Veterans’ Day 2017 – Training for Success

Each year on Veterans’ Day, Three Dog Bakery donates 15% of the sales of all TDB branded treats from every outlet to . Established in 2013, FISH is a non profit organization dedicated to helping veterans. To date they have provided 13 veterans with service dogs. The donation made by Three Dog Bakery on Veterans’ Day goes towards supplying a veteran chosen by FISH with a PTSD service dog. In 2014 Three Dog Bakery raised $5,000. They raised $7,500 in 2015 and last year they raised $7,666. Our goal of raising $10,000 this year is ambitious, but it is attainable with a little help from their friends

This Veteran’s Day, for the fourth consecutive year, Three Dog Bakery will again donate 15% of all sales of all Three Dog Bakery branded treats from every outlet to Friends in Service of Heroes (FISH).FISH will then enlist one of the various trainers the work with to locate and train a service dog for a veteran in need. Geralynn Ragan is one of those trainers. Geralynn was nine years old when she discovered her love for dog training. She started training service dogs fifteen years ago and has never looked back. She feels extremely lucky to be able to follow her passion and cherishes every moment she spends training these dogs who are destined to improve a hero’s life.

Geralynn started training service dogs in an innovative manner. When dog owners with a disability would come to her for help in finding a service dog, instead of bringing in a new dog, she would train their own pet dogs to provide the services needed.T his proved successful and she expanded her skills into finding dogs for people in need. She started training service dogs for FISH a year ago and has since trained three of them. She starts by selecting the perfect dog for the job and, while she prefers to use rescued dogs, it is not always possible. Sometimes, she has to get dogs from other sources such as breeders, who donate a puppy, or police dogs that couldn’t quite make it as canine officers. If a rescue doesn’t work out after her training, she places it in a pet home. The lucky family who adopts the service dog school “dropout” will receive a well trained dog.

Currently, Geralynn is training a dog for a father of five children. As she normally does, she has enlisted the entire family to participate in the training. Geralynn uses only positive reinforcement, such as shaping and clicker training. Dogs usually go through a six month to a year training program. While the cost of training a service dog can be over $25,000, Geralynn only receives a modest stipend to cover her expenses. The reward of the service she provides our heroes is payment enough for her. Geralynn also appears on a local TV show biweekly to speak about the importance of service dogs and to encourage people to support them. On these TV appearances she showcases the products of her sponsors and those sponsors are only too happy to donate food, harnesses, and any other need the service dog may have.

Geralynn attends as many of the once-a-month meetings, headed by FISH, as possible. These meetings consist of speakers, some of whom have service dogs, and the heroes who have or need a service dog. The meetings serve to raise awareness and money in order to continue providing service dogs to those whose lives will benefit from them. This year, thanks to the generosity of all those involved, another service dog will enrich the life of a deserving veteran.

If you enjoy Christina’s writing, check her books out! She is the author of “Chester Gigolo: Diary of a Dog Star” and “Insider Training: Chester Gigolo’s Dog Training Secrets Revealed” for which she won the 2016 DWAA Captain Haggerty award for Best Training Book and the 11th Annual National Indie Excellence Award (Animals & Pets). She is also a contributing author to “Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors”. She has written multiple articles which have appeared in various international publications.