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Warrior Canine Connection Newsletter - February 2015

The Gratitude Litter, born Thanksgiving Day 2014
Meet the Gratitude Litter
Thanksgiving Day 2014 was especially meaningful at Warrior Canine Connection, as nine puppies were born at our Brookeville, MD Healing Quarters. In keeping with the tradition that began with the Honor and Valor Litters, puppies in the Gratitude Litter were named for Service Members and Veterans who have made significant contributions to our nation -- in many cases, making the ultimate sacrifice.

You can
read about the litter members and the individuals they are named after in the "Dog Bless You" blog. You can also follow the training, socialization and adventures of the Gratitude Litter on their Facebook page.
Meet the WCC Service Dog Training Instructors 

The success of the WCC therapeutic service dog training program is dependent upon WCC's dedicated instructors at all of our program locations. These staff members work with Service Members and Veterans at the Brookeville HQ, DOD Medical Centers in the Washington D.C. area, and in VA Palo Alto Health Care System facilities in California. Our Service Dog Training Instructors implement WCC's training curriculum, provide client training and services to Veterans, conduct Puppy Parent classes, oversee dog and puppy field trips, and so much more.

We would like to introduce you to this dedicated group of people, who give so much to Warrior Canine Connection and those we serve, and let them tell you, in their own words, why they do what they do. 
Cheryl Tipton
Puppy Program Manager
Puppy Enrichment Center, Brookeville, MD

Cheryl Bingham is the Puppy Program Manager in the Puppy Enrichment Center in Brookeville, MD, where she oversees all aspects of puppy training and supports Puppy Parents in the puppy raising program.

"The best thing about my job as Puppy Program Manager is getting to see the process from the very beginning, up to the magnificent pairing of Veteran and trained service dog. Nothing compares to the close bonds between the dogs and their Puppy Parent, and then with their partner for life."
Danielle Young
Service Dog Training Instructor
Puppy Enrichment Center, Brookeville, MD

Danielle Young works in the Puppy Enrichment Center in Brookeville, MD, where she holds the dual roles of training instructor and Client Services liaison. She works with WCC dogs during all aspects of their training, and also works with Veterans who apply to receive a service dog via the WCC placement program.

"One of the best parts of my job is watching the miraculous effect that our dogs' simple presence has on the Veterans we serve. I love watching Veterans transform from anxious, closed-off individuals into loving, relaxed, interactive dog lovers!" 
Thomae Jones, LCSW
Clinical Service Dog Training Instructor
National Intrepid Center of Excellence

Social worker and Veteran Thomae Jones is part of the WCC team at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), where he utilizes his experience, education and love for dogs to assist Warriors as they address symptoms of post-traumatic stress (PTS) and mild traumatic brain injury (TBI).

"Becoming a service dog training instructor has become a defining point in my life. We often join the helping profession motivated by a genuine desire to serve others. Through our efforts to exercise compassion, however, we are changed as well. It has been an unexpected but immensely rewarding result of working alongside our canine companions to enrich the lives of our wounded Warriors and their families."
Allison Proctor, MSW
Clinical Service Dog Training Instructor
National Intrepid Center of Excellence

Allison Proctor also works in the WCC office at NICoE, where she conducts service dog training sessions with Warriors being treated for PTS and mild TBI.

"The thing I like most about my job is that these dogs are imprinting a tangible healing experience on the lives of countless people. I have the privilege of observing that healing every day." 

Ellen Fisher
Service Dog Training Instructor
Menlo Park and Palo Alto VA

Ellen Fisher works at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in both Menlo Park and Palo Alto where she instructs recovering Warriors in therapeutic service dog training. Ellen also leads classes and supports the Puppy Parent program.

"I think the best thing about my job is witnessing how Warriors experience the parallels between service dog training and their own personal lives. It's exciting to see all of the positive implications."
Tim O'Boyle
Service Dog Training Instructor Intern
Puppy Enrichment Center, Brookeville, MD

Tim O'Boyle, a Fellow with The Mission Continues, works in the Puppy Enrichment Center. He assists in training puppies and adult dogs who are in the process of evaluation and advanced placement.

