Around Florida

Danny My Best Friend
By Peggy Rogers with Julia Torres

Serving in the United States Marine Corps contains many challenges and much camaraderie. Moments where you cheer at a fellow Marine’s success, lend a hand during a physical struggle or cry at the birth of your best friend’s infant become shared experiences. Yet, however marvelous life in the armed forces is, a dark side exists that most don’t speak of for different reasons. Perhaps it’s the lack of follow-through on a troop’s filed complaint, an egregious injustice committed on a battle buddy, or fear of retaliation for speaking against a perpetrator.

Regardless, the fact remains that more often than not, negative actions experienced by an individual leave behind emotional scars. How then does an individual cope with wounds once they have completed military service?

Brave and candid Peggy Rogers shares how obtaining a service dog was the best decision she made with her life when she obtained training in Palmetto, Florida this past March with Southeastern Guide Dogs, (SGD). Having unconditional love and loyalty from her new battle buddy, Danny, helped her better handle medical and mental problems. She recalls how…

“Although it had been a long research process to find SGD, the application process was not difficult, nor was it hard to go through a home evaluation to ensure that the responsibility of owning and caring for a service dog who couldn’t hurt itself was met.”

The greatest sunny day in Peggy’s life occurred approximately three weeks later when SGD called to welcome her into the program. Immediately, she shouted with joy and hurried to purchase travel plans from her Pensacola home to Palmetto, Florida (the only cost for the veteran includes travel and incidentals) where, “You stay at their facility which feels like a 5-star hotel.”

Peggy had known that SGD—which is accredited with ADI was, “The right place for me to get my service dog. It had started training at the puppy academy at a very young age, followed by a puppy raiser until about 16 months. Then, they are trained with the trainers—by the way, they are amazing—and are well cared for by the veterinarians on staff who make sure they are healthy.”

While in Palmetto, SGD staff provided Peggy with 11 days of intense training with Danny, a very well-trained service dog who was matched exclusively for her. Near the end of training, a vet visit occurs where a copy of your service dog’s history is provided.

It was refreshing for Peggy to know that, “It doesn’t end when you take your service dog home. SGD is available for any concerns. They go above and beyond to help. They also conduct a 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year visit at which time there is a retest of basic commands at your residence. And yes, you get a service dog ID.”

Peggy is exceedingly thankful to SGD for the training and complimentary service they provide veterans who need a service dog. The bond she has formed with Danny is priceless and one in whose information she would like to share with others.

For additional information, check out https://www.guidedogs.org

Peggy Rogers is a 1984-1988 Marine Corps Veteran who later earned a Bachelor’s in Geography from California State, Fullerton; a Multiple Subject/Single Subject in Social Sciences, and a Master’s in Education at California State, Dominguez Hills. For 18 years, Peggy taught students from grade school through high school in topics such as Social Science, Bilingual, Gifted/Talented, US, AP, and World History, and Sociology. Today, she enjoys her retired life with Danny, her helpmate and best friend.