SERVICE DOGS 4 Service Men will formally present the first of their retired racing greyhound service dogs to a deserving veteran at a ceremony sponsored by the Palm Beach Kennel Club on Friday, May 25, pre-gathering at 10:30 am. This is the first of what will be many donations of these magnificent animals trained by this group of dedicated individuals.
Hero II (Racing name Atascocita Minko) will be presented to Barry Offenberger, retired US Army, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. Barry suffers from Hodgkins Lyphoma and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and will use Hero II to maintain his independence. Hero I (Fleeter Neal) will also be at the ceremony – he is the PR and “ambassadog” for the organization.
This exciting relationship between Service Dogs 4 Service Men and the retired racers began a year ago when President Sara Donedi-Blood approached Barbara Masi, President of the FL SE Coast Chapter of Greyhound Pets of America, with the idea of training select dogs for this mission. Although the retired athletes are frequently referred to as “couch potatoes” after racing, Masi agreed that some dogs are eager to begin a second career and this would be an ideal way for them to be utilized.
Daniel De La Rosa is the trainer for these dogs. De La Rosa is a Karen Pryor certified trainer and the owner of Petropolis Park in Hollywood Florida. His soothing voice and calm demeanour with the greyhounds was one of the reasons Masi became enthusiastic about the program. “Daniel’s dedication to the training of these dogs has been exemplary and the dogs respond so well to his training tactics.” said Masi.
“We are extremely proud and excited to participate with the Service Dogs 4 Servicemen organization. Two very important things to us are greyhounds and veterans, and to put the two together is an incredible thing!” said Theresa Hume, Director of Publicity. We’ve always known that greyhounds are a special and gentle breed and we are so glad that SD4SM is able to integrate them into this wonderful program,” she added.