"This is the best job in the world, working with Veterans and dogs. It is amazing to see a Veteran have moments of peace that only a dog can bring."

Jake Young
Service Dog Training Instructor Intern
Puppy Enrichment Center, Brookeville, MD

Jake Young works in the Puppy Enrichment Center, where he is involved in all aspects of dog training, from puppies to adult dogs that are being evaluated for advanced training and placement.

"I get the personal benefit of working with these dogs, and enjoy the knowledge that I can help another Warrior and their family. I know, first hand, how these dogs change lives, and hope to pass that knowledge on to others."


News Roundup

The following stories are just a sampling of the media coverage Warrior Canine Connection has received in recent months:

Veterans' Therapy Goes to the Dogs," Jacqueline Alemany, CBS News

"The Healing Power of Dogs," Elizabeth M. Collins, Soldiers Magazine

"Puppies at Warrior Canine Connection More Than Just a Cute Face," Margaret Hasken, WNEW CBS Local


WCC West Coast Program Director Cate Dorr was recently recognized as a recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service in the end-of-year ceremony hosted by KPIX-TV. She and Luke were also guests of dedicated WCC supporter Lynn Marie at the annual San Francisco Giants Foundation and SF Guardsmen fundraiser in San Francisco. Luke's namesake, Marine 1stSgt Luke Mercadente was honored during the opening ceremonies.

Pictured in the photo, left to right, are Cate Dorr, WCC's Luke, and Hillary Schafer, executive director of the Jefferson Award Foundation.

Photo by Ashley Neal, copyright KPIX/CBS.
Volunteer Spotlight: Julie Hansen

Julie Hansen volunteers her time, creativity and humor to Warrior Canine Connection. If you are part of the "EPW" (extreme puppy watcher) Facebook group, you will have seen many of her funny glimpses into everyday life at Brookeville's Puppy Enrichment Center -- typically in the form of a photo, along with imagined dialogue between the dogs.

Julie also serves as one of the administrators for several Facebook groups, and has created flyers for events and fundraisers. Her "can-do" spirit is greatly valued by everyone on staff. Why does she do it?

“It was an evolution, of sorts. A former co-worker sent me the link for the Explore puppy cam and of course, I got sucked in. Then, I found WCC on Facebook. Because my paying job involves graphics and social media, I started posting captioned photos. It was right about then that the EPW group was forming, and I was asked to help administrate...everything snowballed from there. 
“What cemented my involvement, though, was helping plan the “Pawty” in the Summer of 2013, completely online. Then I traveled to Maryland, met so many supporters of the organization, and saw, first-hand, the magic that is in Brookeville. 
“I think it’s safe to say that I truly am one who 'came for the puppies, but stayed for the mission.'”

Thank you, Julie, for always being there when we need you, and always making us laugh!

Warrior Canine Connection was invited to represent the non-profit charities that participated in Northern California's Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) during 2014. In all, Northern California Region Federal employees raised more than $3 million for participating non-profits, which included WCC. Pictured at the check presentation ceremony at Beale AFB is WCC West Coast Program Director Cate Dorr (bottom right) and WCC's Sandy, who is being held by Major Vega.
We are thrilled to announce that WCC has been selected as the first recipient of HuggleHounds' new company initiative called "Hugs for Heroes." Through this campaign, a percentage of sales for the best-selling "Knottie Moose" (pictured above) will be donated to Warrior Canine Connection during 2015. Knottie Moose can be purchased through a number of online and local retailers. A complete list can be found by visiting the HuggleHounds website.
Donate Today!!

WCC is honored to have been selected to participate in the George W. Bush Institute's Military Service Initiative (MSI) research study to identify measures of impact and effectiveness of non-profits serving Veterans and their families. 

