Great people doing great things

Published 1:02 am Friday, July 10, 2015

By Leonard Rizzo

A few weeks ago, I told the tale of Boomerang, the little yellow lab that is now being fostered and trained with Danielle Scruggs and her magnificent goldens for the SAP program. I jokingly told Danielle that Boomer was a shorthaired golden and now that she is thoroughly smitten by the pup, she readily agrees. At that time Danielle offered a prize golden pup for the Service Animal Project whenever needed.

Unbeknownst to Mary Ann, Linda and Ann, the three great ladies who run the SAP program, I had already received a commitment from Dr. Joe Picone to offer a prize Shepherd puppy to the program. Joe’s Frontline Shepherds are quite valuable and are a perfect breed to be a soldier’s companion. A soldier suffering from PTSD along with survivor’s guilt had already been chosen but the female who was chosen to pick a pup from failed to conceive.

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Now, in Atlanta there is a great lady who is probably one of the most knowledgeable breeder and trainer of Frontline Shepherds alive. Nadia pretty much lives and breathes German Shepherds and is Dr. Joe Picone’s mentor in this field.

We needed help and I could use Lennie’s Fund as a conduit if monies needed to change hands. Nadia had a nine-month-old female that would be perfect for our soldier and Joe gladly went to pick her up. I learned some time later that the soldier has a little boy, a fact that moved me all the more.

The SAP women were about to meet some of the pups from the last litter, along with Joe and his lovely wife, Kathy. When we arrived there, Joe was doing some extra training along with Clifford and Cadence his new companion, who is now one year old. The sight brought tears to my eyes and I whispered a prayer of gratitude to Him who makes all things possible.

The pups are beginning to change color (they are born all black) and were delightful. The women and I allowed them all to attack us for affection. As heartwarming as all that was all I can remember from the visit is time spent with Clifford and Cadence. To see Cadence, glued to our soldier’s leg, looking up at him with love in her eyes, awaiting his next command, stirred me to my bones.

I thanked Clifford so much and expressed my appreciation so deeply for his service that I think I was beginning to embarrass him. I asked permission to greet Cadence and Clifford; he smiled and answered, “Certainly Sir.”

Joe had told Clifford who I was and it humbled me to have this hero look up to me. I approached Cadence (palms up) and scratched her beneath her chin. I then worked my way around for a soft ear rub as I gently gave her the customary Uncle Lennie kiss between her eyes. I then whispered in her ear the same thing I’ve been telling her soldier. “Thank you, too, Cadence, for your service.”

Thanks for listening.


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