Gifts Differing, Please Understand Me, Essentials of Myers-Briggs. An informative website on the test instrument is: http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/.

Post your Comments: 

Have you ever taken the Myers Briggs instrument? If you described your service dog or pet by one of the indicator types, what would it be? Please reply below.

Photo credits: pculbrethgraft

Source cited:

  • Hirsh, Sandra and Jean Kummerow. LifeTypes. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1989.

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 grandchildren.

(164) Greyhound Bus or Greyhound Dog–Which One Loves the Veteran?

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Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)


The Foibles of Greyhound 

Earlier this month, the DOJ (Department of Justice) announced it entered into a consent decree with Greyhound Lines, Inc., the largest provider of intercity bus transportation services in the US to correct violations of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Acts). Apparently, the DOJ received complaints about the bus line that it denied access to individuals using wheelchairs and the disabled with service dogs.

The consent decree stated that Greyhound will make reforms, including adding wheelchair lifts, changing its policy to require assisting customers with disabilities, employee training, implementation of a system that allows those with disabilities to make reservations just like the general public, and making accommodations for those with disabilities when transferring to other bus lines on a continuous trip. Additionally, Greyhound will pay $75,000 in civil penalty to the US and compensate an open-ended number of passengers, who experienced disability discrimination during the three years prior to the consent decree. An additional sum of $300,000 will be paid to certain passengers identified by the DOJ, who were discriminated against because of their disability.

That’s a whole lot of love to go around to those with disabilities, who were discriminated against including Veterans!

Apparently, the DOJ feels the love, too, remarking, “Today’s agreement marks a major step toward fulfilling the promise of the ADA, and we applaud Greyhound for entering the consent decree.” 

Unusual Service Dogs 

William and I met a young Veteran at the VA with a pit bull for a service dog. The high-spirited animal behaved perfectly despite the dog’s high energy and desire to lick everyone nearby. The dog offered much more than help with the young man’s TBI. This service animal steadied his Veteran and assisted the Veteran in managing his PTSD. While a pit bull seemed an unlikely service dog, the Veteran assured me the dog aced his 18-month training period.

Although fooled by the high-performing pit bull, I expected the greyhound would not make the list of likely service animals. In doing a bit of research, I found an unusual pairing of the National Greyhound Foundation with the Inmate Prison Partnership that matches a prisoner with a retiring racing greyhound to train the dog as a service animal. The sponsoring website of the Purple Heart Greyhound Service Dogs features a number of well-trained greyhounds and shares the stories of Veterans and their greyhound service animals. The site states that greyhounds make excellent service animals for PTSD given their temperament and physical characteristics.

Viewing the faces of the Veterans and their service dogs, one clearly sees the love the greyhounds hold for their Veterans.

The Verdict 

To answer the question of which loves the Veteran, Greyhound Lines or the Greyhound service dog, Molly declares a clear winner as the Greyhound service dog.

Post your Comments:

Have you ever had problems taking public transportation with your service animal? Please reply below. 

Sources cited:

  • US Department of Justice Weekly Digest Bulletin dated February 14, 2016.
  • US v. Greyhound Lines, Inc. Consent Decree dated February 10, 2016, Civil Action No. 16-67-RGA.

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 grandchildren.

 

(163) Cranium and Body Slams: Polytrauma System of Care

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Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)


Dog Physics

Molly with headache

Got aspirin?

Molly careens around the banister, sliding into a bookcase. She shakes it off but loses traction and falls on her bottom still in motion. Bashing her side into a wall, she stops and jumps to her feet. In a forward motion, she leaps and retracts her paws. This time, her slide leaves her in victory at the front door without a collision. While she is thick-headed and tough-skulled, she’s learned to manage her slide to avoid further injury. In her case, she recovers from navigation errors and shakes them off.  Over the years, she has learned speed control, how to gage distance, and how to mitigate damage—all excellent lessons in physics for a dog.

People Physics

While fitted with a substantial cranium, the human brain cannot withstand the bashing, beating, and impacts that Molly does every time she takes flight across the wood floors. The human brain offers redundancy and amazing healing properties. The human head, however, cannot withstand repeated blows or the impact of even one IED (incendiary explosive device) without repercussion.

Throughout history, each war has extracted its unique toll from American warriors. For those fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) deprives the warrior of cognitive functions and causes severe headaches, hearing and loss of sight, sleep deprivation, and often debilitating balance that affects one’s ability to walk. Other impacts from these wars include the loss of limbs and post-war trauma such as PTSD. While any one impact is more than a warrior deserves, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans find themselves pushed beyond the limits that any body should endure.

