Going Forward with bulldogs; Friends join hands – and paws – to help a veteran
A local English bulldog breeder has joined hands with the non-profit organization PayItForward to give an English bulldog puppy to a Minnesota veteran to serve as a companion or service dog.
Leah Dulaney of Lonely Acres Bulldogs, located north of Austin, said she was “saddened to see soldiers returning home” with emotional or physical challenges – or both.
“Every day, I spend days with my bulldogs and I know what they can do for us emotionally,” she said. Recent research shows that the breed may also make a good service dog.
“I wanted to do something for our veterans – and I had a good example to follow” as a volunteer for PayItForward, Dulaney said.
Her friends, Gina and Todd Grundmeier of T ‘N G Plumbing of Dexter, spearheaded the establishment of PayItForward, a non-profit organization largely known for its donation of time, money and labor to room renovations for deserving recipients. The organization draws together volunteers and businesses to support the project with expertise, labor and discounted or donated products. Dulaney has provided volunteer help since the beginning of the remodels.
When the Grundmeiers heard of her idea, they quickly came on board. PayItForward is receiving nominations until Oct. 31 for the veteran judged most deserving of the companion. Veterans from all branches of the armed forces are eligible to apply.
The veteran will not only receive the dog, but a trained dog to boot. The puppy will be chosen and trained by Melissa Moorman, a behavior specialist and certified dog trainer. The puppy is expected to be delivered sometime between Nov. 12 and Nov. 21.
“The bulldogs make great companions,” said Dulaney, adding they are good-natured and are caring of their owner. She has raised the dogs for the past nine years and also served as an animal control officer and on dog rescues.
There is more support for the project, Dulaney said, that includes help with veterinary, fencing, food and supplies costs.
“We don’t want those items to become a burden to the veteran,” Dulaney said.
Rolling Green Fencing of Austin will install and donate a fence perimeter of up to 200 feet to the veteran if he or she lives within 45 miles of Austin. If they live outside the travel range, the company will donate $600 toward fence installation.
Pay It Forward will donate $500 for care by a veterinarian if the services are offered within the Minnesota Veterans Home area.
Pet food companies and pet supply companies, including Nutrisource of Perham, Minnesota, and Chuck and Don’s Pet Food and Supplies and Double K Specialty, both of Austin, are also donating items, including dog food, treats, a gift card, and a pet bed. Not Your Mama’s Wedding Photography will provide photos of the bulldog and document the presentation to the veteran.
For more on eligibility and requirements for submissions, go to: http://www.payitforwardtng.org/bulldog-veteran-campaign/
Grundmeier said there are hopes the Pay It Forward English Bulldog project will continue every year. PayItForward has been working for five years in Mower County.
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