Veterans Moving Forward provides veterans with therapy and service dogs and amongst the puppies they are raising to help veterans cope with various injuries is an assistance dog in training that is near and dear to our hearts. His name is Nathan, in honor of Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal.
Over the next few weeks, Compass will be sharing Nathan’s journey from birth, through his puppy “years” and into his final stages of training in our series “Life of a service dog.” We hope you enjoy Nathan’s story as he goes from a clumsy puppy to a focused service animal ready to serve our nation’s veterans.
Written by assistance dog in training Nathan with help from his human handler, Cyndi Perry.
Last time we met, I told you about where I was born and how I found myself at my new home with my human and her “pack.” A lot of my time is spent traveling to new places and be exposed to new sites and sounds.
Well, one of the first places I was able to travel to was our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. It was amazing to view the city from my puppy perspective as I got to see so many shiny monuments and buildings. I even got to visit one of the most important buildings in our country, the U.S. Capitol. I was in awe of the building as it symbolizes the great nation our service members protect and defend.
We took the metro train to Capitol Hill, which rocked me to sleep. The security guards in the building were great. The smiled at me and let me walk through this frame – later I was told it was a metal detector – all by myself and wait for them to tell me I was ok. Of course I knew I was ok!
My trip to Capitol Hill was to meet Congressman Walter Jones. He has been working to educate others about what service dogs can do for wounded warriors, allowing service dogs from Iraq and Afghanistan to return home with their handlers, creating a memorial to military service dogs and supporting the effort allowing the Department of Veterans Affairs to assist veterans with the costs of service dogs, not just guide dogs.
While I was just a puppy during my visit, it makes me happy to know others realize how important it is to support our veterans. Whenever I think of the service and sacrifice of all veterans, I am reminded of who I was named after, Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal.
The congressman was very nice to me and he even let me lay on his special North Carolina rug. He had to run – something about a “vote” – so we sat in his office with some of his staff. The staff really liked me and I liked them. After a while I got a little bored so I took out a book on politics to read.
Congressman Jones came back and we talked and he held and cradled me. I have since been invited back several times to spend time on the Hill. Once he even showed me a letter written by Petty Officer Bruckenthal’s father. It was so exciting because I had no idea about who Nate’s father was. I could detect his scent on the letter and it was a comforting scent.
Being in our nation’s capitol, meeting those who support veterans and the scent of Nathan’s father inspired me. I knew I had to study hard, learn a lot and practice being a good service dog so I could help a wounded soldier someday.
Check back soon as I share a story about my trip to the Big Apple!