Meet Mr. Jim!
He was our stubborn, opinionated, sometimes overbearing, moody, BUT exceptionally brilliant neighbor. At first glance he was cold and loud and quite intimidating, but underneath that tough-guy exterior, he had a huge heart full of compassion.
Mr. Jim served in the Vietnam War where he received 3 purple hearts, shrapnel in his leg and back, Agent Orange in his body, and devastating psychological wounds that would never heal. The war did a number on him, tried to break him, but he was tough. He was a Marine! Not only that, a first-class snipper. After Vietnam he served in the Nixon administration as part of HMX1 serving as security for the Presidential Helicopter. He was awarded the Presidential Seal for his exceptional service.
Pretty impressive, huh? Not only that, Mr. Jim KNEW everything, about everything, well at least he thought he did. But I must give him credit, he did know a lot, and taught me a lot, not only about gardening, maintaining a home, politics, and government, but also about the horrific sacrifices people make to serve their country. But I think the best lesson was the one that was unspoken; no matter how tough, how hardened or how broken someone is they cannot resist the unconditional love and healing of a dog.
Mr. Jim passed away in December of 2017, minutes after I had the opportunity to see him, hold his hand and talk to him about seeing Jesus. (I hope he did get to see Jesus!) I miss Mr. Jim. I loved Mr. Jim, and my heart ached for him. He had no peace and no rest in this world. The war broke him; broke his body, his soul, and his mind. It almost took his heart too, but deep down there was still that loving, compassionate, innocent young man who left for war 45 years earlier. That was my Mr. Jim.
Mr. Jim made me laugh, at times shake my head, and so often he humbled my soul. Some of my favorite memories of Mr. Jim was with his dog, Chico. Chico was little 8lb Pug. Picture it, a very large, tough, burly Marine marching in step, head held high carrying a teeny tiny little Pug under his right arm. How can you NOT stop and stare!?!?! I believe that little dog represented that piece of Mr. Jim that was not taken during the war; the piece that so desperately wanted to love and trust unconditionally.
Mr. Jim always had a dog. Right after Vietnam, I don’t think they used the word “therapy dog” or “emotional support dog,” but that’s exactly what those dogs were to him. His dogs were his best friends; and without them, I believe, he would not have lived as long as he did. Those dogs were able to touch that very place in his hardened heart that most humans could not go. I’ve witnessed how dogs can be the ONLY salve that brings relief and joy to the lives of those who have served.
In honor of my friend, Mr. Jim, I am donating one Australian Labradoodle puppy per litter to a military veteran, in hopes that they too will experience the healing salve of a fur-ever friend.
If you know a military vet, or you are one yourself, and you feel a dog would add comfort and joy to his/her life, please fill out an application.
Our 1st recipient of Mr. Jim’s Doodle is Jessica B., a retired military veteran who served active duty in Iraq right after 911. Jessica has desperately wanted a therapy dog to help her continue to serve others.
While waiting for her puppy (Stevie), Jessica has been working with our trainer and our "in-training" therapy dog, Latte. Jessica has often said things like, “just that time with Latte today…I really needed that!”
It has been such an honor and privledge to get to know, and work with Jessica. She is a true hero.
Effie and Phil will be honeymooning towards the end of this summer, bringing us adorable Fall puppies!! Reserve yours today! Only a few spots left.