Polytrauma Care

The word ‘polytrauma’ does not exist—at least it is not in the dictionary. That is how it was for the phrase ‘post-traumatic stress disorder’ until warriors returned home with the condition and it was diagnosed decades later. The VA, however, created a Polytrauma System of Care (PSC) in 2005 and has screened over one million Veterans for the impacts of TBI and other war-related conditions.

“PSC provides comprehensive and coordinated rehabilitative care to Veterans with life-changing injuries, including TBI, limb loss, blindness, hearing loss and tinnitus, among others.” VA New Release on February 5, 2016

Our military has learned since Vietnam and provided in-theatre medical support to help those with life-threatening injuries until better care is available. Our warriors are surviving conditions that would have been terminal in previous conflicts. “Today they not only survive, they thrive, in large part due to PSC, a thoroughly Veteran-centric VA program,” stated the press release.

Over 110 VA facilities offer polytrauma care in the US, including five Polytrauma Rehab Centers that offer comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation. Additionally, 23 sites offer comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation along with 87 clinic teams. Collectively, these facilities and programs offer “interdisciplinary evaluation and treatment, development of a comprehensive plan of care, case management, patient and family education and training, psychosocial support, and use of advanced rehabilitation treatments and prosthetic technologies.”

Don’t Be a Knucklehead—Get Help

Please do not be like Molly and keep knocking your head around banisters, walls, and bookcases. Help is available and the VA is extending an invitation to the Veteran in need. To begin your recovery, you or a family member can contact the VA Crisis Helpline at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1) or go on-line to www.polytrauma.va.gov/.

Molly’s Brain

After Molly tangled with a kitchen chair, I sent her outside. Within minutes, I noticed feathers sticking out of her mouth. I made her cough up the bird she managed to catch. She’s progressed from knucklehead to bird brain.

Post your Comments: 

In what other ways are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan different from previous wars? Please reply below. 

Photo credits: pculbrethgraft

Source cited:

  • Veterans Affairs (US Department of Veteran Affairs). “VA’s Polytrauma System of Care Marks One Million TBI Screenings.” VA News Release on February 5, 2016.

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.

(159) Robodog: The Ultimate Service Animal

Miss Molly profile

Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)

Molly and I are late in coming to the party. We missed BigDog, the 240-pound military service dog that is as high tech as the Apple iphone. Apparently, she made her world début in the early 2000s as a work-in-progress by Boston Dynamics whiz kids. 

BigDog is a four-legged robot that can maneuver rough terrain, run for hours at a time, carry its own fuel and equipment, and even roll over. Once thought to be a dog that could provide vital assistance to the US military, this robotic dog returns to scrap metal. As it turns out, she is so noisy that she makes it difficult for troops to sneak up on the enemy.

Despite the military’s plan to tank the dog, likely BigDog will remain the pet project of Boston Dynamics because of its promise. As it turns out, BigDog is touted as being the most advanced rough-terrain robot on the planet. She runs 4 mph; climbs slopes up to 35 degrees; walks through mud, water, and on hillsides; comes with shock absorbers; and can carry a payload of 340 pounds.

Videos of the project through its development are available here and across the internet. Why wouldn’t they be? This project is freaky scientific like something out of Star Wars.

In the original planning paper, the BigDog team said the robotic dog will “travel in cities and in our homes, doing chores and providing care where steps, stairways and household clutter limit the utility of wheeled vehicles.” Sounds like a service dog!

Miss Molly considered going to the Canine Critter Union to complain about BigDog but decided not to pursue the matter when the military cancelled the project earlier this month. Molly’s letter of appeal to the Union to decertify BigDog as a service dog contained the following:

“BigDog doesn’t have a tail or even ears. Sure she can carry a big payload but I can, too—in a keg around my neck. She’s received millions of taxpayers’ dollars in training and still can’t fetch a stick. You can’t tell which is her front end and which is her back. She is extraordinarily ugly without any fur and she buzzes instead of barks. She cannot predict a seizure, a panic attack, or wake her owner from a nightmare. She pollutes the air and is even more costly to feed than a Saint Bernard. Overall, I think BigDog belongs in a logo on a sweatshirt rather than on a poster as a war hero.”

Miss Molly on her backMiss Molly has been roughed up over this news story. She has calmed down and is back to her big loveable self. I think her criticism has merit, however, as I can’t imagine Robodog crawling into bed at night with my Veteran.

Post your Comments: 

Do you think a robotic dog could ever replace your service dog? Please reply below. 

Photo credits: pculbrethgraft

Sources cited:

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.