Sign In

Caring Canines

December 7, 2020

Add a couple more veterans who can ease their stress a bit thanks to the Canines Assisting Service Heroes program.

David White’s bond with Chief was evident during a ceremony inside the Reidel K9 facility Saturday afternoon, while Edward Heddinger and Gunny were unabashedly sharing affection for all to see.

The CASH program, created by the Delaware-based Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 850 and including partner Reidel K9, provides service dogs to veterans who are amputees, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and/or traumatic brain injury.

Reidel K9 owner Nelson Reidel transferred the leashes and the responsibilities attached to them to veterans Mr. White (United States Army) and Mr. Heddinger (United States Air Force), growing emotional while officially parting with the 2-year-old canines trained through the program.

It was all for the greater good, Mr. Reidel acknowledged in remarks before a gathering of about 30 persons, including Chapter 850 representatives Joe Startt and Raymond Harris.

“I do want to thank all of our veterans,” he said. “I didn’t serve so this is part of me giving back to you guys and I thank you for fighting for our freedom.

“It’s our turn to give back and that’s for all veterans, I really appreciate what you did for us and our country.”

Mr. Heddinger, a Cheswold resident, said Gunny was like a magnet to him when checking out canines who might make a suitable partner.

“I was looking at three dogs and he found me, he came to me, he sat next to me and that right there created the bond as far as I was concerned,” said the 11-year USAF veteran who was deployed to Iraq and Guantanamo Bay Cuba during his military career, and worked as a Delaware Department of Correction officer for 17 years.

The death of correction officer Lt. Steven Floyd during an inmate uprising at James T. Vaughn T. Vaughn Correctional Institution in 2017 “kind of pushed me over the edge,” Mr. Heddinger said, “and Gunny is just a calming, loving dog.”

For Magnolia resident Mr. White, who served 10 years in the 101st Airborne Division (also known as the “Screaming Eagles”), Chief’s arrival into his life will have a significant impact.

‘He’s going to be a great partner and will be able to distract and redirect me from anxiety (that I experience),” he said.

Mr. White had been looking for a service dog, but only found opportunities that came with two- to three-year waiting lists. His wife Emily found Reidel K9, which led to contacting the Chapter 850 organization.

“It’s been great, I’m just overwhelmed, it’s been a long time coming,” Mr. White said.

According to Mrs. White, “Initially I think we were in a bit of disbelief, we were afraid it still wasn’t going to happen, but when we realized it was actually going to happen we became really emotional.”

Mr. Reidel described Chief as “Our goofy dog … but he is a sweet dog.

“Chief always looks for direction. He can get a bit playful but I like his personality, he has a very cheerful personality.”

Gunny, Mr. Reidel said, “is a lover. He can sit there and lay with you all day and not have to get up and move.

“If you don’t mind your face being licked then Gunny is the one for you.”

CASH is set to present two more dogs (Major and Maggie) in 2021. The program is seeking two to three more candidates for train and transfer to veterans in 2022.

The program is in need of foster families for the puppies in the program in conjunction with Reidel K9, Mr. Reidel said.

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Former Victoria man’s diabetic alert dog helps him get back to life

    When Luke Hengen’s diabetes worsened in his early twenties, it stripped him of the outdoor activities where the country kid felt at home. Countless wilderness adventures and years of hard-fought football games took a toll on his body, to the point where he could no longer sense when his blood sugar was too high or […]

    Read more

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more