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A July 4th Salute to Red Cross Patriotic Pups

The strength of the American Red Cross lies in its 500,000 volunteers. On this July 4th, let’s thank some volunteers who are often forgotten: the four-legged, wet-nosed, slobbery-kissing, tail-wagging, fire-hydrant-desecrating patriotic pups who volunteer with our Service to the Armed Forces department!

Toby as Uncle Sam

Landstuhl Red Cross Human & Canine Volunteers

American Red Cross workers are stationed at more than 50 military installations, many of which are overseas. At the Landstuhl Regional Military Medical Center (LRMC) in Germany, the 22 dogs (including Toby, pictured above) in the Red Cross’ Pets and Warriors (PAWs) pet visitation program have an important job as “fur-apists” for service members who have been injured while deployed. The dogs and their human handlers also support service members and their families stationed in Germany, as well as the staff members who have the stressful job of healing our recently wounded warriors.

“Imagine being in a war zone for six months, getting injured, and suddenly finding yourself in Germany — hours away from your team, and even farther away from your family and friends back home, ” American Red Cross Landstuhl station manager Leah Barber explains. “A lot of the patients here may not be comfortable talking to a staff member, or they may have a dog back home that they miss, or they’re in a place where they’re more comfortable interacting with an animal, who doesn’t judge and is there just to bring happiness. In our closed ward, the patients will play fetch with the dogs, play with them, and just hold them. On the inpatient wards, the dogs and handlers are sometimes the first non-staff members to visit, and having a friendly doggy face can really make a long, difficult hospital stay a little easier to bear.”

Maverick and his human Kristin

One soldier at Landstuhl RMC did not have the motivation to recover after his devastating combat injuries. Then, he met Maverick (pictured here), one of the PAWs dog volunteers. Every time Maverick came to visit, the soldier promised that he would be able to play fetch with him someday, and this became his goal. After months of hard work, the soldier took Maverick outside for their first game of fetch. Neither of them had ever smiled like they did that day.

Send your thanks to Maverick using #ThanksLandstuhlMaverick!

 

These dogs volunteer at many events at Landstuhl RMC, like a July 4th American Red Cross and Wounded Warrior Project celebration held at the USO Warrior Center they had earlier today for service members, patients and staff. The patriotic pup Red Cross volunteers, along with some of Landstuhl’s 400 Red Cross human volunteers, reminded our service members they are cared for and not forgotten on the birthday of the country for which they sacrifice. Here are some pictures hot off the press from the event in Landstuhl today:

These patriotic pups love celebrating holidays! Look how festive they are!

Dixie's Graduation

Dixie shows how patriotic pups volunteer here at home. Dixie’s human, Sandie Schlett, found Dixie abandoned on a Mississippi roadside. The two immediately clicked and adopted each other. After addressing Dixie’s many health issues, Sandie began bringing the sweet-natured pup along to volunteer for the Red Cross office on Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi. Dixie started by going to Red Cross pre-deployment briefings for service members, reminding them that they are loved and appreciated for their sacrifice. Dixie had such a gift that her human signed her up for training that will enable her to start visiting the VA Hospital and Keesler Military Medical Facility, and she just graduated! Send your congratulations using #CongratsDixieDog!

Red Cross patriotic pups volunteer at some chapters, domestic military installations, and other overseas military installations, including those in war zones. Contact your local Red Cross, and ask to speak to the Service to the Armed Forces department, to see how you can volunteer. (Previous post: Top 6 Reasons to Volunteer at a VA or Military Hospital) Depending on the needs of your location, you and your patriotic pup might be able to take after Maverick, Dixie and their humans!

American Red Cross workers across the world work long days supporting military members and families, responding to disasters, preparing families for emergencies, and securing one-third of the nation’s blood supply. Thank you to our patriotic pups who are there waiting for us when we come home!

Santa Barbara-based Red Crosser Kristiana Almeida comes home to her patriotic pup, Moose.
Santa Barbara-based Red Crosser Kristiana Almeida comes home to her patriotic pup, Moose.

Tell us about and/or show us your #PatrioticPups! Comment here or Tweet @RedCross.