WCC Executive Director Rick Yount, Chief Medical Officer CAPT Robert Koffman, and Chief of Operations Patty Kennedy were accompanied by WCC dog Ron to the MSI Summit at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. 

Puppy Parents Provide a Glimpse of Life and Work with WCC Dogs

The vital role of a Warrior Canine Connection Puppy Parent is the focus of two media profiles -- one on each coast of the United States. On the West Coast, Northern California's Laurie Higuera talks with "Today's World" about her life with WCC's Luke, a member of the Honor Litter who works at the VA Menlo Park Welcome Center. You can listen to the interview here.

In Maryland, the Montgomery County Council created a video about Puppy Parent Linda Schaus and 10-month-old Donnie from the Valor Litter. As a Montgomery County high school teacher, Linda paved the way for service dogs in training in the county's schools. Donnie accompanies Linda to school each day and enhances the classroom experience of her students while educating them about the needs of wounded Warriors.  You can see the video here.

Warrior Canine Connection is always looking for loving, committed Puppy Parents. If you would like to know more about the program, and to access our Puppy Parent application, visit our website.

KOIT Radio's Brent Carey and Teri King pose with Luke at the KOIT studio in San Francisco.
Welcome Our New Staff Members

Warrior Canine Connection is growing! Please join us as we welcome these additions to our staff:

Thomae Jones, LCSW, Clinical Service Dog Training Instructor

Thomae Jones is part of the WCC team at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence. He  is a former U.S. Army veterinary technician, focusing on the medical health and welfare of military working dogs. He was also commissioned as a Behavioral Health Officer while on active duty. After his retirement from the army, Thomae briefly worked for the Veterans Administration as a readjustment counselor for combat Veterans, but decided shortly after decided to pursue his true passion with WCC. He holds a BA in Educational Psychology from Northeast Louisiana University and attended the U.S. Army’s School of Social Work at Fort Sam Houston, TX.

Ellen Fisher, Service Dog Training Instructor

Ellen Fisher joins WCC at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Menlo Park, CA, where she will work with Veterans and patients in a number of programs. A former Humane Education Coordinator at an Oakland, CA animal shelter, Ellen has an Associate of Science degree in Assistance Dog Education. She is currently enrolled in the Academy for Dog Trainers, a world-renowned, scientific-based applied dog behavior program.

Tim O'Boyle, Service Dog Training Instructor Intern

Tim O'Boyle is a Fellow with The Mission Continues, which helps Veterans find new career missions in non-profit organizations. Tim works with WCC at the Puppy Enrichment Center in Brookeville, MD, where he assists in training puppies, participates in Puppy Parent classes, and works with adult dogs who are going though evaluation and advanced placement.

Jake Young, Service Dog Training Instructor Intern

Jake Young is a Semper Fi Fund Program Intern who also works in the WCC Puppy Enrichment Center. Jake works in a number of different areas, including training puppies and conducting classes for Puppy Parents. He works with adult dogs who are in advanced training and under evaluation for placement, and is assisting with interviewing Veterans as part of the placement process.

The Northern California Chapter of the American Gold Star Mothers recently visited the WCC program at the Menlo Park VA Welcome Center. Chapter President Karen Meredith poses with our pack and the gift of paracord collars made by the chapter for Luke, Cavit, Bea and Sandy. Thank you, Gold Star Mothers!!
Menlo Park Anniversary Celebration

Mark your calendar for Saturday, April 25 and join us as we celebrate our two-year anniversary in our Menlo Park, CA program location! The festivities will run from 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Warrior Canine Connection is a pioneering organization that utilizes clinically based Canine Connection Therapy to help wounded Warriors reconnect with life, their families, their communities, and each other.

Warrior Canine Connection is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization. Visit us on the web at

Combined Federal Campaign #94624
Maryland Charity Campaign #4237
Copyright © 2015 Warrior Canine Connection, All rights reserved.

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