In just a few short weeks, Charlie Mike turns one. Our first anniversary will be on Veteran’s Day, November 11th, 2023. In our first year, we’ve had some truly amazing experiences and met some really great people. These experiences reinforce the importance of the work that we do. And also, the power of our mission to rescue dogs and help military veterans experiencing and living with the unseen wounds of combat. Our Canine Battle Buddy Program is our core service to help military veterans.
One of these memorable experiences was in rescuing Harley, a German Shepard who had been abandoned for over four months, and meeting Ray, an Army Veteran with multiple combat tours and many years of service. Ray is still fighting his own battles. Harley was in such bad shape that at one point, it was recommended that we consider euthanasia to ease his potential suffering. Their journey of growth and mutual healing is the inspiration that fuels our mission every single day.
We learned about Harley from a local friend who also runs a dog rescue. Her dog rescue is Singing Dog Farm, which is a rescue for huskies and wolf hybrids. A friend of hers rescued Harley after learning he had been abandoned for over four months. Harley was living in an apartment alone, and was not fed or even checked on every day.
Harley is a large and tall German Shepard; he’s a big dog. He was about 40 pounds underweight (weighing just over 50 pounds), significantly malnourished, extremely thin, developed a pancreas deficiency, a possible gall bladder issue, and had significant anxiety. After several months of care and all our efforts at rehabilitation we could only get Harley to gain around 7-8 pounds, and no matter how much food or supplements we gave him he was not gaining weight. Our concern was echoed by the veterinarian, and at one point, it was suggested that we may have to consider euthanasia so that Harley would not suffer and continue to deteriorate. No one wanted that outcome, so we kept working.
Then, just at the right time, we met Ray. Ray is an Army Veteran with 16 years of service. He was an Airborne Military Police (MP) at the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Ray was medically retired several years ago because of injuries and medical difficulties. These difficulties are the result of multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. And like so many other Veterans with similar stories and experiences, for Ray, life just hasn’t quite been the same.
We met Ray at an MP reunion at Ft. Bragg, after being invited to set up a booth to share our mission. At our booth, we took a couple of dogs to represent our Canine Battle Buddy program. We took a couple of dogs that were available for adoption at that time. Harley was one of those dogs.
To keep a long story short, Ray met Harley, and Harley met Ray… It’s probably safe to say that we all knew in that moment, this Battle Buddy Team was meant to be… We can definitely ask the question: who rescued who?
We’ll let Ray share his words to finish up this Battle Buddy story:
“I am a combat veteran who, like many, comes home and doesn’t realize they are broken and injured, unsure where or how to ask for help. I lost a little over six years of my life trying to battle quietly and am slowly trying but putting the pieces back together. [Charlie Mike has] a motto, “Save a Dog, Save a Veteran.” I’m not really sure who saved who, but I believe this organization and Harley saved a Veteran.
What [Charlie Mike] provided is undeniably one of the most valuable parts of healing, and that is the unconditional love and that comes from my battle buddy Harley and the entire organization. Charlie Mike provides… a companion that goes through their screening and training process, and also incredible support after the placement. In my case, the final result is a dog named Harley, and a team of friends that has made a difference to help continue my mission of life, and healing process.”